State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 12-01
May a judicial officer accept donated services that would be used by indigent defendants?
The court has a specialty therapeutic court for veterans. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals hosts a Veteran’s Treatment Court Clearinghouse that is the country’s leading resource of news, data, research and programs related to Veteran’s Treatment Courts. Through this clearinghouse, a company has established a grant, consisting of donated equipment and a block of no-cost monitoring days for qualifying Veterans’ Treatment Courts.
The grant offers 1200 days of continuous alcohol monitoring for use specific to veterans who are referred from the court. The intent is to have these days available for indigent veterans who have a documented inability to pay.
The court, through its purchasing department, currently holds a contract for home monitoring. There is a provision in the contract that allows for indigent defendants to be provided services either at a reduced charge or free of charge if they meet prescribed requirements. All other services are solely defendant-funded, with no offsetting funding from either the city or the court.
Under the representations made above, the Code of Judicial Conduct does not prohibit a judicial officer from allowing an indigent defendant to make use of free or reduced charge services for alcohol monitoring provided those services would be available to any eligible defendant, who participates in veterans’ treatment court.
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