State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 97-16
May a full time salaried municipal court judge pro tem serve in district court for per diem pay?
The full- time municipal court judge is assigned to night court Monday through Wednesday and all day on Saturday and Sunday. The municipal court judge is regularly scheduled off on Thursday and Friday. The full time municipal court judge pro tems in district court only on regularly scheduled days off/or during the day hours when the municipal court judge would not be scheduled to work in municipal court.
CJC Canon 2(A) provides that judges should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Canon 3 provides that judicial duties should take precedence over all other activities. These duties include promptly disposing of the business of the court (Canon 3(A)(6)) and discharging administrative responsibilities, maintaining professional competence in judicial administration and facilitating the performance of administrative responsibilities of other judges and court officials (Canon 3(B)(1)).
The Code of Judicial Conduct does not prohibit a full time municipal court judge from sitting as a pro tem judge in district court provided that service does not interfere with the performance of the judge’s judicial duties.
This question is distinguishable from the question asked in Opinion 91-25. In that situation the question addressed a full time district court judge acting as a pro tem judge. That opinion relies on RCW 3.74.020 which provides that full time district court judges are ineligible for public employment during the term for which they have been elected. There is not a parallel provision prohibiting municipal court judges from outside public employment in the statutes or in the city’s municipal code. However, judicial officers should consult the applicable municipal code to ascertain there are no provisions restricting service as pro tem judges.
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