October 2014 Bar Bulletin
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October 2014 Bar Bulletin

Ethics Opinion Backs KCBA Guideline on Judicial Campaigns


State of Washington Ethics Advisory Committee Opinion 14-07


May a judicial candidate who is not currently a judge or a full-time court commissioner, but who has, on occasion (perhaps a few days a month for one year), served as a judge pro tem, use a photograph of themselves wearing a judicial robe in campaign literature or electronic campaign communications? Does the non-judge candidate cure the misleading nature of the photograph by using a caption that says "Judge Pro Tem" on or near the photograph?

The King County Bar Association, in its Fair Campaign Practices Guidelines, has a clear prohibition against pro tem judges and administrative law judges wearing robes in campaign literature and has enforced that rule.


CJC 4.1(A)(10) provides that judges and judicial candidates shall not knowingly or with reckless disregard make any false or misleading statement. Comment [7] explains that judicial candidates must be scrupulously fair and accurate in all statements made by them and their campaign committees. It goes on to provide that CJC 4.1(A)(10) obligates candidates and their committees to refrain from making statements that are false or misleading, or that omit facts necessary to make the communications considered as a whole not materially misleading. "Pro tempore judge" is defined in the Terminology of the Code of Judicial Conduct as a person who serves only once or at most sporadically under a separate appointment for a case or docket in fewer than twelve cases or twelve dockets annually, counted cumulatively without regard to each jurisdiction in which the person serves as a judge.

Because a photograph for a person in a judicial robe is misleading when the person serves solely as a pro tem judge, a judicial candidate who is a judge pro tem may not be pictured in any campaign materials or communications in a robe.

See Opinion 88-03 and In Re McGlothen CJC No. 82-155 F-4 (1983).

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