State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 02-09
May/should/must a judicial officer report to the appropriate authorities when parties in a trial before the judicial officer present undisputed evidence that one or both of the parties in the trial have committed illegal or fraudulent acts against the federal/state/local government units by willfully refusing or failing to pay valid and acknowledged financial obligations to the government?
The judicial officer has heard undisputed testimony in civil trials which would establish illegal or fraudulent acts against the government.
A judicial officer is not required to report misconduct to the appropriate authorities when parties in a civil trial present undisputed evidence that a party has committed illegal or fraudulent acts against the government by willfully refusing or failing to pay valid and acknowledged financial obligations to the government. Reports of alleged civil or criminal violations are left to the judicial officer’s discretion. The Code of Judicial Conduct does not create an obligation to report the presumed violation but there is no ethical prohibition against reporting the presumed violation.
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