State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 91-25
May a full time district court judge accept an additional position as a municipal court judge? Does it make any difference whether: (1) the compensation is salaried or per diem? (2) all the trials, hearings, and all of the court administration (correspondence, scheduling, etc.) for the municipal court are done after regular district court hours? (3) some administrative duties of the municipal court are carried out during regular daytime court hours but do not interfere with district court judicial functions or responsibilities? (4) occasional municipal court trials are held during normal daytime district court hours but are presided over by pro tem judges? (5) to accommodate litigants or attorneys an occasional municipal court trial is held during daytime court hours by the district/municipal court judge? (6) whether the municipal court is located inside or outside the district court's boundaries?
The Code of Judicial Conduct does not specifically prohibit a full time district court judge from serving as a municipal court judge. The Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 2(A) does, however, provide that judges are to comply with the law. Because RCW 3.74.020 provides in part that full time district court judges are ineligible for public employment during the term for which they have been elected, a full time district court judge may not serve as a municipal court judge except as authorized by RCW 3.50.040 and 3.46.060.
Judges of various levels of court, superior district and municipal, frequently sit as pro tem judges or commissioners at other court levels. This is common as a matter of comity between courts and furthers the administration of justice. Such exchanges of favors do not constitute another employment for the purpose of this opinion.
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