State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 95-03
May a judicial officer be a member of a group of citizens who are joining together to encourage the passage of a school levy?
The following facts were submitted to the committee: A judicial officer has been asked to be a member of a group of citizens who are joining together to encourage passage of a school levy. It is important to the operation of the school district that this levy pass. The judicial officer would like to participate on the committee. The judicial officer expects to speak to individuals and groups and send letters to residents of the district. The judicial officer will not directly or indirectly engage in any fundraising activities.
In order to analyze whether it is appropriate under In Re Staples, 105 Wn.2d 905, 719 P.2d 558 (1986) for a judicial officer to participate in a political activity the judicial officer should considering the following:
1) Whether the political activity is on behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.
2) Whether the issue is a partisan political activity.
The Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 7(A)(4) prohibits a judicial officer from supporting a ballot measure that is unrelated to the law, the legal system and the administration of justice. The ballot issue in Staples concerned an activity related to the law, the legal system and the administration of justice. The support of a school levy is not concerned with a law related activity, therefore, a judicial officer is not permitted to join a group of citizens who have joined together to encourage the passage of a school levy.
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