Kitsap Lawyers’ Debate Wouldn’t be Complete without Some Caselaw

A debate over the results of the Kitsap County Bar Association’s Judicial Preference Poll ignited this month, after Silverdale attorney Ron Templeton called the poll a “popularity contest.” (Read the full story here.)

Such a debate just wouldn’t be “lawyerly” if it didn’t involve some case law.

Bremerton attorney Stan Glisson, in responding to Templeton’s accusation that Bremerton Municipal Court was a venue for “dog bites and traffic infractions,” invoked the legendary case Marbury v. Madison. The case opinion by John Marshall in 1803 was the first time the US Supreme Court declared something unconstitutional, establishing the idea that the courts could keep in check the executive and legislative branches of government.

The heart of the case was a last minute appointment by President John Adams of a justice of the peace, among many “midnight” appointments Adams made in an effort to fill the judiciary with federalists on the eve of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency.

“In 1803, few people probably cared whether William Marbury won a commission as a local justice of the peace,” Glisson wrote. “But Marbury v. Madison established our current concept of judicial review, without which the separation of powers and our concept of government is effectively meaningless.”

In Templeton’s response, he used the same case to make his point — that challenger Ed Wolfe, who’s facing incumbent Judge James Docter this fall for the municipal court seat, isn’t unqualified to serve as judge. James Madison and William Marbury, the men involved in the case, had little in the way of judicial experience, Templeton wrote.

“Both Marbury and Marshall were well-respected for their intellect,” he wrote. “However, under the ‘experience’ test enumerated by some of our colleagues today, neither Marbury or Marshall would be judged ‘qualified’ to fill the judicial positions to which they were appointed.”

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