Legal Ethics

Bad Day for WA Judge: 2 Ethics Issues

When Judge Mark Chow made a quick—and, he admits, lewd—remark one day in January as he was presiding in King County District Court, he immediately realized he’d made a mistake.

Although the 53-year-old jurist was responding to a man’s suggestion that he perform a sexual act, Chow’s response was inappropriate and he immediately reported himself to Washington state’s judicial ethics authorities, according to his attorney, Anne Bremner. Now he is facing a potential judicial discipline case over the incident, writes the Seattle Times.

The Times did not specifically describe Chow’s alleged remark, but the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did. Writes the newspaper: “According to charges filed Tuesday by the Commission on Judicial Conduct, Chow replied, ‘I would if you pulled it out, but you can’t find it.’ “

But Chow, whose ethnic heritage is Chinese and whose wife’s family background is Japanese, doesn’t see what the problem was concerning another remark he made the same day for which he is also now being investigated, the Times writes. At that point in the day, he reportedly asked a party what “flavor” she was, inquiring about her ethnicity.

“It’s not inappropriate when one person of color is talking to another person of color and no one who is addressed takes offense,” Bremner says. “This is a commission on judicial conduct, not the commission on political correctness.”

Chow, a 16-year veteran of the bench, is charged by the Commission on Judicial Conduct, as the Times puts it, with “failing to maintain courtroom decorum; making comments that were undignified, discourteous and disrespectful; and using language that appeared to manifest bias and diminish confidence in the dignity and impartiality of judicial office.”

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