State of Washington
Ethics Advisory Committee
- May a judicial officer speak on a nonpartisan topic at the national convention of a political organization?
- May judicial campaign contributions be used to retire the judge’s campaign debt to a member of the judge’s family?
- May a judicial officer allow his or her name to be attributed to a book jacket quotation commenting on a fiction book?
- CJC Canon 7(A) provides that a judicial officer shall not attend political functions sponsored by political organizations except while a candidate for judicial office. Therefore, a judicial officer may not attend the national convention of a political party and address the gathering even if the judicial officer’s address is on a nonpartisan topic.
The factual situation outlined in Opinion 95-7 is different from the question posed in this opinion. In that opinion the group the judicial officer is addressing is not affiliated with or supported by a political party whereas here the judicial officer would be attending the national convention of a political party which is an official party function paid for and sponsored as a party event.
- CJC Canon 7(B) provides in part that candidates shall not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of themselves or members of their families. It continues, candidates shall comply with all laws requiring public disclosure of campaign finance. RCW 42.17.125 permits the repayment of loans made to the campaign. Only those made by the candidate are limited to $3,000. Therefore, contributions may be used to retire the campaign debt to a member of the judicial officer’s family unless otherwise prohibited by the PDC. It should be reported as required by RCW chap. 42.17.
- CJC Canon 2(B) provides that judges should not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others. Therefore, a judicial officer may not allow the judicial officer’s name in conjunction with his/her title to be attributed to a book jacket quotation commenting on a fiction book as that would be using the prestige of the office to advance the private interests of others.
See also Opinion 87-4.
The Supreme Court adopted a new Code of Judicial Conduct effective January 1, 2011. In addition to reviewing the ethics advisory opinions, the following should be noted: