State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 02-17
Is it permissible for a former judge or justice to refer to themselves as “The Honorable” or “Hon.” in advertisements offering mediation and arbitration services so long as it is followed by an indication that the judge or justice is retired?
Canon 2(B) provides in part that judges should not lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interest of the judge or others. Use of a title such as “judge” or “justice” by former judicial officers in relation to advertisements offering mediation and arbitration does not violate this provision of the Code of Judicial Conduct because the information is offered to indicate the former judicial officer’s experience as a factfinder. It is not misleading or a misrepresentation of the former judicial officer’s qualifications to serve in this capacity when the use of the title is accompanied by the words “retired”, “ret.” or “former" which clearly indicates that the former or retired judicial officer no longer serves as a sitting judicial officer. Former judicial officers may not use “Honorable” or “Hon.” in advertising offering these services as that title attaches to the judicial office and not to an individual who formerly served as a judicial officer.
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