State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 92-07
May a judicial officer sign written findings of facts and conclusions of law in a case in which the oral decision was entered before one of the parties filed as a candidate against the judicial officer?
The answer is based on the following representations made to the Committee: 1) the judicial officer presided over a dissolution case which involved multiple issues; 2) the same day the judicial officer ruled on the case one of the parties, who is an attorney, filed as a candidate for the judicial officer's position; and 3) all post trial matters will be heard by another judge, including motions for attorneys' fees.
Because the judge had already made and announced the oral decision on the record, before the attorney/litigant filed as a candidate against the judge, the judge may enter the written findings of facts and conclusions of law, as required by law, without undermining the public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
The Code of Judicial Conduct does not require that a judicial officer be disqualified from reducing to writing findings of facts and conclusions of law consistent with the oral decision where the litigant/attorney filed as a candidate against the judicial officer after the judicial officer made the oral decision in the case. The written findings of facts and conclusions of law are required in all actions where there is a factual determination made by a judicial officer.
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