State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 92-10
Would a judicial officer's participation in a seminar sponsored by the State Toxicologist to provide prosecutors with information regarding breath and alcohol testing in itself cast doubt upon the judicial officer's impartiality?
Does the giving of a "judicial perspective" on the use of certain types of evidence cast doubt upon the judicial officer's impartiality when the judicial officer will be called upon in the future to rule upon the admissibility and weight to be given such evidence?
A judicial officer may participate in such a seminar regardless of the audience. The fact that the course is designed for a specific audience does not alone create the appearance of impropriety or partiality.
However, CJC Canon 4 also limits such activity if in doing so judges cast doubt on their capacity to decide impartiality any issue that may come before them. The content of any speech or presentation and the response to questions at such seminars must be carefully structured to avoid giving the impression that the judge will do other than apply the law, or that the judge has a bias or predisposition toward any questions that the judge might be called upon to decide. If the judge is unable to restrict any such presentations within those limits, the judge should not participate.
See also Opinion 91-11.
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