State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 97-03
May a judicial officer or the judicial officer’s spouse be a member of the county bar association foundation president’s council which raises funds for the bar association’s pro bono program? May the judicial officer or the judicial officer’s spouse pledge money to the council or serve as officers of the council?
Before being appointed to the bench, the judicial officer was a member of the county bar foundation president’s council. The purpose of the bar foundation is to raise funds for access to justice through the bar association’s pro bono program and its volunteer legal services program. Each member of the council has pledged a certain amount of money to be paid over the next four years. The judicial officer’s spouse, who is a lawyer, is also a member of the council and pledged funds to it.
May a judicial officer waive a fee for performing a wedding and suggest that a donation to the participant’s favorite charity, which they need not identify to the judicial officer, or to the bar association volunteer legal services program or other charitable organization devoted to the law, the legal system and the administration of justice?
CJC Canon 4(C) permits judicial officers to serve as members, officers and directors of an organization devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice. They may assist the organization in raising funds and may participate in their management and investment, but should not personally solicit contributions from the public. They may attend fundraising activities. Therefore, a judicial officer may be a member of the county bar association council which raises funds for the bar association’s pro bono program. The judicial officer may pledge money to the council and serve as an officer of the council.
The conduct of the spouse of a judicial officer is not regulated by the Code of Judicial Conduct.
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