State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 10-02
May judicial officers, on their own time and without using any public resources, speak in favor of and urge others to support a ballot measure adopting a proposed county ordinance that provides in part for additional sales and use taxes that will fund the replacement of an obsolete juvenile court facility and fund ongoing court operations? May a judicial officer solicit another judicial officer for a campaign contribution in support of this ballot measure?
There will be a ballot measure adopting a proposed county ordinance on the fall ballot, which would impose a tax that would be used, in part, for replacement of an obsolete juvenile court facility and funding ongoing court operations. The juvenile court facility is a criminal justice facility and will provide family law services.
The ballot measure would permit the county to impose an additional sales and use tax that would be split between the county and the cities with at least one-third of the proceeds being used for criminal justice and fire protection services. The county proceeds are to be used for criminal justice purposes, such as police protection, the replacement of capital facilities for juvenile justice, and the funding of ongoing court operations.
CJC Canon 4(A) provides in part that judicial officers may speak, write, teach and participate in other activities concerning the administration of justice. CJC Canon 7(A)(5) provides in part that judicial officers should not engage in any other political activity except on behalf of measures to improve the administration of justice. These provisions permit judicial officers, on their own time and without using any public resources, to speak in favor of and urge others to support a ballot measure adopting a proposed county ordinance that will fund the replacement of an obsolete juvenile court facility and fund ongoing court operations. Judicial officers’ comments should be confined to the impact the ballot measure will have on the funding of the court and not address any other governmental services.
Also see Opinions 91-20, 92-05 and 04-04.
Judicial officers should not engage in any fundraising activities on behalf of the ballot measure. CJC Canon 7(A)(1)(c) provides that judicial officers shall not solicit funds for a political organization, such as an organization that presumably would expend funds in support of the ballot measure.
Also see Opinion 92-06.
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