State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 06-06
A judicial officer received an invitation from the advisory committee of the county leadership association to its annual breakfast. The names of the members of the advisory committee appear on the letterhead and include professionals, business people, sports figures and public officials. The members of the committee are listed by name followed by place of employment or profession. The judicial officers are likewise listed by name followed by the county Superior Court.
The invitation invites participants to the breakfast to be followed by a forum where two community leaders will “speak about their experiences of walking together.” The purpose and vision of the breakfast is to bring together a cross-section of current and emerging leaders to pray for the community and to acknowledge “God’s guidance in both personal and civic life and to strengthen and reconcile relationships in the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth.”
The letter announces the keynote speaker, who has been associated with the Congressional leadership/breakfast groups.
The letter says the judge was invited because the advisory committee recognizes that as a public official the person has dedicated their life to caring for and serving the community. Because of the group’s gratitude for community commitment, the judge and a guest are invited at no cost.
The letterhead has a listing of all of the members of the advisory committee, including two county Superior Court judges. They are listed with other business people, public officials and sports figures.
CJC Canon 5(B) permits a judicial officer to participate in civic or charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon their impartiality or interfere with the performance of their judicial duties. It also provides in relevant part that they may serve as officers, directors, trustees, or nonlegal advisors of a religious organization that is not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members, subject to these limitations: 1) judges should not serve if it is likely the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would come before them or be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings; and 2) judges should not use the prestige of their office to solicit contributions for a charitable organization. They may be listed as officers in such an organization but they should not be speakers or the guest of honor at an organization’s fund raising events.
CJC Canon 5(B) permits a judicial officer to serve as an advisory committee member of a public prayer breakfast, that is identified as Christian, when the literature inviting people to participate in the event identifies all of the members of the advisory committee, including judicial officers, by name together with the court on which they serve, subject to the following limitations. The event may not be a fund raising event, the organization may not be regularly involved in litigation and participation in the event may not reflect adversely upon the judicial officer’s impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties.
CJC Canon 5(B) would also permit service on the advisory board of a prayer breakfast and the listing of the judicial officer on the letterhead inviting members of the community to a non-denominational religious event subject to the limitations set forth in the preceding paragraph.
|Courts | Organizations | News | Opinions | Rules | Forms | Directory | Library|
|Back to Top | Privacy and Disclaimer Notices|