State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 92-16
May a candidate for judicial office answer a questionnaire developed by families and friends of violent crime victims which asks whether the judicial candidate agrees or disagrees with the following statements: 1) criminal sentencing alternatives should be implemented only if they protect victim rights and do not further diminish public safety; 2) victims of crime should have their voice heard and their input considered in the criminal justice process; 3) our state should reinstate an habitual offender law for repeat violent offenders; 4) victims whose constitutional or statutory rights are violated by the criminal justice system should have legal recourse; 5) the family members of a homicide victim should be entitled under law to provide the court with a victim impact statement in a capital murder case; 6) victim impact statements are an important tool for judges to utilize in the sentencing phase of a criminal trial; and 7) restitution, when reasonably ascertainable, should be ordered for every offender who commits a crime; and 8) judges should be given more discretionary powers in determining appropriate criminal sentences.
CJC Canon 2(A) provides that judges conduct themselves at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. CJC Canon 7(B)(1)(a) provides that judges and judicial candidates should maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office. CJC Canon 7(B)(1)(c) provides that judges and judicial candidates should not make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office, announce their views on disputed legal or political issues, or misrepresent their identity or qualifications.
Because these statements call for the responding judicial candidate to comment on issues that are likely to come before the judge and also because the responses may reasonably give the impression that a judge is committed to acting in a certain way with respect to questions that may come before the judge, it is not appropriate for the judicial candidate to respond. The responses would impair the duty to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary which is required by CJC Canon 2(A).
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