State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 94-05
Is a municipal court commissioner disqualified from hearing cases presented by the city attorney's office, criminal division, if the judicial officer is married to a civil division assistant city attorney?
The following facts were supplied to the committee: The municipal court commissioner hears criminal and traffic cases which are presented by the criminal division attorneys. The city attorney's office civil division is located in a different building, four blocks from the criminal division. The civil division attorneys do not have access or input into the criminal files. There is no contact between criminal division attorneys and civil division attorneys.
The municipal court commissioner may hear cases presented by the criminal division of the city attorney's office even though the judicial officer's spouse is employed as a civil division assistant city attorney since the offices are kept separate under the facts as presented. That employment alone does not call the judicial officer's impartiality into question.
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