State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 05-07
May a judicial officer sponsor a hole in a local bar association’s annual golf tournament when the monies will benefit the bar association and its activities?
May a judicial officer sponsor a hole for the local police guild’s golf tournament when the proceeds will go to charity?
May a judicial officer make any charitable contributions to the local police guild when the contributions benefit such organizations as food banks, Special Olympics and Toys for Tots?
CJC Canon 2(A) provides in part that judges should act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Canon 4(C) provides in part that judges may assist an organization which is involved in the law, the legal system and the administration of justice in raising funds and may participate in their management and investment, but they should not personally participate in public fundraising. Canon 5(B) provides in part that judges may participate in charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon their impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties.
A judicial officer may sponsor a hole in a local bar association’s annual golf tournament because that sponsorship does not constitute personally participating in public fund raising activities in a law related organization. Even though it is permissible for the judge to sponsor a golf hole in the bar association’s annual fund raising golf tournament, the bar association should not advertise the judge’s sponsorship of the golf hole in any promotional materials as that could lend the prestige of the judicial office for the benefit of the bar association’s fund raising activities and also give the impression the judge is personally participating in the bar association’s fundraising activities.
A judicial officer may not sponsor a hole in a fundraising golf tournament sponsored by the local police guild. Because the police guild is made up solely of law enforcement officers, the involvement of a judicial officer in sponsoring a hole at its golf tournament calls the judicial officer’s impartiality into question and could interfere with the performance of judicial duties and therefore is prohibited by Canons 2(A) and 5(B).
Also see Amended Opinion 91-28, Opinion 92-8 and 95-6.
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