State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 88-10
Is it proper for a full-time district court judge to serve as an uncompensated member on the allocation panel for the local United Way or a combined charities fund collector?
Our answer is premised on the following representations provided to the committee: 1) some United Way agencies
(e.g. rape relief and women's shelter) work with the court on a regular basis; and 2) a member of the allocation panel reviews agency budgets and recommends agency allocations to the agency relations committee and ultimately to the United Way Board of Directors or a combined charities board of directors.
Based on these representations it is proper under CJC Canon 5(B) for a judge to serve as a member of the allocation committee for United Way or a combined charities fund collector subject to the limitation that 1) the judge should not serve if it is likely that the organization or any of the charities funded by 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 any of the charities funded by 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 any organization's fund raising events; and 3) the judge should not give any investment advice to the organization or any charity funded by the organization.
Even though it is proper for the judge to serve as a member on the allocation panel for the local United Way or a combined charities fund collector, the nature of the organization may change. Therefore, the judge must regularly reexamine the organization to determine the propriety of continuing to be associated with it.