State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 06-03
May a judge permit a county employee to solicit or accept donated sick leave and vacation leave from a county-employed deputy prosecuting attorney?
County employees are permitted to donate sick and vacation leave to other county employees who are in need of leave. Deputy prosecuting attorneys are county employees. In the county in question, public defenders are not county employees and thus have no method of donating sick and vacation leave time.
The receiver of donated leave must proactively ask payroll staff for this information; it is not shared as a matter of course. The payroll staff will respond and identify the donors unless the donors asked to be anonymous.
CJC Canon 2(A) provides in part that judges should act at all times in a manner that promotes the public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Canon 3(B)(2) provides in part that judges should require staff to observe the same standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to them. Canon 5(C)(5)(b) provides that judges may accept social hospitality.
Court employees should be able to receive or accept donated leave from other county employees, including employees of the prosecutor’s office, if the acceptance of the leave will not compromise the public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. To ensure that the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary is not undermined the judicial officer should direct court personnel to institute a procedure that will keep the identity of non-court employee donors anonymous.
Because of CJC Canon 2(A) no court employee may solicit from county-employed deputy prosecuting attorneys donations of sick or vacation leave.
Also see Opinion 93-17.
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