January 2017 Bar Bulletin
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Profile / New KCSC Judges

7 Up - Taking the Bench

By Gene Barton


Now, the word “unprecedented” should not be tossed around lightly. But we used it in this feature four years ago when six new Superior Court judges were ushered into office after the 2012 election. At that time, then-Presiding Judge Richard McDermott proclaimed that to be a record number.

So, we’ll use the word again this time around to introduce another unprecedented class. Following the results of the November General Election, there are seven new judges primed and ready to take their seats on the King County Superior Court bench.

“This is a diverse group of lawyers who bring a wide variety of experiences to the Court,” said outgoing Presiding Judge Susan Craighead. “We are looking forward to their energy, their ideas, and their commitment to making justice a reality for the people of King County.”

Orientation for the new judges began on December 1 with an introduction to court administration. The judges officially start their terms on January 9 when they “plunge into more substantive training,” Judge Craighead said. This is “hands on, how to be a judge” training, she said. “We talk about case management, how to address a summary judgment motion, how to make a decision, and so on. We also have a week of dedicated family law training for judges new to Unified Family Court.”

Even as they start their training, the judges all will get caseloads and begin ruling on motions, “but when they will be in the courtroom trying their first cases will depend on how much training each person needs,” Judge Craighead said. “We have one new judge who has never tried a case and others who are already judges and will know how on Day One.”

There also is a state Judicial College that all new judicial officers attend beginning January 30, Judge Craighead noted. “It is a very intense week of instruction, homework and bonding,” she added. “Most judges make friends for the rest of their lives at Judicial College.”

To help you get to know at least a little bit about the “Superior 7,” we have summarized their lives and careers below, based on information provided on their campaign websites and other sources. In addition, former Bar Bulletin Editor Bob Anderton has contributed a piece on his now-former law partner, John McHale.

David Keenan

From troubled teen to the bench, Judge David Keenan took one of the more interesting routes to becoming a judge that we are likely to see. In short, he once seemed destined not to wear the black robe, but rather an orange jumpsuit.

“I started life as a high school dropout, and the first time I came to King County Superior Court was as a juvenile defendant,” Judge Keenan said on his election site. “I’ve done a lot with the second chances I’ve been given, but I believe I can do more as a Superior Court judge.”

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