December 9, 2021
This responds to your inquiry (21-160) asking if it is ethically permissible for you to write a letter supporting a nonjudicial court employee’s request for a promotion. You have stated that you have personal knowledge of the court employee’s qualifications, based on your professional interactions both before and after you assumed the bench.
We have previously advised that a judge may write a letter of reference for a court employee (Opinions 15-173; 90-46). However, the judge should not recommend that the non-judicial court employee be promoted. Rather, the judge should limit their comments to their personal knowledge of the applicant’s performance to the judge’s observations of the applicant’s qualities and abilities that are relevant to the position the employee seeks; or to the judge’s opinion of a person’s character based upon the employee’s work history if the judge has worked with the person or otherwise has reliable personal knowledge of the applicant’s experience (Opinion 10-07).
Therefore, subject to the limitations set forth above, you may write a letter of reference in support of a nonjudicial court employee’s request for a promotion.
Enclosed for your convenience are Opinions 15-173; 10-07; 90-46 which address this issue.
Very truly yours,
Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice
Acting Supreme Court Justice