State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 08-09
The following factual representations were made to the Committee:
It is reportedly public knowledge that a “bear” sticker on a car window indicates a law enforcement officer or family member is operating that vehicle. The presence of the sticker “encourages” other law enforcement officers to overlook any violations and not stop the vehicle or issue a citation.
If a judicial officer or his/her family member receive a traffic or ordinance citation, that officer may go directly to the Clerk’s office and arrange for a reduction in the fine or a dismissal of the ticket based solely upon that judicial officer’s request.
CJC Canon 2(A) provides in pertinent part that a judicial officer should respect and comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary. Canon 2(B) provides in pertinent part that a judicial officer should not allow family, social or other relationships to influence their judicial conduct or judgment and that a judicial officer should not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interest of the judge or others and they should not convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence them.
If the factual representations made to the committee are correct, the Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 2(A) and (B) prohibits a judicial officer from displaying a “bear” sticker on his or her vehicle.
If a judicial officer receives a traffic or ordinance citation, the judicial officer should follow the procedure applicable to the members of the general public.
If a judicial officer’s family member receives a traffic or ordinance citation, the judicial officer’s family member should follow the procedures applicable to the members of the general public. The judicial officer should not be involved in the matter except to the intent permitted by CJC Canon 5(F).
A judicial officer’s disciplinary responsibilities when a judicial officer has actual knowledge that another judicial officer has violated the Code of Judicial Conduct are covered by CJC Canon 3(C)(1).
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