State of Washington
Ethics Advisory CommitteeOpinion 99-02
May a judicial officer serve on a municipal citizens’ committee which will make recommendations to the city council regarding council member compensation?
The judicial officer has been asked to serve on a city citizens’ committee. The judicial officer previously served on the city council and was also the mayor of the city. The city council voted to appoint an independent compensation task force to make recommendations to the council regarding council member compensation. The committee will be comprised of representatives from community interest groups and a former council member. The city council will confirm the judicial officer’s appointment. The final decision will be made in about six months, and the committee will be a recommending body only. Any raise will be effective for council members elected after the council votes to approve the raise.
CJC Canon 5(G) provides that judges may not accept appointment to a governmental committee that is concerned with issues of fact or policy on matters other than the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. In this situation, the committee members will be looking at the issue of compensation for members of the city council. Canon 5(G) prohibits serving on this committee because it is a governmental committee concerned with issues unrelated to the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.
Also see Opinions 88-2, 90-4, 90-12 and 90-16.
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