State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 02-20
May a judicial officer participate using the judicial title and robe in an initiative to encourage women to get mammograms?
The judicial officer has been asked to participate in a year-long initiative to encourage women to get mammograms. The initiative will feature prominent women from the community. It will also include an ad campaign, community education, information and seminars. It is not a fundraiser. The sponsor of the initiative is a nonprofit health care organization which does compete with other health care providers for business. It is an educational program but it would be clear who is sponsoring the initiative. The health care provider is routinely in court as a litigant.
CJC Canon 2(B) provides in part that judges may not lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interest of the judge or others. Canon 5(B) provides that judges may participate in charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon their impartiality or interfere with the performance of their judicial duties. Section (1) further restricts participation to organizations that will not be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in this state’s courts.
The judicial officer may not participate in the mammogram initiative because using the judicial officer’s title and robe will lend the prestige of the judicial officer to advance the private interests of the nonprofit health care organization which performs these procedures. Additionally, because the health care organization is routinely in court as a litigant it is not appropriate under CJC Canon 5(B)(1) for the judicial officer to be associated with it.
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