On Wednesday, May 31, 2023, the Commission on Judicial Conduct of the State of Washington issued an order instructing that an independent medical records evaluation by a medical expert approved by the presiding officer is required to assess the ability of Honorable Darvin Zimmerman, former judge of the Clark County District Court to participate in a fact-finding hearing.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Darvin Zimmerman,” with case no. 10260-F-193.
The charges cited Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 1, rules 1.1 and 1.2, Canon 2, rules 2.2, 2.3(a), 2.4, and 2.10 which states:
A Judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.
A judge shall comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct.
A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.
A Judge should perform the duties of judicial office impartially, competently, and diligently.
A judge shall uphold and apply the law and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.
A judge shall perform the duties of the judicial office, including administrative duties, without bias or prejudice.
A judge shall not permit family, social, political, financial, or other interests or relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment.
A judge shall not make any public statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any court, or make any nonpublic statement that would reasonably be expected to substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing.
On May 9, 2023, the Commission on Judicial Conduct of the State of Washington granted the motion for stay and protective order filed by the respondent.
A report indicates that Judge Zimmerman is facing an accusation based on an incident that occurred after the conclusion of court proceedings on March 9, 2021. It involved an unintentional live broadcast of a conversation between the judge and another judicial officer via YouTube, which was being utilized by the Clark County District Court to ensure public access during the pandemic. The commission became aware that during this conversation, the judge made racially offensive remarks regarding the fatal shooting of a black man by local law enforcement. Additionally, the judge conveyed the impression of having privileged access to ongoing police investigations due to having a relative in the local law enforcement.
Regarding this matter, on May 9, 2023, the respondent requested a postponement in the disciplinary process citing medical reasons. During the hearing, the respondent’s legal representative informed the presiding officer about the possession of six letters from medical professionals in support of the request. One of these letters was given to Mr. Paul Taylor, the Disciplinary Counsel, with the expectation of maintaining confidentiality. In an email dated May 4, 2023, Mr. Taylor conveyed no objection to the delay or the implementation of a protective order. Furthermore, he attached the letter from the medical provider to his email while communicating with the commission. Consequently, the Commission on Judicial Conduct of the State of Washington approved the motion based on this information.
The Report Order states:
“Pursuant to my authority as Presiding Officer under the CJCRP, CJC Member Policy 4.3, and the Rules Of Civil Procedure, I find there is good cause to warrant a stay of these proceedings. Pursuant to GR 1 5, Judge Zimmerman’s motion to seal the medical record dated April 25, 2023, is granted. The disciplinary hearing set for May 30, 2023, is hereby continued to a date to be determined. A status hearing will take place on May 30, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. to address a stipulated resolution or a process for assessing the viability of a contested hearing. Any stipulated resolution must be emailed to Commission Clerk Aimee Baldoz no later than May 30, 2023, at 8:30 a.m.”
In lieu of this, the Commission on Judicial Conduct of the State of Washington has issued a directive stating that an impartial evaluation of medical records must be conducted by an approved medical expert chosen by the presiding officer. The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the capacity of Honorable Darvin Zimmerman to actively participate in a fact-finding hearing.
The order on status conference states:
“An independent medical records evaluation by a medical expert approved by the Presiding Officer is required to assess the Respondent’s ability to participate in a fact-finding hearing. Ms. Townsend shall provide the names and addresses of all the medical providers who provided the basis for Respondent’s two motions to continue and his current description of his medical condition to Commission Clerk Aimee Baldoz by Friday, June 2, 2023. All of the Respondent’s medical records considered in conjunction with this case shall be filed under seal. The parties may propose an independent physician in the Clark County region to review the medical records and issue a report on the Respondent’s fitness to participate, to be approved by the Presiding Officer. The parties were advised that, in addition, a physical medical examination of Respondent may be ordered, if necessary, to clarify Respondent’s future ability to participate in a contested fact-finding hearing.”
Judge Darvin Zimmerman attended Gonzaga University.
The Judge’s courtroom is located at 1200 Franklin St, Vancouver, WA 98660, and can be reached at 564-397-24. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.