State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 89-16
May a judge hear a matter involving a former client if the judge has no knowledge about the former client which would render the judge partial to one side or the other, where the judge makes a disclosure on the record of the former relationship and neither party objects?
The Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 3(C)(1) allows a judge to hear matters involving former clients provided the judge's impartiality could not be reasonably questioned. The judge, however, should disclose the former relationship on the record to lawyers and parties involved in a matter regarding the judge's former client and, subject to Canon 3(D), the judge should withdraw if his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned.