State agency disciplines sitting judge in Lewis County
March 11, 2018
(OLYMPIA, WA.) -- The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct has disciplined a Lewis County judge for presiding over cases involving people she'd previously represented as a lawyer.
On Friday March 9 the commission approved what is called a stipulated order of admonishment against Lewis County Superior Court Judge Joely A. O’Rourke.
The order says O’Rourke violated parts of the Code of Judicial Conduct when she presided over a case in which she had previously served as the defendant’s attorney and also made comments attesting to the defendant’s character that may have "reasonably given the impression" that she was not impartial in the matter, according to a statement issued by the commission..
The Code of Judicial Conduct requires a judge to disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge had previously served as a lawyer. The commission noted that O’Rourke asked for advice from more senior judges and believed such a perceived conflict of interest could be waived.
In a statement the commission wrote that, "From an agreed statement of facts, Lewis County Superior Court Judge Joely A. O'Rourke stipulated that she violated Canon 1 (Rules 1.1 and 1.2) and Canon 2 (Rules 2.2 and 2.11(A)(6)(a) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Judge O'Rourke violated the Code by presiding over a case in which she had previously served as the defendant's attorney and making comments attesting to the defendant's character which may have reasonably given the impression that she was not impartial in the matter. The Commission admonished Judge O'Rourke and ordered her to promptly read the Code."
An admonishment is the least severe disciplinary action that is issued by the commission to judges.