State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 95-16
Is it permissible for a newly elected judicial officer who, prior to taking office was the chief deputy prosecutor, to write a letter of recommendation for a police officer who is applying to be police chief for a city outside of the court’s jurisdiction, if the letter is not written on official letterhead and is based on knowledge obtained about the police officer’s performance of his duties while the judicial officer was chief deputy prosecutor?
Under the above fact pattern, is it permissible for the judicial officer to be noted by name as a reference?
Is it permissible for a judicial officer who also serves as a trustee for a college to write a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference for a past or present college administrator, if such recommendation written on non-judicial letterhead is based on knowledge obtained while serving as a trustee?
Letters of recommendation have been addressed in opinions 86-12, 87-1, 87-4, 87-10, 88-5, 92-17 and 93-24. These opinions permit a judicial officer to write letters of recommendation under the circumstances outlined above.
The judicial officer may be noted as a reference by the police officer. The reference should not indicate the title of the judicial officer and the address for the reference should not be the judicial officer’s work address. In responding to inquiries which result from the use as a reference, the judicial officer should follow the same guidelines as are appropriate for letters of recommendation.
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