State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 02-02
If a judicial officer’s spouse is a candidate for election to a non-judicial partisan position, may the judge’s name and likeness appear in a family picture in a campaign brochure of the spouse if the literature does not identify the judicial officer by profession or position in any way, for example, if the judicial officer is identified only as spouse and parent of the candidate’s children?
May a judicial officer attend a non-fundraising campaign event for the judicial officer’s spouse?
May a judicial officer attend a community event which is not a campaign event for the judicial officer’s spouse but where the spouse is appearing and is introduced or will speak as a candidate?
CJC Canon 1 provides that judges should observe high standards of judicial conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary will be observed. Canon 2(A) provides in part that judges should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Canon 2(B) provides in part that judges should not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others. Canon 7(A) provides generally that judges may not participate in any political conduct except on their own behalf during the course of a judicial campaign.
There is nothing in the Code of Judicial Conduct which prohibits the spouse of a judicial officer from using a family photograph, which includes the judge, in campaign literature. The photograph should not identify the judge as a judge but rather as the candidate’s spouse. The spouse/candidate should also not refer to the judge/spouse as a judge under any circumstances during the campaign.
A judicial officer may attend a non-fundraising campaign event for the judicial officer spouse provided the event is not one which is put on by a political organization or attended only by members of a particular political organization. Even though the judicial officer may attend the non-fundraising event, the judicial officer may not speak on behalf of the spouse’s candidacy and if the judicial officer is introduced the judge’s position may not be mentioned as that would give the appearance of using the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judicial officer’s spouse.
A judicial officer may attend a community event, which is not a campaign event for the judicial officer but where the spouse/candidate is appearing and will either be introduced or speak on behalf of his or her candidacy. Again, even though the judicial officer/spouse may attend such a community event the judicial officer’s position may not be mentioned and the judge/spouse may not speak of the candidate’s behalf.
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