State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 98-03
May a permanent part-time court commissioner act as a guardian ad litem if those duties do not take place while he or she is acting as a part-time commissioner but rather as an attorney?
The court uses several practicing attorneys to act as permanent part-time court commissioners. They hear various matters including but not limited to dependency, truancy, dissolution and show cause dockets. RCW 2.08.185 provides in part that an attorney may not serve as a superior court judge pro tempore or court commissioner pro tempore in a judicial district while appointed to serve on a case in that judicial district as a guardian ad litem. This statute is applicable if the judicial district is within divisions one or two of the Court of Appeals and has a population of more than one hundred thousand.
The Code of Judicial Conduct does not prohibit a permanent part-time court commissioner from acting as a guardian ad litem if the dual roles are appropriate under RCW 2.08.185. Even if service in the dual roles is appropriate, the judicial officer may need to disclose that they also function as a guardian ad litem in the same court as they perform as a part-time commissioner.
See Opinion 96-8.
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