According to a spokesman for the secretary of state, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, writing for the court, said the Constitution requires only that a judge be an attorney who has been admitted to practice before the courts of record in Washington. A statute requiring that county officials be a voter of that county does not trump the Constitution, and the Legislature cannot add additional qualifications that are not in the Constitution, the court said. Further, Superior Court judges are state officers, not solely county officers, the court added.
Based on legal advice, Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman, the Secretary of State-elect, accepted Schallers filing for an open seat on the county court, which handles nearly all cases involving state government. A legal challenge ensued, ending up in the high court; voters elected Schaller by a landslide 66.5 percent vote. Schaller has been the court commissioner since 2005 and grew up in Olympia.
Wyman said she was pleased with the legally sound and logical ruling by the court.