State of Washington
Ethics Advisory Committee
Is it appropriate under the Code of Judicial Conduct for a deputy prosecuting attorney to serve as a pro tem judge in the district court, where their office appears on a daily basis, prosecuting cases? Is it appropriate under the Code of Judicial Conduct if the pro tem judge hears only small claims calendars?
- The Code of Judicial Conduct does not prohibit a judge from appointing a deputy prosecuting attorney as a pro tem judge. The pro tem judge should disclose to the parties the attorney's employment if a reasonable person would conclude it is relevant to the issue of disqualification.
- The deputy prosecuting attorney should not be appointed to hear any cases in which an attorney from that prosecutor's office is or may be involved.
- As was pointed out in Opinion 91-23 answer #3, even though a pro tem judge is not prohibited from practicing in the court in which the person has or is serving as a pro tem judge, the court and the pro tem judge must avoid conduct which would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the pro tem judge is receiving preferential treatment from the court and/or court staff.
- Other than the disclosure required in paragraph 1, there are no limitations on a deputy prosecuting attorney/pro tem judge hearing small claims calendars.
The Supreme Court adopted a new Code of Judicial Conduct effective January 1, 2011. In addition to reviewing the ethics advisory opinions, the following should be noted:
CJC Application III Judge Pro Tempore
CJC Terminology “pro tempore judge”