State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 86-06
Is it proper for a district court judge to rent a commercial building to an alcohol treatment agency which is located in the same jurisdiction as the judge sits? If the answer is yes, is there any conflict if the district court judge were to preside over a hearing where the state would use one of the employees of the alcohol treatment agency as a witness?
Our answer to this question is premised on the following representations provided to the Committee: 1) everyone convicted of DWI is given an appointment with the county TASC, ordered to complete an alcohol evaluation with that agency, and to complete an alcohol treatment program as ordered by their probation officer based upon the TASC evaluation; 2) at a minimum, each person is required to complete a certified alcohol information school; 3) the court is not involved in establishing the treatment program, in the evaluating process, or in determining where the defendant is treated; and 4) there are two certified private alcohol treatment agencies, one of which rents office space from a district court judge.
It is not proper for a district court judge to rent a commercial building to an alcohol treatment agency which is located in the same jurisdiction as the judge sits as it would be disruptive to the performance of judicial duties in view of the likelihood of the volume of cases heard which involve alcohol and because the district court judge ultimately controls the flow of those cases. [CJC Canon 3].
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