Tag Archives: Bill Houser

Washington supreme court: Public defense has its limits

Public defenders can only handle 150 felony cases a year under a new rule issued today by the Washington State Supreme Court. Such defense attorneys of those who cannot afford counsel will only be able to take on 300 misdemeanors per year as well, the court decided on an overall 6-3 vote.

The impetus for establishing the first-ever limits is to ensure criminal defendants receive an attentive lawyer not overburdened by other cases. That said, could the decision actually cause a spike in costs to the county and state governments?

Bill Houser says no, at least as far as Kitsap County is concerned.

Houser said Kitsap County’s Office of Public Defense has abided by a standard similar to the one just mandated by the court since the office’s inception. Attorneys have always been held to 150 felonies or less, he said, and if it’s a murder or “three strikes” case, their caseload must decrease even further.

Houser did say that some attorneys handling simple misdemeanors in the county do eclipse 300 at times.

Bear in mind, private attorneys can keep the caseloads they please, as their paychecks come from the clients they serve.

The standards will take effect in September 2013.

Court races shape up

Candidate filing week has passed. And that means we now know for sure who aspires to wear a robe on the benches of Washington’s courts.

Locally, there are candidates from the Kitsap peninsula running for judge on not only the county’s superior court bench, but also for the court of appeals and the Washington State Supreme Court. Here’s a brief guide to all of our judicial candidates:

Port Orchard lawyer Bruce Danielson, who ran a close race for county prosecutor last year and has also run for judge in Kitsap, made a surprise entrance into a race for state supreme court justice against Steven Gonzalez of Seattle, on the last day of election filing.

Gonzalez was appointed to the eighth seat aboard the nine-seat state supreme court by Gov. Chris Gregoire in November.

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2012/jan/09/gonzalez-joins-washington-state-supreme-court/

Sheryl Gordon McCloud, who lives on Bainbridge Island and is a longtime appellate lawyer, announced far prior to filing week her intent to seek seat number nine on the state supreme court, which is being vacated by retiring justice Tom Chambers.

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2012/mar/14/bainbridge-island-woman-to-run-for-state-supreme/

She has three opponents: Bruce Hilyer, a King County Superior Court judge, John W. Ladenburg Sr., former Pierce County executive and Richard Sanders, former state supreme court judge.

The most crowded race involving Kitsap County candidates comes in the local division of the court of appeals — the court sandwiched between the lower superior court and the higher state supreme court.

Longtime Court of Appeals Judge David Armstrong is retiring this year, creating the vacancy. Six candidates, two of which are from Kitsap, are vying to take his place.

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2012/jan/07/longtime-kitsap-lawyer-retires-as-appeals-court/

Pamela “Pam” Loginsky, of Port Orchard, is a former Kitsap County deputy prosecutor who works for the state’s prosecutor’s association.

Thomas “Tom” Weaver, of Bremerton, is a private attorney who runs a law firm handling mostly criminal defense.

The four other candidates appear to call Thurston County home, according to the Olympian newspaper. They include, Thomas Bjorgen, who recently worked as a land use hearings examiner; Michael Lynch, head of the state attorney general’s office’s tort claims division; Jim Foley, an Olympia lawyer who has run for state supreme court before; and retired Democratic state representative Brendan Williams, also of Olympia.

Of the eight judges on Kitsap County Superior Court, seven won’t face an opponent this fall, including Kevin Hull (former Kitsap deputy prosecutor) and Steve Dixon (longtime Port Orchard attorney), both of whom were recently appointed to the seats by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The one race that is contested — the seat that Judge M. Karlynn Haberly is retiring from — has bloated to four candidates:

Jennifer Forbes, who commutes to Tacoma, where she is a partner at the law firm McGavick Graves;

Bill Houser, defense attorney currently working in the Kitsap County Office of Public Defense.

Karen Klein, a Bainbridge attorney and chief executive officer and general counsel of Silver Planet, Inc., a senior health care concierge service.

Rob MacDermid, a Navy veteran and general practice lawyer.

The Kitsap Sun will be keeping close tabs on these races in the months ahead. Stay tuned.

Long list of lawyers lining up for Kitsap County Superior Court seats


Jan. 31 is an important day for some ambitious attorneys in Kitsap County.
It is the deadline by which superior court applications are due to the office of Gov. Christine Gregoire, who will use them to appoint Kitsap County’s two newest judges.

A gaggle (Or perhaps a herd? Or flock?) of lawyers have each informed the Kitsap Crime and Justice blog they intend to fill out a lengthy application form and ask for the chance to take the bench. Here’s who have confirmed they’re going for it:

Steve Dixon, a Port Orchard-based general practice lawyer. Dixon had applied previously for appointment to the seat that ultimately went to Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Sally Olsen in 2004.

Jennifer Forbes, attorney at McGavick Graves PS in Tacoma, handling “representation of governmental entities and private clients in land use cases, civil litigation, and criminal defense,” according to the firm’s web site. She’s applied for judge before, most recently in 2006.

Bill Houser, criminal defense attorney currently working in the Kitsap County Office of Public Defense.

Kevin Hull, chief senior deputy prosecutor in charge of the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Assault Unit.

Karen Klein, Bainbridge-based attorney and chief executive officer and general counsel of Silver Planet, Inc., a senior health care concierge service. Klein, formerly a general practitioner, also put in for the seat Olsen was appointed to in 2004.

Craig Lindsay, a partner in Silverdale-based Lindsay Olsen PLLC is a former Kitsap County deputy prosecutor. Now works primarily as a family law attorney.

Marilyn Paja, Kitsap County District Court judge since 1999 and former Gig Harbor municipal court judge and Port Orchard general practice lawyer.

Diane Russell, a Silverdale-based general practice lawyer and former Kitsap County deputy prosecutor.

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.

Two other general practice attorneys, Tracy Flood and Bruce Danielson (who has run for judge and for county prosecutor), both of Port Orchard, are still weighing whether to submit an application.

I did also confirm with several other lawyers that they’re not seeking the seat, including Bremerton general practice attorney Ed Wolfe and Port Orchard defense and family attorney Melissa Hemstreet. I even asked Brian Moran, the state’s chief deputy attorney general under Rob McKenna, if he’d pondered a run. His answer: no. “I thoroughly enjoy my current job and I am very, very fortunate to be able to serve in this capacity with Attorney General McKenna.”

Two seats on the bench opened in December after Kitsap County Superior Court Judges Russell Hartman and Theodore Spearman announced their respective retirements. Hartman plans to enter into “other forms of public service” and Spearman, sadly, passed away after fighting a brain aneurysm.

The governor’s office has consolidated the process to pick the two judges into one.

“Applicants to fill the position created by the retirement of Judge Russell W. Hartman will also be considered for (Judge Spearman’s) judicial vacancy, with no separate application or other communication necessary,” according to a Jan. 23 letter from Narda Pierce, Gregoire’s general counsel. The governor is aiming to make the appointments as soon as possible.

The Kitsap County Bar Association is also going to vet candidates and conduct a “judicial preference poll.” We’re hoping to get results of the poll and will post them to the blog.

Bear in mind two other things:

  • This is different than the race currently cementing for Washington Court of Appeals Judge David Armstrong’s seat.
  • Any candidate this year that is appointed to superior court by Gregoire must be elected by the people this fall (though it’s no secret incumbents in judicial races are hard to beat).

Oh, and one more thing: if I am missing someone, please don’t be shy about it. Drop me a line at jfarley@kitsapsun.com and I will amend the list.

LIVE BLOG: Wife’s Testimony at PO Murder Trial

Background on the case:

Henry Paul Musgrove III, 31, will face second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of his wife’s daughter, 23-month-old Izabell Davis-Hull.

His wife, Amber Lyn Musgrove, has accepted an offer of immunity from prosecutors, in exchange for her testimony in the case, said Cami Lewis, one of two Kitsap County deputy prosecutors handling the case.

A two-year investigation by Port Orchard Police detectives resulted in the arrest of both Henry and Amber Musgrove. Both were initially charged with crimes related to the toddler’s death, but Amber Musgrove’s charges will be dropped if she completes her agreement to testify, Lewis said.

This morning is Amber Musgrove’s testimony.

LIVE BLOG: Opening Arguments in Port Orchard Murder Trial

Opening arguments in the trial of a former Port Orchard man accused of killing a 23-month-old toddler are slated for this afternoon.

Henry Paul Musgrove III, 31, faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of his wife’s daughter, Izabell Davis-Hull.

Musgrove’s wife, Amber Lyn Musgrove, has accepted an offer of immunity from prosecutors, in exchange for her testimony in the case.

The girl died likely from a blow to the abdomen on February 23, 2008. After a lengthy Port Orchard police investigation, county prosecutors charged both the 31-year-old and his wife with her death. But Amber Musgrove’s charges will be dropped if she completes her agreement to testify, according to prosecutors.

The trial is expected to last between two and three weeks; jury selection has already taken a week.

The live blog is slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. in Kitsap County Superior Court.