WSR 08-21-021

RULES OF COURT

STATE SUPREME COURT


[ October 3, 2008 ]

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF THE AMENDMENTS TO GR 29(K) - PRESIDING JUDGE IN SUPERIOR COURT OR COURT DISTRICT AND LIMITED JURISDICTION COURT DISTRICT - JUDICIAL SERVICES CONTRACT )

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ORDER

NO. 25700-A-902


The District and Municipal Court Judges' Association having recommended the adoption of the proposed amendments to GR 29(k) - Presiding Judge in Superior Court or Court District and Limited Jurisdiction Court District - Judicial Services Contract, and the Court having approved the proposed amendments for publication;

Now, therefore, it is hereby

ORDERED:

(a) That pursuant to the provisions of GR 9(g), the proposed amendment as attached hereto is to be published for comment in the Washington Reports, Washington Register, and on the Washington State Bar Association and Office of the Administrator for the Courts' websites expeditiously.

(b) The purpose statement as required by GR 9(e), is published solely for the information of the Bench, Bar and other interested parties.

(c) Comments are to be submitted to the Clerk of the Supreme Court by either U.S. Mail or Internet E-Mail by no later than 60 days from the published date. Comments may be sent to the following addresses: P.O. Box 40929, Olympia, Washington 98504-0929, or Camilla.Faulk@courts.wa.gov. Comments submitted by e-mail message must be limited to 1500 words.

DATED at Olympia, Washington this 3rd day of October, 2008.
For the Court
Gerry L. Alexander
CHIEF JUSTICE


GR 9 COVER SHEET

Suggested Amendment

GENERAL RULES (GR)

Rule Amendment 29(k) Judicial Services Contracts



Purpose: This rule is intended to address conflicts between contracts for judicial services, the requirements of General Rule 29, and judicial independence. Personal services contracts are frequently offered to part-time municipal court judges as a basis for their employment. These contracts often include provisions that define and limit the power and authority of the judge in ways that conflict with General Rule 29, Chapter 3.50 and Chapter 44.49.160 RCW. They often characterize the employment of the judicial officer as an independent contractor and divest the presiding judge of court management authority.

The Ethics Advisory Committee's Ethics Opinion 99-9, addressing the propriety of judges entering into judicial services contracts, cautioned about contract provisions that "create an impropriety or appearance of impropriety concerning a judge's activities." New judges may be unknowingly lured into ethical jeopardy by the content and form of these personal services contracts.

In addition, there has been recent discussion within the Administrative Office of the Courts and some courts concerning the categorization of pro tem judges as 'employees' as opposed to 'independent contractors' for purposes of taxes and benefits. The IRS and Social Security Administration have taken the position that pro tem judges and pro tem commissioners are considered employees for federal tax purposes. If a pro tem is classified as an "employee," certainly the judge must be also. Not all municipal governments take this position.


General Rule 29

PRESIDING JUDGE IN SUPERIOR COURT DISTRICT AND

LIMITED JURISDICTION COURT DISTRICT



(a) - (j) [Unchanged.]

(k) Judicial Services Employment Contracts. A part-time judicial officer may contract with a municipal or county authority for salary and benefits to serve as a judicial officer. The personal service employment contract shall not contain provisions which conflict with this rule, the Code of Judicial Conduct or statutory judicial authority, or which would create an impropriety or the appearance of impropriety concerning the judge's activities. The employment contract should acknowledge the court is a part of an independent branch of government and that the judicial officer or court employees are bound to act in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct and this Washington State Court rules.

Commentary

The Board for Judicial Administration should establish a model judicial services contract.

Reviser's note: The brackets and enclosed material in the text of the above section occurred in the copy filed by the agency and appear in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office