State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 96-16
May a judicial officer attend a “A Day of Remembrance” ceremony to honor individuals who have been, or are currently victims of domestic violence? If the judicial officer may attend, what guidelines should be followed while the judicial officer is in attendance. If asked to make a speech, may the judicial officer do so? May the judicial officer give a newspaper interview concerning domestic violence?
The judicial officer is a district court judge.
The judicial officer has been invited to attend “A Day of Remembrance” ceremony. It will honor those individuals who have been, or are currently victims of domestic violence. The national theme this year is “Domestic Violence: There is No Excuse”. This ceremony will mark the beginning of a series of events to promote public awareness of the issue of domestic violence in our nation, cities and towns.
A committee comprised of local victim advocacy groups, members of the criminal justice system, and a local family service center have been meeting for six months to develop a month long campaign. This opening ceremony is one of several events that have been planned for the upcoming month.
CJC Canon 2(A) provides that judges should conduct themselves at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Canon 4(A) provides in part that judges may participate in activities to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice, if in so doing they do not cast doubt upon their impartiality to decide any issue that may come before them.
A judicial officer may attend a “A Day of Remembrance” ceremony to honor individuals who have been, or are currently victims of domestic violence. Even though the judicial officer may attend the event, the judicial officer should recognize that his or her mannerisms, actions or speech should not cast doubt upon the judicial officer’s impartiality to decide any issue that may come before them. The judicial officer, therefore, should not act as an advocate or in any manner indicate a predisposition as to how he or she might rule in a domestic violence case.
See Opinions 93-19, 95-7, 95-8, 96-2 and 96-9.
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