Why did you start in your role with King County?
I was elected as a Judge in 2004. I ran because I was interested in the job through my prior work as a law clerk. I had tried many cases in civil and criminal arenas and I wanted to stay in the courtroom.
What do you do in your role?
My current role is as Presiding Judge, which means I work on the case flow (distribution) of the work of the Court, setting policies and overseeing the budget process. As a trial Judge (yes, I still hear cases and trials), I decide disputes. The criminal bar probably thinks of me as a criminal judge, since I was Chief Criminal Judge, but most of my work in the last five years has been in civil disputes (money, property) and family law cases.
Why did you choose this field as your career?
As a kid, I was interested in crime, watched too much Perry Mason and read too much Sherlock Holmes. After I graduated with a History degree from the UW and joined the Peace Corps, my father became mildly terrified that I would never get a job and so he persuaded me to go to law school. I became interested in becoming a judge after working for a great one, Fed. District Ct. Judge Robert Bryan, in Tacoma.
What is the biggest challenge of your job?
Easily the biggest challenge of the job right now is getting all of our cases to trial-remember, my main responsibility as Presiding Judge is making sure cases and matters get heard. We are simply not able to have all of our civil cases out to trial and in my view, that is unconscionable. We simply don’t always have the capacity and some are being denied their day in court.
Probably the second biggest challenge in the education of our new judges, but frankly, I give all credit for that to Judge Dean Lum and Beth Taylor, and our education committee.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love the trial process. I never get tired of it, even if it takes 2-4 cups of coffee to remain alert in the afternoon.
I also really enjoy the people with whom I work. We have excellent judicial officials and employees. I am very fortunate in where I work and what I do.