State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 84-02
Is it proper for a judge to co-chair an organization whose purpose is to foster and encourage the election of women to public office which is a non-partisan, non-profit organization made up of members of both sexes who have the single common characteristic of being public officials?
Our answer to this question is premised on the following representations provided to the Committee: the organization 1) does not participate in elections; 2) does not endorse candidates for election; and 3) does not otherwise involve itself in activity prohibited by CJC Canon 7.
Based on these representations it is proper under CJC Canon 5B for a judge to serve as an officer in an educational or civic organization subject to the limitations that 1) the judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings which would ordinarily come before the judge or regularly will be engaged in adversary proceedings in any court; 2) the judge should not solicit funds for the organization, or use or permit use of the judicial office for that purpose, nor should the judge be a speaker or guest of honor at an organization’s fund raising events; and 3) a judge should not give investment advice to the organization. Even though it is proper for the judge to serve as co-chair of this organization, the nature of the organization may change. Therefore, the judge must regularly reexamine such organization to ascertain the propriety of continuing to be associated with it.
Further, a judge should disclose a position with the organization to any lawyers or parties involved in an action before the judge in which the judge’s impartiality or appearance of thereof may be reasonably questioned as a result of association with the organization under CJC Canon 3C, and the judge should also offer to withdraw from the case.
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