Category Archives: Judicial Elections

Judicial candidate regrets ‘letting my frustration get the best of me’ in comment section

Jennifer Forbes, candidate for Kitsap County Superior Court Judge, posted a comment on the Kitsap Sun’s Web site this afternoon regretting her decision to comment on stories without identifying herself. 

She’d made several comments using the handle “1989payforward” where she accuses her opponent, Karen Klein, mainly of misrepresenting her hours working as a pro-tem judge. (That clash was well documented in a story by the North Kitsap Herald’s Richard Walker.)

“My blogs were all truthful, except that I did not re-identify myself as the blogger, which in retrospect, I should have,” Forbes said in her most recent comment, which she also emailed to me.

Another commenter had pointed out earlier that Forbes, the Kitsap County Bar Association’s president,  had signed her name to the 1989payforward handle a few years back on an obituary.

Klein, the woman Forbes is running against, said she’d heard about the comments and took a look at them. She hadn’t seen them before. “I don’t like to read blog posts,” she said.

She wasn’t sure if they were Forbes or not, but felt that if true, “there are ethical issues.” She said she was trying to stay focused on her own campaign.

Here is Forbes’ most recent comment:

“Last week there was a column in the Sun by Rob Woutat regarding Karen Klein. I had nothing to do with that article. I did not ask for it, nor instigate it. However, I did post comments in a blog under the name “1989payforward,” a log-in blog name I had previously identified as me. (May 2011)

These blogs took issue with falsehoods continually repeated by Ms. Klein about her over-exaggerated hours as a judge pro-tem. These allegations were investigated and reported in the North Kitsap Herald, verifying that Ms. Klein had significantly less experience she was making the basis of her qualifications for judge.

My blogs were all truthful, except that I did not re-identify myself as the blogger, which in retrospect, I should have.

These comments followed after weeks of Ms. Klein handing out a flyer to voters with a material misstatement about her qualification that she had earlier admitted were not true. After she handed it out again this last week in a meeting in front of me, my frustration boiled over.

I regret letting my frustration get the best of me.

It has been a long campaign, and I have been subjected to slurs and falsehoods in this and other settings. But when it comes to watching falsehoods repeated week after week, with little press to check up on the true facts, I truly was just trying to stand up for myself and my record.”


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

UPDATE: Campaign Signs and a Clerk’s Time: New Allegations Fly in Bremerton Judge Race

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The two candidates for Bremerton Municipal Court judge are facing new challenges less than a week before the votes are counted.

At some point during this month, signs for attorney Ed Wolfe, who is challenging incumbent judge James Docter, began appearing with small placards that say “RATED Highly Qualified” (see photo that was emailed to me by a Docter supporter).

In a letter to the editor in our paper today, Kevin “Andy” Anderson (a lawyer who works as a county prosecutor) contends that the Kitsap County Bar Association poll results fly in the face of that placard. I’ll let you decide: the results, as published to, are thus:

Of 63 attorneys, Ed Wolfe was rated:

“Highly Qualified” by 15 lawyers;

“Qualified” by 17 lawyers;

“Not Qualified” by 26 lawyers;

And five abstained.

UPDATE: I spoke with Wolfe today (Monday) about the signs. He said he was “disappointed,” by my blog post, and that with the bar association poll results, “I feel comfortable saying I’m highly qualified based on that representation.”

He said that the poll was still taken by only 63 lawyers, even though there are hundreds of attorneys in the county.

Meanwhile, Port Orchard resident Stephen P. Miller has filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) against incumbent James Docter. His allegation: that Docter stated, during a Bremerton Kiwanis candidate forum Oct. 8, he, nor his clerks, had found evidence that Wolfe had handled a criminal trial in Bremerton Municipal Court. Miller believes that a “reasonable person” would conclude Docter was using city paid clerks to help with his campaign.

I called Docter about the allegation, and he said he felt it was “completely baseless.” He said he’d asked a clerk at lunch one day if she could recall anytime Wolfe had in fact handled a criminal trial in order to double check his own memory.

I also checked with Theresa Ewing, Bremerton Municipal Court administrator. Ewing said she must remain neutral in elections: “We serve whoever wears the robe.”

She explained she was in the court’s break room at lunch one day when Docter and a clerk discussed if Wolfe had handled any such trials. But she was adamant that such discussions did not happen while on the city’s paid time.

The complaint won’t be followed up by the PDC until after election day.

Judge Race: And Then There Were Three


Greg Wall’s campaign slogan for superior court judge is succinct: “Trial Experience Counts!

With the addition of Kingston attorney Jeanette Dalton, three lawyers have now announced their intentions to take Leonard Costello’s seat on Kitsap County’s superior court bench. Odds are that Dalton and fellow candidate Bruce Danielson would also agree with Wall’s (pictured) slogan — between the three, there are seven decades of judicial experience.

There are sizable differences between the candidates concerning their areas of experience, however.

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Danielson Sets Sights on Costello’s Superior Court Seat


Looks like we’ll have at least one contested election in this fall’s Kitsap County Superior Court judge contests.

I received an email today that Bruce Danielson will be going for position #1 which Judge Leonard Costello will vacate. Danielson has told us already his aspirations to run, but hadn’t decided which seat he was going for (until now).

It appears he’ll face Greg J. Wall, a longtime Port Orchard lawyer who has already said he’ll be running for the seat vacated by Costello.

That leaves uncontested races for the seven other incumbents (for now): Anna M. Laurie, M. Karlynn Haberly, Leila Mills, Russell W. Hartman, Theodore Spearman, Jay B. Roof and Sally F. Olsen. But filing week isn’t until June, so we’ll see what happens.

From the email, here’s what Danielson’s platform looks like, according to the email from Kris Danielson, his wife:

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