Previous Code of Judicial Conduct - Canons
- The previous standards for the ethical conduct of judges and judicial candidate, effective October 9, 1995 through December 31, 2010*
Show all Canons.
Judges shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. Judges should participate in establishing, maintaining and enforcing high standards of judicial conduct, and shall personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary will be preserved. The provisions of this Code are to be construed and applied to further that objective.
Deference to the judgments and rulings of courts depends upon public confidence in the integrity and independence of judges. The integrity and independence of judges depends in turn upon their acting without fear or favor. Although judges should be independent, they must comply with the law, including the provisions of this Code. Public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary is maintained by the adherence of each judge to this responsibility. Conversely, violation of this Code diminishes public confidence in the judiciary and thereby does injury to the system of government under law.
Judges should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all their activities.
- Judges should respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
- Judges should not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence their judicial conduct or judgment. Judges should not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor should judges convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence them. Judges should not testify voluntarily as character witnesses.
Maintaining the prestige of judicial office is essential to a system of government in which the judiciary functions independently of the executive and legislative branches. Respect for the judicial office facilitates the orderly conduct of legitimate judicial functions. Judges should distinguish between proper and improper use of the prestige of office in all of their activities.
The testimony of judges as character witnesses injects the prestige of their office into the proceeding in which they testify and may be misunderstood to be an official testimonial. This canon however, does not afford judges a privilege against testifying in response to a subpoena.
- Judges should not hold membership in any organization practicing discrimination prohibited by law.
Judges shall perform the duties of their office impartially and diligently.
The judicial duties of judges should take precedence over all other activities. Their judicial duties include all the duties of office prescribed by law. In the performance of these duties, the following standards apply:
- Adjudicative Responsibilities.
- Judges should be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence in it, and comply with the continuing judicial education requirements of GR 26. Judges should be unswayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism.
- Judges should maintain order and decorum in proceedings before them.
- Judges should be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom judges deal in their official capacity, and should require similar conduct of lawyers, and of the staff, court officials and others subject to their direction and control.
The duty to hear all proceedings fairly and with patience is not inconsistent with the duty to dispose promptly of the business of the court. Courts can be efficient and businesslike while being patient and deliberate.
- Judges should accord to every person who is legally interested in a proceeding, or that person's lawyer, full right to be heard according to law, and, except as authorized by law, neither initiate nor consider ex parte or other communications concerning a pending or impending proceeding. Judges, however, may obtain the advice of a disinterested expert on the law applicable to a proceeding before them, by amicus curiae only, if they afford the parties reasonable opportunity to respond.
The proscription against communications concerning a proceeding includes communications from lawyers, law teachers, and other persons who are not participants in the proceeding, except to the limited extent permitted. It does not preclude judges from consulting with other judges, or with court personnel whose function is to aid judges in carrying out their adjudicative responsibilities.
An appropriate and often desirable procedure for a court to obtain the advice of a disinterested expert on legal issues is to invite the expert to file a brief amicus curiae.
- Judges shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice.
A judge must perform judicial duties impartially and fairly. A judge who manifests bias on any basis in a proceeding impairs the fairness of the proceeding and brings the judiciary into disrepute.
- Judges should dispose promptly of the business of the court.
Prompt disposition of the court's business requires judges to devote adequate time to their duties, to be punctual in attending court and expeditious in determining matters under submission, and to insist that court officials, litigants and their lawyers cooperate with them to that end.
- Judges shall not, while a proceeding is pending or impending in any court, make any public comment that might reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness or make any nonpublic comment that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing. The judge shall require similar abstention on the part of court personnel subject to the judge's direction and control. This section does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining for public information the procedures of the court. This section does not apply to proceedings in which the judge is a litigant in a personal capacity.
- Judges shall not commend or criticize jurors for their verdict other than in a court order or opinion in a proceeding, but may express appreciation to jurors for their service to the judicial system and the community.
Commending or criticizing jurors for their verdict may imply a judicial expectation in future cases and may impair a juror's ability to be fair and impartial in a subsequent case.
- Administrative Responsibilities.
- Judges should diligently discharge their administrative responsibilities, maintain professional competence in judicial administration and facilitate the performance of the administrative responsibilities of other judges and court officials.
- Judges should require their staff and court officials subject to their direction and control to observe the standards of fidelity and diligence that apply to them.
- Judges should not make unnecessary appointments. They should exercise their power of appointment only on the basis of merit, avoiding nepotism and favoritism. They should not approve compensation of appointees beyond the fair value of services rendered.
Appointees of the judge include officials such as referees, commissioners, special masters, receivers, guardians and personnel such as clerks, secretaries and bailiffs. Consent by the parties to an appointment or an award of compensation does not relieve the judge of the obligation prescribed by this subsection.
- Disciplinary Responsibilities.
- Judges having actual knowledge that another judge has committed a violation of this Code should take appropriate action. Judges having actual knowledge that another judge has committed a violation of this Code that raises a substantial question as to the other judge's fitness for office should take or initiate appropriate corrective action, which may include informing the appropriate authority.
- Judges having actual knowledge that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct should take appropriate action. Judges having actual knowledge that a lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to the lawyer's fitness as a lawyer should take or initiate appropriate corrective action, which may include informing the appropriate authority.
- Judges should disqualify themselves in a proceeding in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances in which:
- the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;
- the judge previously served as a lawyer or was a material witness in the matter in controversy, or a lawyer with whom the judge previously practiced law served during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter or such lawyer has been a material witness concerning it;
- the judge knows that, individually or as a fiduciary, the judge or the judge's spouse or member of the judge's family residing in the judge's household, has an economic interest in the subject matter in controversy or in a party to the proceeding, or is an officer, director or trustee of a party or has any other interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding, unless there is a remittal of disqualification;
- the judge or the judge's spouse or member of the judge's family residing in the judge's household, or the spouse of such a person:
- is a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, or trustee of a party;
- is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding;
- is to the judge's knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding.
The fact that a lawyer in a proceeding is affiliated with a law firm with which a lawyer-relative of the judge is affiliated does not of itself disqualify the judge. Under appropriate circumstances, the fact that "their impartiality might reasonably be questioned" under Canon 3(D)(1), or that the lawyer-relative is known by the judge to have an interest in the law firm that could be "substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding" may require the judge's disqualification.
- Judges should inform themselves about their personal and fiduciary economic interests, and make a reasonable effort to inform themselves about the personal economic interests of their spouse and minor children residing in their household.
- Remittal of Disqualification. A judge disqualified by the terms of Canon 3(D)(1)(c) or Canon 3(D)(1)(d) may, instead of withdrawing from the proceeding, disclose on the record the basis of the disqualification. If, based on such disclosure, the parties and lawyers, independently of the judge's participation, all agree in writing or on the record that the judge's relationship is immaterial or that the judge's economic interest is de minimis, the judge is no longer disqualified, and may participate in the proceeding. When a party is not immediately available, the judge may proceed on the assurance of the lawyer that the party's consent will be subsequently given.
Judges may engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.
Judges, subject to the proper performance of their judicial duties, may engage in the following quasi-judicial activities, if in doing so they do not cast doubt on their capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before them:
- They may speak, write, lecture, teach and participate in other activities concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.
- They may appear at a public hearing before an executive or legislative body or official on matters concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice, and they may otherwise consult with an executive or legislative body or official, but only on matters concerning the administration of justice.
- Judges may serve as members, officers or directors of an organization or governmental agency devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice. They may assist such an organization in raising funds and may participate in their management and investment, but should not personally solicit contributions from the public. They may attend fund raising activities. They may make recommendations to public and private fund granting agencies on projects and programs concerning the law, the legal system and the administration of justice.
As judicial officers and persons specially learned in the law, judges are in a unique position to contribute to the improvement of the law, the legal system and the administration of justice, including revision of substantive and procedural law and improvement of criminal and juvenile justice. To the extent that their time permits, they are encouraged to do so, either independently or through a bar association, judicial conference, or other organization dedicated to the improvement of the law.
Use of an organization's letterhead for fund raising or membership solicitation is permissible provided the letterhead lists only the judge's name and position in the organization, and if comparable designations are listed for other persons.
Judges must not be speakers or guests of honor at an organization's fund raising event, but attendance at such an event is permissible if otherwise consistent with this Code. Judges may pay to attend an organization's fund raising event.
Extrajudicial activities are governed by Canon 5.
Judges shall regulate their extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with their judicial duties.
- Avocational Activities. Judges may write, lecture, teach and speak on nonlegal subjects, and engage in the arts, sports and other social and recreational activities, if such avocational activities do not detract from the dignity of their office or interfere with the performance of their judicial duties.
Complete separation of judges from extrajudicial activities is neither possible nor wise; they should not become isolated from the society in which they live.
- Civic and Charitable Activities. Judges may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon their impartiality or interfere with the performance of their judicial duties. Judges may serve as officers, directors, trustees or nonlegal advisors of an educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization not conducted for the economic or political advantage of its members, subject to the following limitations:
- Judges should not serve if it is likely that the organization will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before them or will be regularly engaged in adversary proceedings in this state's courts. Comment The changing nature of some organizations and of their relationship to the law makes it necessary for judges to reexamine regularly the activities of each organization with which they are affiliated to determine if it is proper for them to continue their relationship with it. For example, in many jurisdictions charitable hospitals are now more frequently in court than in the past.
- Judges should not use the prestige of their office to solicit contributions for any educational, religious, charitable, fraternal or civic organization, but they may be listed as officers, directors or trustees of such an organization. They should not be speakers or the guest of honor at an organization's fund raising events, but they may attend such events.
Judges may pay to attend an organization's fund raising event. Participation in fund raising activities for organizations devoted to the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice are governed by Canon 4.
Use of an organization's letterhead lists only the judge's name and position in the organization, and if comparable designations are listed for other persons
- Financial Activities.
- Judges should refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to reflect adversely on their impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of their judicial duties or exploit their judicial position.
- Judges should not involve themselves in frequent business transactions with lawyers or persons likely to come before the court on which they serve.
- Subject to the requirements of Canon 5(C)(1) and (2), judges may hold and manage investments, including real estate, and engage in other remunerative activity, but should not serve as officers, directors, managers, advisors or employees of any business.
See Application of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Section (B).
- Judges should manage their investments and other financial interests to minimize the number of cases in which they are disqualified. As soon as they can do so without serious financial detriment, they should divest themselves of investments and other financial interests that might require frequent disqualification.
- Judges should not accept, and should urge members of their families residing in their households not to accept a gift, bequest, favor or loan from anyone except as follows:
- judges may accept a gift incident to a public testimonial to them; books supplied by publishers on a complimentary basis for official use; or an invitation to judges and their spouses to attend a bar-related function or activity devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system or the administration of justice;
- judges or members of their families residing in their households may accept ordinary social hospitality; a gift, bequest, favor or loan from a relative; a wedding or engagement gift, a loan from a lending institution in its regular course of business on the same terms generally available to persons who are not judges; or a scholarship or fellowship awarded on the same terms applied to other applicants;
- judges or members of their families residing in their households may accept any other gift, bequest, favor or loan only if the donor is not a party or other person whose interests have come or are likely to come before the judge, and the judge reports it in the same manner as compensation is reported in Canon 6(C).
This canon does not apply to contributions to a judge's campaign for judicial office, a matter governed by Canon 7.
- Judges are not required by this Code to disclose their income, debts, or investments, except as provided in this canon and Canons 3 and 6 or as otherwise required by law.
Canon 3 requires judges to disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which they have a financial interest, however small; Canon 5 requires judges to refrain from engaging in business and from financial activities that might interfere with the impartial performance of their judicial duties; Canon 6 requires judges to report all compensation they receive for activities outside their judicial office. Judges have the rights of ordinary citizens, including the right to privacy of their financial affairs, except to the extent that limitations thereon are required to safeguard the proper performance of their duties. Owning and receiving income from investments do not as such affect the performance of a judge's duties.
- Information acquired by judges in their judicial capacity should not be used or disclosed by them in financial dealings or for any other purpose not related to their judicial duties.
- Subject to the limitations and requirements of Canon 6, judges may accept compensation and reimbursement of expenses for the solemnization of marriages, performed outside of regular court hours, pursuant to RCW 26.04.050.
- Fiduciary Activities. Judges shall not serve as executors, administrators, trustees, guardians or other fiduciaries, except for the estate, trust or person of members of their families, and then only if such service will not interfere with the proper performance of their judicial duties. As family fiduciaries judges are subject to the following restrictions:
- Judges shall not serve if it is likely that as a fiduciary they will be engaged in proceedings that would ordinarily come before them, or if the estate, trust or ward becomes involved in adversary proceedings in the court on which they serve or one under its appellate jurisdiction.
- While acting as a fiduciary, judges are subject to the same restrictions on financial activities that apply to them in their personal capacities.
Judges' obligations under this canon and their obligations as a fiduciary may come into conflict. For example, judges should resign as trustees if it would result in detriment to the trust to divest it of holdings whose retention would place the judge in violation of Canon 5(C)(4).
- Arbitration. Judges should not participate as arbitrators or mediators or otherwise perform judicial functions in a private capacity unless expressly authorized by law.
- Practice of Law. Judges shall not practice law. Notwithstanding this prohibition, judges may act pro se and may, without compensation, give legal advice to and draft or review documents for members of their families.
- Extrajudicial Appointments. Judges should not accept appointment to a governmental committee, commission or other position 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. Judges, however, may represent their country, state or locality on ceremonial occasions or in connection with historical, educational and cultural activities.
Valuable services have been rendered in the past to the states and the nation by judges appointed by the executive to undertake important extrajudicial assignments. The appropriateness of conferring these assignments on judges must be reassessed, however, in the light of the demands on the judiciary created by today's crowded dockets and the need to protect the courts from involvement in extrajudicial matters that may prove to be controversial. Judges should not be expected or permitted to accept governmental appointments that could interfere with the efficiency, effectiveness and independence of the judiciary.
Judges shall regularly file reports of compensation received for quasi-judicial and extra-judicial activities.
Judges may receive compensation and reimbursement of expenses for the quasi-judicial and extrajudicial activities permitted by this Code, if the source of such payments does not give the appearance of influencing the judges in their judicial duties or otherwise give the appearance of impropriety, subject to the following restrictions:
- Compensation. Compensation shall not exceed a reasonable amount nor shall it exceed what a person who is not a judge would receive for the same activity.
- Expense Reimbursement. Expense reimbursement should be limited to the actual cost of travel, food and lodging reasonably incurred by the judge and, where appropriate to the occasion, by the judge's spouse. Any payment in excess of such an amount is compensation.
- Public Reports. A judge shall make such financial disclosures as required by law.
The Code does not prohibit judges from accepting honoraria or speaking fees provided that the compensation is reasonable and commensurate with the task performed. Judges should ensure, however, that no conflicts are created by the arrangement. Judges must not appear to trade on their judicial position for personal advantage. Judges should not spend significant time away from court duties to meet speaking or writing commitments for compensation. In addition, the source of the payments must not raise any question of undue influence or the judges' ability or willingness to be impartial.
Judges shall refrain from political activity inappropriate to their judicial office.
- Political Conduct in General.
- Judges or candidates for election to judicial office shall not:
- act as leaders or hold any office in a political organization;
- make speeches for a political organization or nonjudicial candidate or publicly endorse a nonjudicial candidate for public office;
- solicit funds for or pay an assessment or make a contribution to a political organization or nonjudicial candidate;
- attend political functions sponsored by political organizations or purchase tickets for political party dinners or other functions, except as authorized by Canon 7(A)(2);
- identify themselves as members of a political party, except as necessary to vote in an election;
- contribute to a political party, a political organization or nonjudicial candidate.
- During judicial campaigns, judges or candidates for election to judicial office may attend political gatherings, including functions sponsored by political organizations, and speak to such gatherings on their own behalf or that of another judicial candidate.
- Judges may contribute to, but shall not solicit funds for another judicial candidate.
- Judges shall resign from office when they become candidates either in a primary or in a general election for a nonjudicial office, except that they may continue to hold office while being a candidate for election to or serving as a delegate in a state constitutional convention, if they are otherwise permitted by law to do so.
See State ex. rel. Reynolds v. Howell, 70 Wash. 467, 126 Pac. 954 (1912) and State ex. rel. Chandler v. Howell, 104 Wash. 99, 175 Pac. 569 (1918).
- Judges should not engage in any other political activity except on behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal system or the administration of justice.
- Campaign Conduct.
- Candidates, including an incumbent judge, for a judicial office;
- should maintain the dignity appropriate to judicial office, and should encourage members of their families to adhere to the same standards of political conduct that apply to them;
- should prohibit public officials or employees subject to their direction or control from doing for them what they are prohibited from doing under this canon; and except to the extent authorized under Canon 7(B)(2) or (B)(3), they should not allow any other person to do for them what they are prohibited from doing under this canon;
- should not
- make pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of the office;
- make statements that commit or appear to commit the candidate with respect to cases, controversies or issues that are likely to come before the court; or
- knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent.
Section 7(B)(1)(c) prohibits a candidate for judicial office from making statements that appear to commit the candidate regarding cases, controversies or issues likely to come before the court. As a corollary, a candidate should emphasize in any public statement the candidate's duty to uphold the law regardless of his or her personal views. See also Section 3(A)(6), the general rule on public comment by judges. Section 7(B)(1)(c) does not prohibit a candidate from making pledges or promises respecting improvements in court administration. Nor does this Section prohibit an incumbent judge from making private statements to other judges or court personnel in the performance of judicial duties. This Section applies to any statement made in the process of securing judicial office.
- Candidates, including incumbent judges, for a judicial office that is filled by public election between competing candidates shall not personally solicit or accept campaign contributions. They may establish committees of responsible persons to secure and manage campaign funds and to obtain public statements of support. Such committees may solicit campaign contributions and public support from lawyers and others. Candidates' committees may solicit contributions no earlier than 120 days from the date when filing for that office is first permitted and no later than 60 days after the final election in which the candidate participated. Candidates shall not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of themselves or members of their families. Candidates shall comply with all laws requiring public disclosure of campaign finances, which may require knowledge of campaign contributions. When an unsolicited contribution is delivered directly to the candidate, receipt and prompt delivery of the contribution to the appropriate campaign official is not prohibited.
Although campaign contributions of which a judge has knowledge are not prohibited, these contributions may be relevant to recusal.
- An incumbent judge who is a candidate for office without a competing candidate, may obtain public support and campaign contributions in the manner provided in Canon 7(B)(2).