State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 02-19
May a person who held the position of municipal court judge before the position was eliminated perform marriages under RCW 26.04.050?
RCW 26.04.050 provides in part that retired judges from courts of limited jurisdiction are authorized to solemnize marriages. CJC Canon 2(A) provides in part that judges should comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.
A person who held the position of a municipal court judge before the position was eliminated may perform marriages under RCW 26.04.050. In Zachman v. Whirlpool Financial Corp. 123 Wn.2d 667, 869 P.2d 1078 (1994) the Supreme Court held the term “retired” includes superior court judges who have been defeated at election for the purpose of pro tempore judge appointments under Const. art. 4, § 7. Construing “retired” as used at RCW 26.04.050 in the same manner would permit a judicial officer who left office either through election defeat or because his or her court was eliminated to perform marriages. “Retired” does not include judicial officers who are removed from office for wrongdoing by the Supreme Court.
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