June 2013 Bar Bulletin
 
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June 2013 Bar Bulletin

WILLIAM L. DWYER OUTSTANDING JURIST: Sharon S. Armstrong

By Judge Ann Schindler

 

The William L. Dwyer Outstanding Jurist Award recognizes Judge Sharon Stewart Armstrong's extraordinary 27-year career as a Superior Court judge and leader committed to improving the court system to ensure the just and timely resolution of cases.

Since her appointment to the bench in 1985, lawyers have consistently ranked Judge Armstrong as one of the top King County Superior Court judges. A brilliant, gracious and efficient judge, attorneys relished the opportunity to try a case in her court.

Civil litigator Jeff Tilden says, "She's terrific. It was a pleasure to try a case in Judge Armstrong's court; it made me proud to be a lawyer. Even when Judge Armstrong ruled against me, I knew she worked hard, carefully thought about it and made the decision based on the law."

Washington State Association for Justice President Rebecca Roe was always impressed with the innovative techniques Judge Armstrong used in civil cases to help jurors understand the case. "Judge Armstrong loved the craft of presiding over jury trials and enhancing the experience for everyone," Roe said.

In criminal cases, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said Judge Armstrong "gained widespread admiration within the Prosecuting Attorney's Office for the way she conducted her courtroom. A trial assignment to her courtroom was viewed as a lucky draw by deputy prosecutors. As a sentencing judge, she could be tough when she needed to be, and show mercy when it was appropriate."

Criminal defense attorney Robert Flennaugh agreed. "Jury trials can be stressful for attorneys," he said. "But I always enjoyed being in front of Judge Armstrong. Without fail, Judge Armstrong would treat my client and me with fairness and respect."

Judge Armstrong, who retired from the bench earlier this year, sought to improve the experience of jurors and the litigants, and was a pioneer in allowing jurors to take notes and ask questions in civil cases. Judge Armstrong worked to make the jury instructions not only accurate, but comprehensible.


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