The Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct admonished Jenifer G. Howson, a judge on the Skagit County District Court, on Friday, June 24, 2022. The case is styled as ‘In Re the Matter of The Honorable Jenifer G. Howson,’ with case number #0466-F-201.

The judge was charged with violating Canon 1 (Rules 1.1 and 1.2) and Canon 2 (Rule 2.5) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires:

Judges to respect and comply with the law and act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

A judge shall perform judicial and administrative duties competently and diligently.

The judicial canons can be found here.

The order reads:

“B. On three occasions, Respondent delayed issuing decisions after hearing small claims trials.
1. In Case No. Y19-00152, Respondent heard the trial on March 2, 2020, and did not issue her decision until February 8, 2022;
2. In Case No. Y20-00046, Respondent heard the trial on November 20, 2020, and did not issue her decision until March 15, 2021;
3. In Case No. Y20-00051, Respondent heard the trial on January 4, 2021, and did not issue her decision until February 14, 2022.

C. The Commission conducted a confidential preliminary investigation after receiving acomplaint regarding one of the three instances of delay identified above, and initiated disciplinary proceedings by serving Respondent with a Statement of Allegations on March 7, 2022. The Statement of Allegations alleged Respondent failed to issue decisions in the three cases identified above in a timely manner, and thus failed to dispose promptly of the business of the court in violation of Canon 1 (Rules 1.1 and 1.2) and Canon 2 (Rule 2.5) of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

D. Respondent answered the Statement of Allegations by letter dated March 17, 2022. In her answer, Respondent accepted responsibility for the delayed decisions and explained some factors which contributed to the delay, including the difficulty of maintaining court operations during the pandemic, covering for other judicial officers with health issues, and being displaced from chambers with files stored elsewhere while the courthouse underwent repairs. Respondent supplemented her answer on April 15, 2022, by providing additional details about the court disruptions.”

The Judge’s Courtroom is at 600 S 3rd St in Mount Vernon, and can be reached at 360-416-1250

A copy of the original filing can be found here.