Attorney Vicki Lee Anne Parker’s petition asks that Thurston County Court Commissioner Christine Schaller not be allowed to run for Superior Court judge. The state requires candidates running for elected office to live in the county they wish to serve.
Parker’s petition will be heard in Everett by Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Larry McKeeman. All Thurston County Superior Court judges have recused themselves because they work with Schaller in her current job.
Before Schaller filed, she received notice from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that the county would not oppose her candidacy. The prosecuting attorney’s civil division has cited a 1986 opinion by its office stating that the state constitution does not have residency requirements for Superior Court judges.
Schaller’s attorney, Shawn Newman, has said the constitution trumps state law. He also has noted that Schaller has lived in Olympia for most of her life and has deep roots locally.
Schaller is one of four candidates running for the Position 2 judgeship held by retiring Judge Paula Casey. The others are Victor Minjares, Jim Johnson and Marie Clarke. All three are attorneys in the state Attorney General’s Office.
Last week, Johnson filed a motion to join Parker’s lawsuit challenging Schaller’s candidacy. On his election blog, Johnson explained his reasons for doing so.
“I entered this race because I thought it was wrong that this position was being all but handed to someone who lived in Tacoma when state law says she should not even be running,” Johnson’s blog reads. “In my day job, I have been taught to defend the constitutionality of state laws, not presume that they are unconstitutional. I don’t care how good a judge people think Ms. Schaller would be, the law says she cannot run, and if she gets the most votes, the law says she cannot serve.”
In his blog, Johnson stated that with Schaller’s name already included on the primary ballot, “the opportunity to file an election contest to keep her name off the general election ballot will come immediately after the primary election results are certified in August.”
In an email to The Olympian, Newman stated that Johnson’s attempt to join Parker’s petition is “an acknowledgment that Schaller is the odds-on favorite to win.”
As a family and juvenile court commissioner for Superior Court, Schaller hears criminal cases involving juveniles, as well as civil cases involving family disputes and child-custody cases. She has served as a commissioner for seven years. The position is appointed by Superior Court email@example.com 360-754-5445