State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 93-01
May a judicial officer accept proceeds from a blind trust established to cover extraordinary medical costs which will be incurred if the judicial officer undergoes treatment for a life threatening illness? Cost of treatment may not be covered by the judicial officer's health care provider.
CJC Canon 5(C)(4) provides for limited circumstances under which judges and members of their families may accept gifts. CJC Canon 5(C)(4)(c) provides that judges and members of their families may accept gifts if the donor is not a party or other person whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge. If the value of the gift exceeds $100, the judge should report it in the same manner as compensation is reported in Canon 6(C).
The conflict of interest or appearance of impropriety that CJC Canon 5(C)(4) seeks to prevent will not arise under the described circumstances. The judicial officer will not personally solicit any donations for the blind trust nor will the identity of those who make donations be revealed to the judicial officer. These special circumstances are not those contemplated by the restrictions on the acceptance of gifts set out in the Code of Judicial Conduct. Therefore, a judicial officer may receive the proceeds of a blind trust to pay for an emergency
surgical procedure for a life threatening illness.
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