Tag Archives: Theodore Spearman

County’s lawyers favor attorneys Dixon, Hull and Wall for Kitsap County Superior Court seats

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:

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

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

Greg WallPort 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.”

Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Russell Hartman is stepping down at the end of the this month and Judge Theodore Spearman died in January, creating the openings.

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.

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.