Published November 30, 2012
Friends, judges say goodbye to Thurston Judge Thomas McPheeJEREMY PAWLOSKI
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee retired Friday afternoon during a ceremony in a packed courtroom that included attorneys, sitting and former judges, court staffers and his family. Presiding Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham began the ceremony by thanking McPhee for his years of service. McPhee has been a Superior Court judge since 1990. Wickham reeled off a list of important trials McPhee has presided over, including a three-month Pierce County case involving the slaying of a police officer. More recently, McPhee presided over a civil lawsuit aimed at overturning the Olympia Food Co-op’s boycott of Israeli goods. McPhee dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that it was an illegal Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or SLAPP. “He has always been a judge that other lawyers respect and like to appear before,” Wickham said. “… He will perhaps most be remembered for his work in this courthouse as an exceptional trial judge.” McPhee, 69, is the last of four Thurston County Superior Court judges who have retired in the past two years; the others are Christine Pomeroy, Paula Casey and Richard Hicks. Their departures cleared the way for four new judges who have joined, or soon will join, the Superior Court bench. McPhee will be replaced by local attorney Erik Price, who defeated Court Commissioner Indu Thomas in the November election. McPhee was presented with plaques, certificates of appreciation and gifts from colleagues and co-workers during the ceremony. He was a private-practice attorney in Olympia before being appointed to the Thurston County bench in 1990 by former Gov. Booth Gardner. McPhee thanked his friends and co-workers, including his judicial assistant, Trina Wendel, and court reporter Kathy Beehler. “I’ve so enjoyed my time here,” he said. “… To the lawyers in the room, I don’t think I’ve made any secret over the years about how much I value and respect your work. I so love seeing skilled professionals perform in a manner that takes us to where we need to be, which is justice.” One of McPhee’s close friends, attorney Don Law, shared details about McPhee’s life. He said McPhee grew up in Natches, where he was struck by polio when he was 10, spending months in a wheelchair before he fully recovered. McPhee was the vice president of his student body at Natches High School and later attended Washington State University. McPhee is a 1969 graduate of the University of Oregon Law School. “What a wonderful professional life it has been,” McPhee said.