State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 94-10
1) Under RCW 42.52.180 may judicial officers help organize the campaign committee which will be responsible for conducting the bond campaign for a new juvenile court facility and will include drafting materials, signs, raising funds, newspaper ads, and those activities normally associated with a bond campaign?
2) May judicial officers speak at public groups such as PTAs, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce and other such community bodies to promote the levy and/or facility?
3) May judicial officers release newspaper press releases and comments of encouragement to the campaign?
4) May judicial officers directly solicit community support individually or collectively by written material or personal contact or such other normal activities of a campaign?
5) Should judicial officers restrict the juvenile court facility bond levy activities of county court staff?
6) Are any of the exemptions under RCW 42.52.180 available for these activities?
RCW chap. 42.52 is comprehensive ethics legislation which covers appellate court judges, superior court judges, and court personnel employed by the appellate courts and the Office of the Administrator for the Courts.
A county is considering a bond measure to build a juvenile facility and will be placing it on the ballot either this year or next. The juvenile court facility is a direct responsibility of the county superior court. The judges employ the staff and administer all activities of the court which includes detention of individual youth.
1) Under RCW 42.52.180 a judicial officer may help organize the campaign committee which will be responsible for conducting the bond campaign for a new juvenile court facility and which will include drafting materials, signs, raising funds, newspaper ads and other activities normally associated with a bond campaign. The judicial officer, however, should not use public facilities such as stationery, postage, machines, equipment, use of state employees during working hours, vehicles, office space and publications in these organization efforts.
2) CJC Canon 7(A)(4) permits a judicial officer to speak on behalf of measures that will improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice. A judicial officer may speak at public groups such as PTAs, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce and other community bodies to promote the levy and/or juvenile court facility.
3) A judicial officer may issue press releases and comments of encouragement to the campaign but these actions should not be accomplished by use of public facilities or the use of state employees during working hours.
4) A judicial officer may solicit community support individually or collectively by written materials or personal contact or normal activities of a campaign but a judicial officer may not personally solicit funds in support of the ballot measure.
5) RCW Chap. 42.52 does not apply to court employees of the superior courts. Individual counties may have rules or ordinances which address the permissible campaign activities for employees which the judicial officer should consult. A judicial officer should require that court employees engage in no campaign activities on behalf of the ballot measure during working hours.
6) Subsections (b) and (c) are available exemptions in RCW 42.52.180 for judicial officers participating in these activities.
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