State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 91-26
Should a judicial officer prevent an attorney from practicing in the judicial officer's court when the attorney is a partner or associate attorney in a law office with an attorney who is also a part-time judge in that court?
Our answer is premised on the following representation made to the Committee: 1) There are two positions in the county district court; one full-time position and one part-time position which amounts to approximately one-tenth time. RCW 3.34.120 provides that the partner and associates of a judge who is a lawyer shall not practice law before the judge.
The Code of Judicial Conduct does not regulate the conduct of the partners or associates of a part-time judicial officer. The Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 2(A) does provide that judicial officers are to comply with the law. RCW 3.34,120 prohibits the partners and associates of a judge who is a lawyer from practicing before that judge. This prohibition is not extended to the partners or associates appearing before another judicial officer in the same court, therefore, it is not necessary for a judicial officer to prohibit the partners and associates from practicing before the full-time judicial officer or a third party pro tem judge.
As this Committee does not have the authority to interpret the Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to actions contemplated by lawyers it may be appropriate for the affected lawyers to direct their inquiries to the Washington State Bar Association.
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