Thursday, February 10, 2022
The Washington State Supreme Court has dismissed judicial misconduct charges
The Commission on Judicial Conduct (Commission) ruled that Judge David S. Keenan, a King County Superior Court judge, violated the Code of Judicial Conduct (CJC or Code) when he approved a bus advertisement for North Seattle College. The ad pictured him and stated, in part, “A Superior Court Judge, David Keenan got into law in part to advocate for marginalized communities.” North Seattle College is a nonprofit community college where Judge Keenan received both his high school and his associate’s degrees. The ad ran for three weeks as part of North Seattle College’s fall enrollment campaign.
Judge Keenan’s conduct did not violate Rules 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 of the Code. He did not violate his duty to be, and to appear, impartial, and he did not abuse the prestige of his office. We therefore reverse the Commission’s decision and dismiss the charges.
Judge Keenan did not violate the Code when he approved a bus ad to support his nonprofit alma mater, North Seattle College. The language that he “got into law in part to advocate for marginalized communities” did not violate his duty to be, and to appear, impartial; thus, he did not violate Rule 1.2. The ad did not violate Rule 1.3 because the rules, read as a whole, permit judges to promote nonprofit educational institutions that they credit for their success, in an effort to attract the most qualified people to the legal profession. As a result, Judge Keenan did not violate Rule 1.1, either.