The results are in; The county’s lawyers have spoken.
(At least, those who wanted to make their feelings known about who should be the next two attorneys to grace the Kitsap County Superior Court bench.)
One hundred and twelve lawyers — 50 percent of the county bar’s dues paying members — cast ballots in the Kitsap County Bar Association’s perennial preference poll, which included 11 lawyers who are vying for Gov. Chris Gregoire’s nod to join our local superior court bench. Ballots are cast anonymously.
The front runners from the poll were:
Kevin Hull, senior deputy prosecutor in charge of the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Assault Unit; and
Greg Wall, Port Orchard-based general practice lawyer. Wall had previously run unsuccessfully for Kitsap County Superior Court judge in 2008. He was elected in November to the South Kitsap School Board.
Full results of the poll can be found at the bar association’s web site. As you’ll see, attorneys ranked their first,second and third choices for the seats and also answered if they felt each attorney was “highly qualified,” just “qualified,” or “not qualified.”
Gregoire will make the appointments but all eight superior court seats are up for election in November (though incumbents in judicial elections generally have an advantage).
So, if the governor picks ’em, why does this poll even matter?
For one, they send the results to the governor’s office for review, according to prominent bar association attorney Paul Fjelstad. (The Kitsap Chapter of Washington Women Lawyers does as well, he points out.)
The bar poll has a mixed record as a predictor of future judges but it has gotten it right quite a few times, including:
* Stephen Holman’s appointment (by the county commissioners) to the Kitsap County District Court bench in 2006.
*James Docter’s election wins for Bremerton Municipal Court in 1997 and 2009.
It also has its shortcomings: In 2008, a three-way race for retiring Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Leonard Costello’s seat saw Wall get the most votes among attorneys — yet he lost in the primary, and Kingston attorney Jeanette Dalton was eventually elected.
The governor is expected to make her replacement picks in the coming weeks.