Shelton lawyer gets nod for U.S. District Court

WASHINGTON - The White House has nominated an attorney from Shelton to serve as a U.S. District judge in Tacoma after initially rejecting three candidates recommended by a bipartisan panel.

Benjamin Settle, an Olympia native who has practiced law in Shelton since 1977, will have to be confirmed by the Senate. Settle was one of 10 nominees to the federal bench, including six appeals court nominees previously blocked by the Senate, announced by the administration.

It was unclear Thursday whether Settle would be considered by the current Senate with its Republican majority before the end of the year, or in the new Senate with a Democratic majority that convenes in January.

Settle will replace U.S. District Judge Franklin Burgess, who retired. Federal judges are appointed for life.

"I have worked hard to establish a fair, bipartisan method in Washington state that generates candidates who are qualified and impartial," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to working with the administration and my colleagues here in the Senate to move this nomination forward."

Under an agreement originally reached between Murray and former Republican Sen. Slade Gorton, candidates for federal judicial openings in Washington state are selected by a six-member bipartisan commission.

The panel interviews possible candidates and reviews their qualifications before selecting three by a majority vote. Murray then interviews the three candidates and makes the actual recommendations to the White House.