State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 05-05
May a trial court judge, who is equal partners with another trial court judge on a different level of court but in the same county, institute an eviction proceeding in the county in which the judges sit acting in a pro se capacity?
A judge from the district court and a judge from the superior court own a piece of real property as equal partners. There is a full-time property manager of the rental property.
CJC Canon 2(A) provides in part that judges should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
Canon 5(G) in part provides that judges may act pro se; however, WA const. art. IV, § 19 prohibits a superior court judge from the practice of law in any court in this state during the term of judicial office.
Canon 5(G) permits a judge from a court of limited jurisdiction to appear in court pro se in the county in which the judge sits. However, the facts as presented in this case indicate that the judge would be appearing on behalf of the partnership and not acting pro se. Because the judge would be representing the partnership, the court of limited jurisdiction judge would be practicing law which is prohibited by Canon 5(G). In addition to the prohibition at Canon 5(G), a superior court judge is prohibited from appearing as counsel in any court in this state during the term of judicial office by art. IV, § 19 of the state constitution.
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