December 2012 Bar Bulletin
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December 2012 Bar Bulletin

Judge Jim Doerty Hangs up His Robe

By Judge Deborah Fleck and Cynthia Whitaker


A remarkable thing happened on the way to Judge Jim Doerty's retirement - the family law bar honored him with a special celebration of his judicial career at the Women's University Club on October 12.

Attorney Michael Bugni sums up why family law attorneys wanted to recognize Judge Doerty, perhaps the first time such a bar-sponsored event has occurred. "Judge Doerty has been a treasured friend of the family law bar and a model jurist in family law matters," Bugni says.

"His judgments are impartial, well reasoned and true to the law. Moreover, he has endeavored to understand and empathize with the particular challenges of being a family law attorney or commissioner, and has shared that understanding with his fellow judges, being a top proponent of elevating the quality of family law seminars and trainings for the local bench."

Event organizer Cynthia Whitaker says it was "easy" to gather financial and other support for the event: "The response and enthusiasm were overwhelming." The host committee consisted of 27 generous attorneys who scheduled the party to follow the King County Bar Association's annual "Hot Topics in Family Law" seminar, where Judge Doerty has been a frequent speaker.

He has led a purpose-driven career, one that has focused, laser-like, on working to improve the justice system for children and families and on making just decisions to serve the best interests of children. "Judge Doerty has an undying passion for kids and families - that's where his heart is," says Judge Patricia Clark.

As an attorney, Judge Doerty worked for 16 years overall at The Defender Associa­tion (TDA), largely focused on juvenile offender, dependency and juvenile "status offender" cases in the days before the Legislature passed the Becca law in 1995. He supervised several of TDA's divisions and became the deputy director in 1986.

The court was able to entice him to become a family law commissioner in 1995, specializing in child-welfare cases, thanks to then Judge (later Justice) Bobbe Bridge's keen eye and skills of persuasion.

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