State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 95-13
May a newly appointed judicial officer fulfill an employment contract with a state university law school where the contract expires just six weeks after the judicial officer will take office. If the judicial officer is precluded from accepting the salary personally may the judicial officer direct that the compensation be paid to a charity?
The judicial officer has recently been appointed to the district court bench. Prior to being appointed to the bench, the judicial officer entered into a contract with a state university law school to teach a trial advocacy class for two quarters; the second quarter begins shortly before the judicial officer assumes office.
Opinion 91-21 provides in part that judges of the courts of limited jurisdiction are ineligible for public employment during the term in which they have been elected.
The fact that a judicial officer has entered into a contract for teaching a class on trial advocacy at a state university before the judicial officer was appointed to office does not affect the validity of Opinion 91-21. RCW 3.74.020 prohibits a judicial officer from continuing in a public employee status. Therefore, the judicial officer may not accept compensation for teaching at a public university. The fact the compensation could be paid to a charity does not change the judicial officer’s employment status and does not affect the prohibition. If the judicial officer is not compensated and can arrange and assume the status of a guest lecturer the judicial officer may finish teaching the second quarter of the trial advocacy class.
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