November 2013 Bar Bulletin
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From the Desk of the Presiding Judge

Comings and Goings at King County Superior Court

By Judge Richard McDermott


I thought I would begin this month's column by providing you with an update of what is happening at the King County Superior Court.

As you probably remember from our recent announcements, we are in the process of hiring three new Superior Court commissioners, one for Ex Parte and two for family law. We had 52 applicants and interviewed 18. We were very pleased with the quality of the applicants and want to sincerely thank those who applied. We have narrowed our selections down and have made recommendations to the judges who were scheduled to vote at our meeting on October 24.

As a word of encouragement to those who were not selected, contact me if you have any questions and think about applying again when that time comes if it meets with your career goals. Our bench (judges and commissioners both) will be in a state of transition for several more years and there undoubtedly will be more vacancies on the bench as those of us who are "baby boomers" age out and retire. Since I have been presiding judge, there have been 11 new Superior Court judges and now three new commissioners - significant changes indeed.

Speaking of changes, Judge Michael Hayden and Judge Deborah Fleck recently announced their retirements from our bench. Both have contributed mightily to our court and will be greatly missed. Judge Hayden will work through the end of the year, but Judge Fleck is leaving effective November 30. In a way, it feels as if I am losing two good friends.

Judge Hayden and I had cases against one another when we were both in private practice. After he went to the bench, I had the opportunity to represent both his wife and daughter who had been involved in an automobile accident. As a judge, he has always been able to take and try the most difficult cases without reversal or even a second thought. He has been a stalwart on our bench. He is what a trial judge should be and since I have been PJ he has been one of those who has quietly offered advice and assistance.

I tell anyone who will listen that losing Judge Fleck is like the Yankees losing Babe Ruth - she is truly amazing. She has served in so many ways that to name them all would take way too much space. Just a few include being the Superior Court Judges Association president, legislative chair, representative to the Board for Judicial Administration (the court's policy-making body), chief judge of the Maleng Regional Justice Center and of the Unified Family Court, and co-chair and moving force behind the Justice in Jeopardy initiative that provided substantial state financial assistance to trial courts around the state. She campaigned relentlessly to improve judges' pensions and, thankfully, was successful.

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