Politics & Government

Local bar favors Commissioner Schaller for judge job

Christine Schaller, who serves as a Thurston County Superior Court commissioner, led four other Olympia-area attorneys in a Thurston County Bar Association poll considering possible appointees for a vacant position.

Gov. Christine Gregoire is considering candidates for appointment to replace recently retired Judge Richard Hicks on the eight-judge court. Schaller had 50 votes followed by Cecelia Clynch with 23, Lisa Sutton with 17, Tracy Mitchell with 15 and Timothy Ford with five.

Go here for the bar press release.

Only 110 of the bar's 265 members participated. The bar asked its members to vote for one of the five lawyers that indicated to the bar's elections committee that they wanted the governor to consider them.

Bar president Kalo Wilcox said association bylaws require a poll when a vacancy occurs in situations other than an expired term.

Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren said the governor's general legal counsel , Narda Pierce, expects to interview the candidates very soon.

Gregoire "realizes the court needs a full complement of judges and hopes to make that appointment soon," Shagren said. But she did not say how many candidates are being interviewed and declined to identify who is in the running.

Ford said he was just notified by the Governor's Office that his application missed an Oct. 4 deadline, so he is not under consideration. Ford is open-records ombudsman for the state Attorney General's Office and also ran for state Court of Appeals in 2008 against Judge Robin Hunt.

Ford said the bar poll results were a disappointment but said of Schaller: "She is well respected."

Clynch was a Thurston bar president in 2004 and is a trial lawyer. Sutton is a lawyer in the torts division of the Attorney General’s Office. Mitchell is a personal injury lawyer.

Judge Hicks retired after an 18-year judge’s career late last month.