State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 02-01
May a judicial officer appear in a county bar foundation informational video as one of several persons speaking on behalf of the foundation’s programs?
The county bar foundation raises and distributes funds for legal services for the poor and scholarships for minority law students attending local law schools. Before becoming a judge, the judge served as president of the county bar foundation, was a past member of the board of trustees and was one of the first recipients of a scholarship from its scholarship program for minority law students.
The foundation has asked the judicial officer to appear in an informational video as one of several persons speaking on behalf of its program. Those who appear on camera will be identified by name and title. They will include present and former members of the board of trustees as well as others involved in the work of the foundation. The judge’s segment would be about 60 seconds and would identify the judge by name and title. The judge would not appear in robes or in court, but would be taped in chambers with law books in the background. The substance of the judge’s remarks would relate that the judge would not be in the legal profession or would not have the present judicial position but for the opportunity provided by the foundation to diversify the legal profession.
CJC Canon 4(A) provides in part that judicial officers may speak and participate in other activities concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice. CJC Canon 4(C) provides in part that judges may assist law related organizations in raising funds and participate in their management and investment, but they should not personally solicit contributions from the public.
A judicial officer may appear in the county bar foundation video talking about the fact that the judicial officer received one of the county bar foundation’s minority law student scholarships which made it possible for the judicial officer to enter the legal profession and hold the present judicial position. Even if, on occasion, the video is used for fundraising purposes it would not preclude the judicial officer’s participation because the judicial officer will not be asking for contributions or in any other way personally soliciting funds for the county bar foundation.
See also Opinion 96-6.
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