Monthly Archives: November 2016

Remembering attorney Darrell Uptegraft, in the words of his friends


Darrell Uptegraft, an attorney known among the Kitsap County legal community for his upbeat personality and generosity of spirit, died last month at the age of 61, his life cut short after a three-year battle with ALS.

Darrell’s legacy runs deep in Kitsap, and perhaps the best way to honor him is through the words of his friends.

Collected here are the submissions I received after asking for favorite Darrell memories, but no doubt, this is a very small sampling of memories of a person who will live on in the hearts of his loved ones.


Darrell was the most chronically optimistic person I have ever known. Throughout his illness – and certainly the years before – Darrell always had a smile, twinkle in his eye and quip for those clients and potential friends he encountered.

He never went into anything halfway. When Darrell took up golf, for example, he lowered his handicap from about 30 to the mid-teens in a year. Always striving to do his best at those activities and chores he took on.

The Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors met in Bremerton some months ago and, as is their custom, gave a “Local Hero” award. Darrell was the recipient. After being presented the award, and sharing some funny tales about his life as a lawyer, Darrell said:

“The real heroes here are my friends who have helped me throughout this process. It is said someone can share their time, their toil or their treasure. I have been the lucky recipient of all three from my great friends.”

The governor next to me was sobbing. Like so many of us, he was touched by the width and depth of Darrell’s optimism, character, appreciation and love.  And, yes, he did have an extraordinary group of friends. He will be missed by many, for a long time.

Jeff Tolman
Tolman Clucas, PLLC

During the mid to late 1980s, I lived with my family near the intersection of 17th Street and Ohio Avenue, across from Memorial Field. Darrell lived down the block on 17th near High Street.

He owned a 1950s model MGTD sports car which was his pride and joy.  He drove by all the time looking extremely happy in the moment.  I would wave and remind him to, “Take good care of my (actually his) car.”

He was a happy guy and made all of us feel better.

Mike Liebert
Michael Liebert, PLLC

I’ll always remember Darrell because he helped me get everything I could ever want. In law school, I lived in Seattle and was applying to a bunch of jobs in King County. On a lark, I applied at McCluskey, Sells, Ryan, Uptegraft and Decker as well. I interviewed with Darrell.

To this point, interviewing was a staid, uncomfortable and stressful process. Interviewing with Darrell was the opposite. He was animated, engaging and interesting. He obviously loved what he did, loved where he worked and loved the people he worked with. I got offered a few jobs in King County. But I took the job that Darrell offered me. I took it because I wanted to love what I do, love where I work and love who I work with.

Darrell was my first mentor. He taught me so much about the practice of law. He had an incredibly inventive legal mind I envied. But most of all he showed me that no matter how stressful practicing law could be, it could be done with a smile, a laugh and kindness.

Thanks to Darrell, for the last 20 years I have loved what I do, loved where I work, and loved the people I work with.

David P. Horton
Templeton Horton Weibel, PLLC

Darrell was one of the most positive people I have ever known. All the time, even when faced with his final challenge. He always had a smile; it was always a joy to be with him; he was always generous. I wish everyone could be more like him. I wish I could be more like him.

Paul Fjelstad

Bainbridge’s Wiggins keeps lead in state Supreme Court race


Despite a full slate challenging the state Supreme Court justices up for election — and a whole lot of Richie Rich-tier money being thrown at TV stations for commercials — all incumbents are retaining their seats, according to preliminary results.

That includes Justice Charlie Wiggins, of Bainbridge Island, who was hit with a last-minute advertising push to the tune of about $1 million on behalf of his opponent, Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Dave Larson.

The ads were paid for by two business PACs using the good cop vs. bad cop routine: one bought ads praising Larson, one bought ads slamming Wiggins for his vote in a criminal law case.

However, it wasn’t likely the criminal law case that drew the ire of Washington state’s wealthiest. The slate of challengers was critical of the court’s rulings on education funding and striking down charter schools. Business leaders are also not too enthused about the court’s ruling on a $15 minimum wage case.

This spending put Wiggins in the hot seat, and made him appear to be the most vulnerable of the three justices up for consideration in the general election.

You might also think Wiggins was hobbled because the Seattle Times endorsed Larson, but do voters rely on newspaper ed boards to tell them who to vote for? What is this, the 1890s?

Apparently, it didn’t matter and all that gazillionaire money was for not, as the latest results from the state Secretary of State show Wiggins comfortably leading about 58 percent to 42 percent. (CORRECTION: I’m sure that money made the people at the TV stations very happy).

An interesting comparison here — pointed out by Wiggins — is the race between Justice Mary Yu and Gonzaga Law professor David DeWolf, which Bill Gates and Paul Allen and that uberwealthy guy from Camas did not spend their money on, resulted in virtually the same split: 58 percent to 42 percent.

(In both races, the incumbent campaigns outspent their challengers.)

The issue underlying this story of Big Money in Politics is the wisdom of electing judges. Federal judges are appointed, and some believe this is a better way, as making judges stand for election turns them into politicians, as everybody knows there is nothing political about the federal courts.

However, I found it interesting when explaining its thinking, former state Sen. Rodney Tom, a political shapeshifter from the ritzy East King County enclave of Medina who represented one of the PACs, said the criminal case in the critical ad wasn’t necessarily the issue that brought together some of the richest business bros in the state … It was, however, an issue that could be easily explained in a fleeting TV ad full of shadows and foreboding music and a sex offender.

A group of notable criminal law experts, including former Kitsap Prosecutor Russ Hauge, responded that the ad explained nothing and requested it be taken down.

Wiggins told me yesterday he was thrilled to see the numbers turn his way, though he was sweating when he learned the amount of money being spent on behalf of his opponent.

“I was quite worried,” Wiggins said. “People kept telling me to not worry, but it’s a little hard to not worry about something like that.”

Wiggins also wondered if the plan backfired: the $1 million campaign made news, and was well-reported by the Seattle Times and also reported, maybe not as well, by me.

Larson did not respond Thursday to a phone message, and an email, left with his campaign.