State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 90-03
May a part-time District Court judge also serve as a town attorney and prosecute cases in the town municipal court?
May a part-time District Court and Municipal Court judge also serve as the town attorney if someone else is hired to do the prosecuting in Municipal Court?
Is it proper for a part-time District Court judge to also serve as the town attorney if someone else is the Municipal Court judge and a third person is hired to do the prosecution in Municipal Court?
Our answer to these questions is premised on the following representations provided to the Committee: 1) there is no relationship between the District and Municipal courts other than being located in the same town; 2) the District Court does not contract with the Municipal Court although the city does on occasion have a case in District Court if there is no city ordinance covering the infraction; and 3) the mayor would hire the third person to prosecute cases in Municipal Court.
A part-time District Court judge may also serve as the town attorney and prosecute cases in the Municipal Court provided the judge is not the Municipal Court judge. It would not be proper under CJC Canon 2(A), however, for the judge to retain his appointment to the Municipal Court and also serve as the town attorney, even if someone else were to prosecute cases in the Municipal Court, as such would present a conflict of interest and an appearance of partiality.
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