State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 04-03
May a part-time judicial officer serve on a board or chair an organization which provides a broad array of services?
As a part-time judicial officer, this person will occasionally be called upon to hear ex parte petitions for domestic violence protection orders (among other ex parte matters), take jury verdicts and conduct first appearance hearings in felony criminal matters, some of which may involve crimes of domestic violence or sexual assault.
The judicial officer is vice president/president elect of the board of an organization which offers a broad array of services to the community, which benefit children and families in the county. Those programs include: Head Start preschool, ECEAP/private pay preschool, infant and toddler care, child care, kindercare, school-aged care, Youth and Teen Adventure Programs, middle school Teen Nights, Readiness to Learn Program (conducted in the public schools), and a Family Support Program (which provides home visiting, crisis child care, family advocacy, parent-child playgroups and parent education). It also includes a program which is a shelter and advocacy agency for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
The judicial officer is slated to become the president of the board. Duties of the board president include: establishing an agenda for and running monthly board meetings, voting on motions only in the event of a tie, overseeing the progress of various board committees (e.g., nominations, fundraising, communications, review, personnel), presiding at occasional functions (e.g., anniversary celebrations, annual staff Christmas dinner, one staff meeting per year), convening meeting of the board’s executive committee when needed, and (in conjunction with the board’s personnel committee) conducting annual performance evaluations for the agency’s executive director.
CJC Canon 5(B) provides in part that judges may participate in charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon impartiality or interfere with the performance of their judicial duties. The Application of the Code of Judicial Conduct (A)(1) sets out those provisions of the CJC with which part-time judicial officers must comply and for which compliance is excepted. CJC Canon 5(B) is a provision with which a part-time judicial officer is expected to comply.
Among other duties, the part-time judicial officer will on occasion hear ex parte petitions for domestic violence protection orders and conduct first appearance hearings in felony criminal matters, some of which will involve crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault. Because one of the services the organization provides is a program which is a shelter and advocacy agency for victims of domestic and sexual assault, the judicial officer may not serve on the board. Serving on the board would reflect adversely upon the judicial officer’s impartiality when they hear any matters involving allegations of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Also see Opinions 01-4 and 02-11.
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