State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 96-14
May a judicial officer serve as the president of a university alumni association?
The judicial officer has been asked to serve as the president of a state university alumni association. The term is for one year. In addition to the customary duties of a president, the judicial officer would serve as an ex-officio member of the university’s board of regents. The president of the alumni association is not given free tickets to sporting or other university events. The alumni association does cover the expenses of the president’s attendance at one of its club’s events.
As president of the association, the judicial officer would preside over monthly executive committee meetings and over full board meetings three times a year.
The mission of the alumni association is to support the university and to promote fellowship among the alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends.
The time commitment is insubstantial. The alumni association does not engage in fundraising activities. It is independent of the university and to the judge’s knowledge has never been a party to any litigation.
CJC Canon 5(B) provides that judicial officers may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon their impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties. Therefore, a judicial officer may serve as the president of the university’s alumni association provided the judicial officer does not participate in fundraising activities.
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