February 2014 Bar Bulletin
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From the Desk of the Presiding Judge

New Commissioners Fill the Bench

By Judge Susan Craighead


This is my inaugural column as King County Superior Court's new presiding judge. As I write, I'm entering my third week in this role and I am still enjoying it thoroughly. Perhaps the other shoe will drop some time soon. Fortunately, I know I can rely on our talented staff and committed judicial officers to make me look good no matter what.

Speaking of committed judicial officers, I am delighted to be able to introduce our four new court commissioners to the Bar. Last fall, the court worked very hard for several weeks to select four attorneys to join our ranks from a pool of highly qualified applicants. Three of our new commissioners are assigned to family law and one serves as constitutional commissioner in the Ex Parte Department. It was heartening to see the level of interest in the work of our court.

Our new ex parte commissioner is Chad Allred, who was a partner at Ellis, Li & McKinstry until he joined us at the first of the year. Commissioner Allred's practice spanned trusts, estates and probate matters, and all the way to commercial, business and real estate litigation. He regularly served in the Ex Parte Department as a commissioner pro tempore since 2010. The breadth of Commissioner Allred's professional background is rare and yet essential to presiding over the court's "emergency room."

Commissioner Allred became something of an expert on The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, serving on the National Advisory Board of The Hague Domestic Violence Project. Since 1999, he served as a volunteer attorney with Open Door Legal Services, which provides free legal help to homeless people in Seattle. Located in a homeless shelter, Open Door offers the myriad legal services required to meet the general civil legal needs of the homeless.

Commissioner James Kahan joined us in December. Commissioner Kahan left a thriving family law practice in Kirkland to take on the rewarding but prodigious work of a family court commissioner. He sat regularly as a commissioner pro tempore for this court beginning in 2007. He brings more than 22 years of family law experience to the bench.

Early in his career, when awareness of domestic violence was just dawning within the legal community, Commissioner Kahan volunteered as a domestic violence victim's advocate, serving one morning a week for an entire year. For many years, Commissioner Kahan volunteered with the KCBA's Neighborhood Legal Clinics all over the county.

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