State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 02-11
May a judicial officer serve on the board of a non-profit organization which offers domestic violence counseling to defendants and victims of domestic violence when the judicial officer regularly hears domestic violence cases?
Some of the defendants who are ordered to complete one year batterer’s treatment classes may choose to complete their treatment through the non-profit organization and may therefore appear before the judicial officer at review hearings during or after treatment.
CJC Canon 5(B) provides in part that judges may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon their impartiality or interfere with the performance of their judicial duties. It also provides that judges may serve on boards of these types of organizations unless the organization is likely to be engaged in proceedings which would come before the judge.
The court on which the judicial officer sits regularly hears domestic violence cases. Some of the defendants who are ordered to complete a batterer’s treatment class may choose to complete treatment through the program put on by the non-profit organization. Defendants who have participated in the organization’s program will appear at review hearings before the judicial officer. Because the judicial officer’s service on the organization’s board would cause the impartiality of the judicial officer to be questioned in domestic violence cases over which the judicial officer presides, the judicial officer should not serve on the organization’s board.
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