State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 06-11
May a full-time judicial officer, who serves as a member of the board of directors for a theological seminary operated by the church with which the judicial officer is associated, participate in presentations to other church members and church organizations for the purpose of cultivating and enhancing gifts and endowments for the operation of the seminary?
The seminary is located outside the State of Washington, and serves 12 Western states. Any solicitation of donors by the judicial officer would occur within the territory (“synod”) represented by the officer on the seminary board, which synod consists of a portion of this state and an adjoining state. Presentations will not identify the judicial officer as a judge, but the judicial officer’s position is likely well known to many who would be in attendance.
CJC Canon 5(B)(2) provides in pertinent part that judges should not use the prestige of their office to solicit contributions for any religious organization. Because the judicial officer will be making presentations to individuals, many of whom know the judicial officer’s status, in which the judicial officer will be encouraging others to give funds for the operation of the seminary, the judicial officer should not participate in those presentations as it lends the prestige of the office for fundraising purposes.
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