Click here to view our video interview of Judge Andrus.
Event photos online at www.kcba.org/annualdinner.
June 2017 Bar Bulletin
By Carl Forsberg
Keen intellect, constant curiosity and a tireless work ethic mark this year’s recipient of the KCBA Outstanding Judge Award, King County Superior Court Chief Civil Judge Beth Andrus.
Born in Saginaw, Michigan, Judge Andrus earned a double undergraduate degree in French and speech communication from Wayne State University, and a J.D. degree from the University of Minnesota, followed by a year as a law clerk to Judge Gerald W. Heaney of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Andrus then practiced commercial, employment, intellectual property and construction law for more than 20 years at Schweppe, Krug & Tausend; Miller Nash; and Skellenger Bender, where she became a partner and then managing partner. As James Donohue (now chief magistrate judge in the Western District of Washington) recalls, at Miller Nash Judge Andrus shouldered major responsibility in back-to-back trials on trade secret and patent infringement issues. “She excelled throughout,” he says. “My work with Beth in these trials showcased her keen intellect, naturally curious nature, dependability, and, a trait I have found in few others, a strength of character such that she is generally unafraid to speak to power.”
At Skellenger Bender, longtime law partner and close friend Raegen Rasnic found that “no one works harder than Beth, as a litigation teammate she takes her load and more. However, at no time did Beth ever ask anyone to shoulder more than she had put on her own plate.”
Appointed to the King County Superior Court bench in 2010 by Gov. Chris Gregoire, Judge Andrus immediately took on administrative responsibilities and extra cases. Current Presiding Judge Laura Inveen recognizes Judge Andrus as “quite a force, a good force mind you, [who] does the work of two judges — as an example, while working on the Involuntary Treatment Act Calendar, Judge Andrus insisted on carrying a separate case load.”
Chief Unified Family Court Judge Lori Smith compares Judge Andrus to “Superwoman or the Energizer Bunny. She takes on a million tasks and gets them all done well. She cares deeply for our courts, the litigants, counsel, staff, [and] judicial officers. She is a forward thinker who has a real desire to figure out how to improve our systems while maintaining integrity and providing sufficient time for the litigants.”
Recently elevated to the Superior Court from Municipal Court, Judge Steven Rosen finds that Judge Andrus has been “a fabulous mentor to me. Since I’ve joined the King County bench, she has been gracious with her time in answering my many, many questions. She possesses a sharp intellect, her knowledge of the law is always on point, and her work ethic is something we should all aspire to.”
In one high-profile case, Judge Andrus enjoined as unconstitutional a Seattle ordinance that allowed garbage collectors to sort through residents’ trash to ensure that food scraps were not mixed with garbage. In another well-publicized case, she rejected a request from Uber to block key provisions of a recent Seattle ordinance that let drivers for ride-hailing companies decide to unionize.
Rasnic further notes that Judge Andrus is intellectually restless and always looking for the next thing to learn. While carrying a full caseload and handling heavy administrative duties, Judge Andrus completed a two-year master’s degree in judicial studies at the Judicial College, University of Nevada-Reno, and successfully presented her thesis, “The Vanishing Commercial Trial in King County Superior Court and the Role Private Arbitration May Play.”
Rasnic tells of Judge Andrus learning something new on safari in Tanzania several years ago. When a Masai guide demonstrated how to throw a hunting spear and asked for a volunteer, Judge Andrus stepped forward and, Rasnic relates, hurled the spear with fine form, force and accuracy.
Judge Andrus recently received the Seattle University School of Law’s 2017 Woman of the Year Award. Law school Dean Annette Clark praised the judge for her “extraordinary commitment” to mentoring new attorneys, and added that she “knows that powerful advocates for justice are not born that way. They need to be nurtured, supported, encouraged, and molded into leaders for their communities.”
Congratulations to Judge Andrus as this year’s recipient of the King County Bar Association’s Outstanding Judge Award. We look forward to following the path your intellectually curious nature and extreme work ethic take you. The litigators who come before you appreciate these traits, your fellow Superior Court judges applaud your hard work and leadership, and all envy your form with the spear.