State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 87-10
Is it permissible under CJC Canon 2(B) for a judge to write a letter of recommendation for employment for an attorney who has, on numerous occasions, appeared before the judge?
If it is permissible, is it necessary or appropriate to add the disclaimer stating that the judge is not attempting to lend the prestige of the office to advance the private interests of others?
Is it permissible for a judge to allow an attorney to list the judge as a reference in employment applications and resumes?
It is permissible for a judge to write a letter of evaluation for an attorney who has, on numerous occasion, appeared before the judge. This should be an evaluation of the judge’s observations of the professional performance of the attorney. The letter should also clearly state that it is based on the personal observations of the judge and the views expressed therein are not necessarily those of other members of the court.
Even though the judge may write a letter of recommendation for an attorney, it should include a disclaimer stating that the judge is not attempting to lend the prestige of the office to advance the private interests of others.
In any situation involving a request to list the judge as a reference in employment applications and/or resumes for an attorney, the judge should weigh the circumstances to ascertain that he or she is personally familiar with the attorney’s professional qualifications and abilities, and the comments should be confined to those personal observations.
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