State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 08-05
May a judicial officer teach in a sports club as an instructor during non-court hours and receive compensation?
May a judicial officer teach in a law school setting during a portion of court hours, if s/he makes up the time during lunch hour, etc. and receives compensation for the class?
Instructors at the sports club all receive the same compensation; a free membership and $25 per class.
The law school class is taught from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. several times a week. Court hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
CJC Canon 2(A) provides in part that judges should comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. CJC Canon 3 provides in part that judicial duties take precedence over all other activities and these duties include all duties prescribed by law. Canon 4 provides that judges may engage in quasi-judicial activities, such as teaching at a law school, provided it does not cast doubt upon their impartiality or interfere with the proper performance of their judicial duties. Canon 5 permits judges to engage in extrajudicial activities provided those activities do not detract from the dignity of office or interfere with the performance of their judicial duties. Finally, WA const. art. IV, § 15 provides that judges of the Supreme Court and the superior court are ineligible for public employment other than judicial office during the term for which they have been elected.
Subject to CJC Canon 2(A), Canon 5(A) and Canon 6 permit a judge to teach a class at a sports club during non-court hours provided the judicial officer is compensated in a reasonable amount commensurate with the amount paid to other instructors and if it does not detract from the dignity of their judicial office or interfere with the performance of their judicial duties.
Because of WA const. art. IV, sec. § 15, a Supreme Court justice and a superior court judge are only permitted to receive compensation for teaching a law school class at non-public law school. RCW 3.74.020 extends this prohibition to full-time district court judges. The judicial officer however, may only assume the teaching position at a non-public law school if it does not interfere with the performance of judicial duties.
Teaching a class that begins during court hours several times a week has the potential to interfere with the performance of judicial duties and also creates the appearance that the judicial officer is permitting outside activities to take precedence over judicial duties. Before a judicial officer agrees to undertake such a schedule, the judicial officer should work with the law school to try to schedule the law school class either before or after court hours. If that cannot be accomplished, the judicial officer must take necessary precautions to ensure that teaching the class does not interfere with the performance of judicial duties or increase the workload of other judicial officers and/or court personnel. Those precautions may include such things as assignment to a particular calendar, courthouse location or other accommodations that might be worked out with the presiding judge. If the judicial officer is not satisfied that teaching the class will not interfere with the performance of judicial duties, the judicial officer should not teach the class.
Also see Opinions 91-21 and 95-13.
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