An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. As the
Commission on Judicial Conduct is charged with maintaining the integrity and independence of
the judiciary, a member should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing, and
should personally observe, high standards of conduct.
These rules apply equally to members and alternates of the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
The use of the term “member” in these policies includes “alternate”, unless the context clearly
SECTION 1. GENERAL POLICIES
Policy 1.1 Attendance
(a) Participation. Decisions by the Commission are enhanced by the participation of all
members and alternates at all Commission meetings. Although alternate members may vote on a
matter only when their designated regular member does not vote on that matter, alternate
members are encouraged to participate in all Commission discussions.
(b) Attendance and Absence. While circumstances may not permit attendance by every
member and every alternate member at every meeting, in the interest of case consistency and
procedural integrity all members and alternate members are strongly encouraged to attend all
Commission meetings. All members and alternate members should make every effort, especially
during the first 12 months of their Commission membership, to attend all regularly scheduled
meetings, and, during their term of office never to miss more than two consecutive meetings. All
members and alternates should also make every effort to attend the annual member
Policy 1.2. Meeting Dates
The regular Commission meeting date will be the first
Friday of every other month, commencing in February of each year, unless otherwise scheduled
by the Commission or the Chair, with the business meeting scheduled at 11:00 a.m. Prior to the
beginning of the calendar year, the Chair shall set a full schedule of meetings.
Policy 1.3. Commission Retreat
After consultation with the members, the Chair may
schedule an annual retreat for the purpose of reviewing Commission policies, philosophy and
Policy 1.4. Minute Keeping
The secretary of the Commission will maintain two
separate sets of minutes, one for the business meetings of the Commission and one for meetings
involving the consideration of complaints.
Policy 1.5. Amendment of Policies
(a) Adoption. These policies may only be amended or rescinded, or new policies
adopted, by the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Commission.
(b) Notification. Notice of any Commission action on these policies shall be given to all
members of the Commission at least 30 days before the meeting at which such action will be
taken, unless the time period is shortened by unanimous vote of the Commission.
(c) Public Disclosure. Upon adoption, these policies and any amendments shall be made
available for public inspection and shall be forwarded to:
Commission on Judicial Conduct
P. O. Box 1817
Olympia, WA 98507
SECTION 2. COMMISSION MEMBERSHIP
Policy 2.1. Member Obligations
(a) Notification. When an individual is appointed to the Commission, the member must
notify the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).
(b) Orientation. When a new member is appointed to the Commission, the member shall
attend an orientation conducted by the staff.
(c) Financial Disclosure. Members are subject to the financial disclosure requirements
of the PDC. A Personal Financial Affairs Statement must be filed annually with the PDC
pursuant to Chapter 42.17 RCW.
Policy 2.2. Representation by Members
(a) Representation before Commission. No member may represent or counsel a judge
in a matter before the Commission during the member’s term on the Commission or within two
years after the member’s term has expired.
(b) Communications with Media. Commission members shall not communicate on
behalf of the Commission with the news media regarding Commission business, except as
provided in this policy. Inquiries about the Commission’s official position in all matters may be
responded to only by the Executive Director, the Chair of the Commission, or any Commission
member designated by the Chair to represent the Commission.
Policy 2.3. Recommendations
The Executive Director may respond to an inquiry
regarding a member’s length of service with the Commission. Inquiries regarding a member’s
performance on the Commission, for the purpose of recommendation, are not appropriate for
response from the Executive Director, members, or staff, except that the Executive Director or
the Chair may, in their discretion, provide comment on a member’s performance, but only to that member’s appointing authority. Any such comment shall not identify any particular disciplinary
matter nor shall it disclose the substance of any deliberations as to any disciplinary matter.
Policy 2.4. Removal of a Member
No member may otherwise be removed from the
Commission before the end of his or her term except upon good cause found by the appointing
Policy 2.5. Enforcement of Policies
While members and alternates are expected to
comply with all member policies, and while most member-policy noncompliance issues can likely be resolved informally and collegially without recourse to the appointing authorities,
ultimate enforcement of these policies is in the hands of each member’s respective appointing
authority. Pursuant to RCW 2.64.030, members may be removed from the Commission before
the end of their term only if they cease to hold the position that qualified them for appointment
or upon good cause found by the respective appointing authority. Thus, the procedures set forth
in this section are not mandatory but are merely voluntary guidelines for a possible course of
As used in these policies, the word “should” denotes a preferred, but not mandatory
course of conduct, while the words “shall,” “will,” and “must” denote a mandatory course of
If a member or alternate fails to comply with a policy stating a mandatory course of
conduct, or fails regularly to attend Commission meetings, the Chair or the Executive Director
may consult the member or alternate as to the cause of such failure and may, as they may deem
appropriate under the circumstances, report thereon to the other members. Depending on the
nature and extent of the noncompliance, the Chair or Executive Director may engage in further
consultation with the non-complying member or alternate member, and/or may refer the matter
to the Commission as a whole, which may, by majority vote of regular members, recommend
appropriate further corrective action, which may include a recommendation to that member’s
appointing authority that such member or alternate be removed from office.
Any recommendation made to an appointing authority to remove a member or alternate
member from office should state the basis for the recommendation, list the member conduct
policies allegedly violated, and describe the conduct in question. Before the Commission
forwards such recommendation to the non-complying member’s (or alternate member’s)
appointing authority, the Commission should notify the non-complying member or alternate
member of such recommendation and should give that member or alternate member 10 calendar
days to submit to the Commission a written statement agreeing or disagreeing with the
Commission recommendation, which statement should then be submitted by the Commission,
along with its own recommendation, to the appointing authority.
Unless and until the appointing authority removes a member or alternate member, or that
member or alternate member resigns their membership in the Commission, that member or alternate shall retain all powers, and shall be obligated to perform all duties, of regular or
alternate membership as the case may be.
SECTION 3. RULES OF CONDUCT
Policy 3.1. Confidentiality
(a) General Application. All disciplinary proceedings before the Commission are
confidential. The fact that a complaint has been made, or a statement has been given to the
Commission and all papers and matters submitted to the Commission together with the
investigation and initial proceedings conducted pursuant to the CJCRPs, shall be confidential.
(b) Applicability to Member’s Staff. Commission members and their personal staff
must maintain the confidentiality of disciplinary proceedings.
(c) Gag Rule. A Commission member shall not speak publicly about a confidential
disciplinary proceeding, or about a public disciplinary proceeding before the Commission until
the matter is final (i.e., no appeal has been filed and the time for appeal has expired, or if there is
an appeal, until the mandate of the Supreme Court has issued.)
(d) File Destruction. Members shall ensure that all confidential documents in their
possession are secured. Members shall return their complaint files of closed matters or matters in
which the member is disqualified. Members are advised periodically as to which ongoing files
they should have in their complaint notebooks.
(e) Former Members, Disciplinary Counsel, Investigative Counsel and Staff. These
confidentiality rules also apply to former Commission members, disciplinary counsel,
investigative counsel and staff with regard to information they had access to while serving the
Policy 3.2. Appearance of Impropriety
(a) Private Conduct. A member should respect and comply with the law and should
conduct the member’s personal and professional business at all times in a manner that promotes
public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Commission.
(b) Independent Judgment. In discharging responsibilities, a member should not allow
the member’s family, social, or other relationships to influence the member’s conduct or
(c) Prestige of Office. A member should not lend the prestige of the member’s office to
advance the private interests of others, nor convey or knowingly permit others to convey the
impression that they are in a special position to influence the member.
(d) Testimony before Commission. A member should not testify voluntarily as a
character witness in a Commission proceeding.
(e) Financial Dealings. A member should refrain from financial and business dealings
that directly or indirectly reflect adversely on the member’s impartiality, interfere with the
proper performance of Commission duties, or exploit the person’s position as a member.
Policy 3.3. Political Activity
(a) Judicial Campaigns. No member shall participate in any state or local judicial
campaign, except where the member is a candidate for judicial office. Members shall not
endorse, nor contribute to campaigns for state or local judicial office or state or local judicial
appointment. When a member is a leader of an organization that endorses or rates judicial
candidates, the member shall not participate in that process.
(b) Non-Judicial Campaigns. A member who is involved in any other political
campaign shall not make reference to the member’s affiliation with the Commission or act in any
way that may indicate support for the candidate by the Commission.
SECTION 4. COMMISSION PROCEEDING
Policy 4.1. Abstention
A member qualified to vote at a meeting of the Commission
must vote in favor of or in opposition to each motion brought to a vote during that meeting,
unless grounds exist for that member’s disqualification.
Policy 4.2. Public Statements
After a judge has been served with a Statement of
Charges, the Commission shall issue a public statement to the major wire services and to the
local news media where the judge serves, and subsequently issues a public statement when a
fact-finding hearing is set and when a final decision is filed.
Policy 4.3. Functions of Presiding Officer
(a) Role. The Commission or its Chair may select a presiding officer for a disciplinary
proceeding. The role of the presiding officer includes making preliminary procedural rulings
regarding discovery and other deadlines, and various issues of protocol as they may arise. Issues
regarding more substantive or potentially dispositive matters shall be considered by the
Commission hearing panel.
(b) Rulings. The presiding officer shall make interim rulings, which may be discussed
and considered by the other members of the panel. When there is disagreement with a ruling by
the presiding officer during a hearing, any other participating member may request a recess.
Policy 4.4. Questioning of Witnesses
Members may question witnesses during a
hearing at the conclusion of counsel’s interrogation, under the direction of the presiding officer.
Policy 4.5. Confidentiality of Proceedings
(a) Staff Contact. After the Statement of Charges is served on the respondent judge,
members shall cease to have contact with the investigative staff concerning substantive matters
in that proceeding. Any further interaction between members and investigative staff in that
proceeding is limited to logistical matters, where necessary. Members may continue to contact
the Executive Director and non-investigative staff in logistical and other collateral matters, such
as scheduling of the hearing, the distribution of materials, and other duties. The Commission
may direct the Executive Director to facilitate appropriate communications between the
Commission, respondent, and disciplinary counsel.
(b) Member Deliberations. After the Statement of Charges is served on the respondent
judge and prior to the commencement of the public hearing pursuant to CJCRP 24 in a matter,
members shall not discuss testimony or evidence or the merits of the case with anyone other than
Commission members and Commission counsel. Because member deliberations require the full
participation of all hearing panel members, members are encouraged to limit discussions on a
case to discussions with the full panel. If members discuss a case with other members other than
with the full panel, however, they are encouraged to summarize those discussions for the full
panel so that other members may benefit from those discussions.
After the commencement of the public hearing under CJCRP 24 in a matter, members shall not
discuss testimony or evidence or the merits of the case with anyone, including other members,
until deliberations in that matter have commenced, at which time they may, as a panel, have such
discussions with one another and with Commission counsel.
After the Statement of Charges is served on the respondent judge, members shall not seek or
consider information relating to a case except as presented to them in the proceeding or pursuant
to the Commission’s Rules of Procedure.
Policy 4.6. Recording of Proceedings
During disciplinary proceedings, recordings shall
be allowed in facilities which permit such recordings (as cost and availability make it practical to
reserve such facilities), provided the media personnel do not distract from the proceedings or
impair the dignity of the proceedings. To keep the proceedings from becoming disrupted, media
personnel are to observe the following:
(a) Equipment shall be mechanically quiet;
(b) Television and radio coverage should be pooled;
(c) No additional lights or flash shall be used;
(d) Once the proceeding has commenced, cameras should remain stationary until the
proceeding has recessed;
(e) Equipment shall be located at a reasonable distance from subject(s) being
photographed or video taped; and,
(f) No interview shall be conducted in the hearing room until the proceeding has
SECTION 5. MEMBER DISQUALIFICATION
Policy 5.1. Disqualification – General
(a) Conditions for Disqualification. Members shall disqualify themselves when they
cannot participate in a fair and reasonable manner or where their ability to do so might
reasonably be questioned, including, for example, where the member:
(1) has a fixed bias or prejudice for or against the judge or complainant, or
personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts relating to the matter or proceeding;
(2) is a lawyer or judge, and served as a lawyer or judge in connection with any
events relating to the matter or proceeding which is the subject of the complaint;
(3) is a lawyer and has a present or past substantial business association with the
lawyer who is representing a party;
(4) has been a material witness in a matter before the Commission;
(5) has a spouse, child, or other immediate family member who has a financial
interest in any events relating to the matter or proceeding, individually or as a fiduciary.
(b) Subject of Complaint. No member shall participate in a proceeding in which the
member is the subject of the complaint, a party, or a material witness,
(c) Disqualification by Other Members. If a member is the subject of a complaint,
remaining members should disqualify themselves if they have a manifest disqualifying interest
or if they doubt their ability to function impartially, as provided in CJCRP 3(e)(1), unless such
disqualification would result in a lack of a quorum under CJCRP 3(c).
(d) Unavailability of Member. Members who are not disqualified under CJC member
policies from participating in a matter, but who are otherwise unable or unavailable to participate
in a particular matter or proceeding, should disqualify themselves on the basis of their
unavailability and should notify the Executive Director and the member’s alternate member as
promptly as possible. Members shall make all reasonable efforts to be available to participate in
Policy 5.2. Disqualification by Lawyer-Members
(a) Prior Representation. If respondent’s attorney has represented a member in the
recent past, that member should disqualify himself or herself to avoid the appearance of
impropriety. Disqualification based on prior representation for matters in the more distant past is
discretionary, and depends on the circumstances of the representation, the agreement of the
parties, and the genuine belief of the member as to whether he or she can serve impartially. Such
member should disclose the date and nature of the prior representation to the parties and other
(b) Appearance before Respondent. When a lawyer-member is appearing before a
judge for pretrial or trial proceedings and learns the judge is the subject of a complaint or
investigation by the Commission, the lawyer-member shall disqualify himself or herself from
participating in that matter.
(c) Request for Respondent’s Disqualification. If a lawyer-member is representing a
client in a matter which is assigned to a judge against whom the Commission has filed a
Statement of Charges, the lawyer-member must seek the judge’s disqualification, and, if
disqualification is refused, the member shall disqualify himself or herself from participating on
matters involving those charges before the Commission.
SECTION 6. PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATION
Policy 6.1. Annual Evaluations
The Commission will evaluate the Executive Director
and investigative officer(s) annually. The Commission may, at its discretion, consult staff and
Policy 6.2. Compensation
(a) Staff. Commission staff shall receive any salary increases that are accorded to
employees of State government by the Legislature.
(b) Executive Director. The Commission shall establish the salary range for the
Executive Director. From time to time, the Commission’s Personnel Committee shall review
and make recommendations regarding any changes to the range. After considering the annual
performance appraisal conducted by the Personnel Committee, the Executive Committee shall
set the salary for the Executive Director. Based upon the performance appraisal, the Executive
Committee shall also determine any Cost of Living Adjustments established by the Legislature.
Policy 6.3. Complaints Concerning Staff
If a member receives a complaint (written or
oral) from a complainant, judicial officer or any other person, about a Commission staff member,
other than the Executive Director, the member shall refer the complaint either to the Executive
Director, the Chair, or the acting Chair. If a member receives a complaint about the Executive
Director, the member shall refer the complaint to the Chair or acting Chair.
SECTION 7. FINANCIAL RULES
Policy 7.1. Witness Fees
Pursuant to CJCRP 14(e) and WAC 292-09-150, witnesses
appearing for the Commission will be paid in the same amount as the Superior Court pays in the
judicial district in which the Commission hearing is being held.
Policy 7.2. Contracted Attorney Services
The Commission will contract with attorneys
of demonstrated experience, expertise, and reputation at no more than standard hourly rates, as
set by the Executive Director, for services required.
Policy 7.3. Expense Reimbursement
(a) Lodging. Reimbursement for lodging expenses within 50 miles of an employee’s or
member’s official residence or station is prohibited unless: 1) an overnight stay is necessary
because of back-to-back evening/early morning meetings, or 2) an overnight stay is necessary to
avoid driving in severe inclement weather, or 3) it is necessary to accommodate a health/safety
issue or disability. An exception to this policy for other conditions, on a case-by-case basis, must
be requested from the director of the Office of Financial Management (OFM). Any exception to
this policy will be submitted to OFM through the Executive Director.
(b) Meal Reimbursement. Members will be reimbursed up to the state meal allowance
if the following conditions are met:
(1) A member is in travel status during the entire meal period for the applicable
meal allowance: Breakfast (7:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.); Lunch (12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.); and, Dinner
(5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.) AND,
(2) A member is in travel status for at least three (3) hours beyond what is
considered a regularly scheduled work day (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). This is referred to as the three-hour rule. The three hours may consist of hours occurring before, after, or a combination of both
before and after what is considered a regularly scheduled work day. NOTE: If a member
qualifies for meal reimbursement under the three-hour rule and does not stay overnight, such
reimbursement is considered a taxable fringe benefit, OR,
(3) A member incurred a cost for a meal that was an integral part of a meeting or
training session (See Meals with Meetings below).
(c) Meals with Meetings. In accordance with regulations of the Office of Financial
Management (OFM), the Executive Director may authorize expenditures for meals, coffee,
and/or light refreshments at meetings or formal training sessions regardless of travel status and
without regard to the three-hour rule when the purpose of the meeting is to conduct official state
business or to provide training to state employees or state officials and the meals are an integral
part of the business meeting or training session.
(d) Airfare. All airline reservations shall be made through the CJC office to ensure all
legally mandated state contracts are adhered to. An exception to this rule would be if a flight
was canceled and it was necessary for the traveler to purchase another ticket with personal funds
in order to return home. Under this exception, the most economical flight should be chosen and
reimbursement would be approved.
(e) Rental Cars. All reservations for rental cars shall be made through the CJC office to
ensure that the state contract is adhered to. Rental cars should be used for official state business
only. State regulations and other applicable laws strictly limit liability coverage to authorized
state uses. Original receipts are necessary for gas purchases in order to claim reimbursement.
(f) Mileage Reimbursement. When a member drives a personal vehicle on agency
business, he/she may claim mileage reimbursement at the current state per mile rate. The
mileage shall be determined either by an actual odometer reading, from mapping software or
from the official state mileage map.
(g) Combining Personal Travel with Business. Members may combine vacation or
other personal travel with a legitimate CJC-related trip when; (1) the primary purpose of the trip
is official state business; AND, (2) the agency does not incur any extra expenses beyond the
normal expenses had the trip occurred without any personal time combined with the trip.
Approval for reimbursement must be received from the Executive Director prior to the beginning
of the trip.
Policy 7.4. Commission Member Compensation
Members shall be compensated at
the rate allowed for ‘class four’ boards and commissions pursuant to RCW 43.03.250(2), for
attending meetings of the Commission. The Chair shall designate official meetings or delegate
the Executive Director to do so. Additionally, the Chair or his/her delegate, the Executive
Director, may authorize compensation for members who attend other meetings, conferences, or
conventions as bona fide representatives of the Commission. Members shall notify staff if they
are ineligible for the compensation provided by RCW 43.03.250, or if they elect to waive receipt
of compensation. A government-employed member may accept compensation only if the
member is not employed full time by a government entity or does not receive compensation from
such government-employer for that day. Any member may waive, in writing, in whole or in part,
compensation for which the member is otherwise eligible on any given occasion.
For those members eligible to receive compensation for meeting
attendance, there is a presumption that compensation is waived if
the time to attend the meeting is less than two hours, including
travel to and from the meeting. Members should consider the
following nonexclusive factors in requesting compensation for
meetings requiring less than two hours to attend:
• loss of income in order to participate;
• expenses undergone to participate such as care taking costs;
• any other expense that the commission should reasonably offset for the
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