State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 94-04
Assuming that the county commissioners do not act to make this part-time position a full-time one, may the judicial officer continue to practice law after the population of the county has been certified as being in excess of 40,000?
The following facts were supplied to the committee: A judicial officer is a part-time judge in a county in which the population of the county has been certified as being in excess of 40,000. The county prosecuting attorney has given a legal opinion to the county commissioners indicating that it is mandatory that the judicial position is full-time when the population is certified. The county commissioners are resisting making this a full-time position and it does not appear that it will be made a full-time position in the near future.
The Preamble to the Code of Judicial Conduct defines part-time judges as judges who serve on a continuing or periodic basis. They are permitted to devote time to some other profession or occupation and their compensation for that reason is less than that of a full-time judge. Part-time judges are not required to comply with the prohibition against the practice of law (Canon 5(F)).
Therefore, if a judicial officer receives less compensation than a full-time judicial officer, the judicial officer may continue to practice law.
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