State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 89-08
May a superior court judge try a civil case in which the defendant is a law firm, when the senior partner in that law firm is counsel for the county superior court judges in a dispute with the county over the creation of new judgeships? If the answer is yes, should any disclosures be made to the lawyers and parties on the record?
If the dispute for which the attorney has been retained resolves itself and litigation is not required, does that change the question of whether a judge of this county should hear a case in which the attorney's firm is a party?
It is proper for a superior court judge to try a civil suit in which the defendant is a law firm, when the senior partner in that firm is counsel for the county superior court judges provided, the judge discloses that relationship to the lawyers and parties involved under CJC Canon 3(C), and the judge should also offer to withdraw from the case.
The fact that the dispute has been resolved without litigation does not affect the judge's duty to disclose the relationship under CJC Canon 3(C) or the judge's offer to withdraw from the case.
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