State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 07-02
May judicial officers attend a fund-raising event by a family law CASA program? Does it matter if CASA has a pending case before the judicial officer? Does it matter if the judges are seated together and not with any of the CASA program staff or volunteers? Does it matter if the judicial officers leave prior to the fund-raising request?
CJC Canon 4 encourages judicial officers to participate in law related activities that do not cast doubt on their capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before them. Canon 4(C) permits a judicial officer to attend fund-raising activities of law related organizations. The comment to that canon provides that judges must not be speakers or guests of honor at an organization’s fund-raising event, but attendance is permissible if otherwise consistent with the Code. Judicial officers may pay to attend an organization’s fund-raising events.
Judicial officers may attend a fund-raising event by a family law CASA program. The fact that a judicial officer has a CASA matter pending before him or her will not, independent of other circumstances, prevent the judicial officer from attending the fund-raising event. The Code of Judicial Conduct does not address with whom judicial officers may sit. The judicial officer should, to the extent it is possible to do so, endeavor to be seated at a table, which does not cast the impartiality of the judicial officer in doubt. There is no requirement that the judicial officer leave prior to a fund-raising request. The judicial officer may not personally participate in any fund-raising efforts. That includes, in addition to not being a speaker or a guest of honor at the event, acting as a table host or similar fund-raising position unless the judicial officer ensures the judicial officer’s name will not be designated in any event literature as a table captain or be recognized at the event as such, the judicial officer’s name is not displayed on the table and the judicial officer performs none of the traditional functions of a table captain such as passing around a donation envelope or pledge card.
See Opinions 94-6 and 06-1.
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