State of Washington                               51st Legislature                              1989 Regular Session


By Senate Committee on Law & Justice (originally sponsored by Senators Pullen, Talmadge, McCaslin, Thorsness, Rasmussen and Benitz)



Read first time 1/26/89.




          THAT, At the next general election to be held in this state there shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the state for their approval and ratification, or rejection, an amendment to Article IV, section 31 of the Constitution of the state of Washington to read as follows:

Article IV, section 31.          In order for citizens to participate fully in the judicial process, the legislature, by law, shall provide for a commission on judicial conduct and for retirement or disciplinary action against a judge or justice as deemed appropriate.  The commission shall consist of judges, persons admitted to the practice of law in this state and persons who are not attorneys, as provided by the legislature.  The commission shall conduct hearings regarding complaints against a judge or justice and may take disciplinary actions on its own or make disciplinary or retirement recommendations to the supreme court as provided by law.  The legislature shall provide for rules of procedure and open meetings for the commission.

          ((There shall be a commission on judicial conduct consisting of a judge selected by and from the court of appeals judges, a judge selected by and from the superior court judges, a judge selected by and from the district court judges, two persons admitted to the practice of law in this state selected by the state bar association, and four persons who are not attorneys appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate.

          The supreme court may censure, suspend, or remove a judge or justice for violating a rule of judicial conduct and may retire a judge or justice for disability which is permanent or is likely to become permanent and which seriously interferes with the performance of judicial duties.

          The office of a judge or justice retired or removed by the supreme court becomes vacant, and that person is ineligible for judicial office until eligibility is reinstated by the supreme court.  The salary of a removed judge or justice shall cease.  The supreme court shall specify the effect upon salary when disciplinary action other than removal is taken.  The supreme court may not discipline or retire a judge or justice until the commission on judicial conduct recommends after notice and hearing that action be taken and the supreme court conducts a hearing, after notice, to review commission proceedings and findings against a judge or justice.

          Whenever the commission receives a complaint against a judge or justice, it shall first conduct proceedings for the purpose of determining whether sufficient reason exists for conducting a hearing or hearings to deal with the accusations.  These initial proceedings shall be confidential, unless confidentiality is waived by the judge or justice, but all subsequent hearings conducted by the commission shall be open to members of the public.

          Whenever the commission adopts a recommendation that a judge or justice be removed, the judge or justice shall be suspended immediately, with salary, from his or her judicial position until a final determination is made by the supreme court.

          The legislature shall provide for commissioners' terms of office and compensation.  The commission shall establish rules of procedure for commission proceedings including due process and confidentiality of proceedings.))


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the secretary of state shall cause notice of the foregoing constitutional amendment to be published at least four times during the four weeks next preceding the election in every legal newspaper in the state.