State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 88-04
May a part-time municipal court judge represent a driver involved in an automobile accident when the part-time judge presided over the mitigation hearing for the driver cited in the accident?
The answer to this question is premised on the following representations provided to the committee: 1) The cited driver requested a mitigation hearing; 2) at the hearing the judge reduced the penalty from $95 to $50, which has been paid in its entirety; and 3) the judge presides over approximately sixty citation on the infraction calendar day.
Based on these representations it is proper under the Code of Judicial Conduct for the part-time judge to act as a lawyer for a driver involved in an automobile accident even though the part-time judge presided over the mitigation hearing. As there is no adjudication of fault at a mitigation hearing it is not a proceeding related to the subsequent civil action.
However, the part-time judge, while acting as a lawyer, should closely monitor such cases and be sensitive to representing a party when the adverse party has appeared before the part-time judge for a mitigation hearing.
See also RPC 1.12(a).
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