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August 13, 2021

King County Superior Court Commends JustCARE, City of Seattle, and King County for Addressing Public Safety Concerns and Providing Shelter and Services to People Living in City Hall Park

King County Superior Court today expressed its gratitude and relief that the City of Seattle and King County have acted together in response to the Court’s urgent calls to provide alternate housing to people sheltering in City Hall Park.

“This is a significant step toward improving safety for all, maintaining essential access to our justice system, and ensuring the Court is able to fulfill our constitutional mandates,” said Acting Presiding Judge Patrick Oishi.

King County Superior Court leadership has for years raised concerns that violence occurring near the courthouse is harmful and dangerous for people living in the area, courthouse users and courthouse employees, and inhibits access to justice. This has resulted in an extraordinary access to justice crisis. The King County Courthouse is the seat of county government and where all members of our community come to peacefully resolve disputes.

“Improving the situation at City Hall Park is one piece of making this area safer. We remain very aware that conditions at Prefontaine Place, Third Avenue and the Courthouse vicinity can be unsafe and are hopeful that the City and County continue their efforts. But today, we wish to thank and recognize the efforts and leadership of the Seattle Mayor’s Office, King County Executive’s Office, King County Council and many other leaders in city and county government who collaborated in this significant work.”

Judge Oishi praised the outreach workers, social workers, and city and county employees involved in what may be the most significant effort to provide shelter and service to people living outside in Seattle’s recent history.

“We want all people in our community to be safe. We are grateful that JustCare, the City of Seattle, and King County were able to work together to respond to the needs of people living at City Hall Park.”

More than 70 people who had been living in City Hall Park have moved into shelters as the result of a collaboration between JustCARE and the City of Seattle’s HOPE team.


 

July 30, 2021

Meaningful Access to Courts Preserved by Council's Approval of COVID 8 Budget 

Funding ensures civil, family law cases will get heard as criminal case backlog is addressed

King County Superior Court expresses its gratitude to the King County Council for approving the 8th COVID Supplemental Budget, which awards $10,896,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to King County Superior Court, and $3,643,000 to Department of Judicial Administration, also known as the Superior Court Clerk’s Office. 

The Court is especially grateful for the leadership of the Budget and Fiscal Management Chair and co-chair, Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Rod Dembowski; the Chair of the Council, Claudia Balducci, and the support of Councilmembers Reagan Dunn, Kathy Lambert, Pete von Reichbauer, Joe McDermott, and Dave Upthegrove. 

“Everyone has a right to seek justice in our courts,” said King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jim Rogers. “By approving this COVID 8 budget, the King County Council has made that right meaningful for all people in King County. Their actions enable King County Superior Court to hire the temporary judges, commissioners, bailiffs, courtroom and interpreter staff needed to address the criminal case backlog that has accrued over the course of the pandemic, which ensures individuals with civil and family law cases can also have their day in court.”

“By approving this budget, the King County Council has strengthened access to justice, and we are most grateful for it,” said King County Superior Court Chief Administrative Officer Linda Ridge. “This support allows King County Superior Court to deliver on our mission; open to all, trusted by all, justice for all.”

About the Court

King County Superior Court handles civil matters, domestic matters, felony criminal cases, juvenile matters, and appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction. The state’s largest trial court, it is comprised of 54 judges, each elected to 4-year terms by the voters of King County, or, in the event of a vacancy, appointed by the Governor.

King County Superior Court has been recognized as a national leader in adopting technology to continue operations during the pandemic, and was among the first courts in the nation to resume jury trials by holding them in a socially-distanced format.



July 2, 2021

Linda Ridge Appointed Chief Administrative Officer 

King County Superior Court’s Executive Committee has appointed Linda K. Ridge Chief Administrative Officer of the King County Superior Court. CAO is the highest non-judicial officer role in the King County Superior Court.

“Ms. Ridge’s knowledge, experience, and commitment to innovation have enabled our Court to stay open and accessible in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable,” said Presiding Judge Jim Rogers. “I am grateful that our Court, and the people of King County, will continue to benefit from her leadership.”

Ms. Ridge was appointed as Acting CAO on January 1, 2021, upon the retirement of former CAO Paul L. Sherfey in December, 2020. From 2005 to 2020, Ms. Ridge served as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, and prior to that served in several different roles within the Court, including Court Operations Manager, Court Operations Director, and Director of the Maleng Regional Justice Center. Some of Ms. Ridge’s specific areas of focus during her tenure with the court include access to justice, strategic planning, and workforce development.

Ms. Ridge has also been involved in several capital design and construction projects since joining the court in 1992.

“I am honored to be named as CAO during a transformational time in the Court’s history, and am deeply committed to supporting the judicial officers and staff of this outstanding court moving forward,” she said.

From 1989-1992, Ms. Ridge held the position of Staff Associate with the Institute for Court Management of the National Center for State Courts, where she worked on several national projects including Managing Trials Effectively, State Legislative-Judicial Partnership, Tribal and State Court Relations, and Integration of Child and Family Cases. She also served as Managing Editor for the Justice System Journal.

Ms. Ridge holds a B.A. from Washington State University, graduating summa cum laude, and received her M.A. from the University of Denver.

King County Superior Court handles civil matters, domestic matters, felony criminal cases, juvenile matters, and appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction. The state’s largest trial court, it is comprised of 54 judges, each elected to 4-year terms by the voters of King County, or, in the event of a vacancy, appointed by the Governor.

 


 June 16, 2021

Judge Craighead Announces Her Retirement

Judge Susan J. Craighead is retiring from King County Superior Court, effective June 30.

Appointed to the King County Superior Court in 2007 by Governor Christine Gregoire, Judge Craighead served as Presiding Judge during the completion of the Clark Children Family and Justice Center (CCFCJ) and was a leader in efforts to eliminate racial disparities in the juvenile system.

“Judge Craighead was a good friend to many and a leader on our Court,” King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jim Rogers said. “She tirelessly worked her cases, spent many hours on the creation of the CCFCJ, and presided over trials despite incredible health challenges.  I often told her that she was the toughest person that I have ever met.” 

Judge Craighead served as a commissioner for the Washington state Court of Appeals for five years before her appointment to Superior Court. Prior to that, she was a staff attorney for the Seattle-King County Public Defender Association.

Judge Craighead also served as the law clerk for the late Justice Shirley Abrahamson at the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, worked as a reporter for the Louisville Courier Journal, and worked for the Federal Defenders of San Diego and the Alabama Capital Representation Resource Center.

About the Court

King County Superior Court handles civil matters, domestic matters, felony criminal cases, juvenile matters, and appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction. The state’s largest trial court, it is comprised of 53 judges, each elected to 4-year terms by the voters of King County, or, in the event of a vacancy, appointed by the Governor.

King County Superior Court Judges are assigned to departments of the Court; these assignments rotate annually. The court’s departments are: Criminal, Civil, Dependency, Drug Court, Juvenile, Unified Family Court, Ex Parte & Probate, and Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA) Court.



 

May 20, 2021

King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector to Retire

Long-serving judge lauded for “prescient” contributions to the Court’s pandemic response

Judge Julie Spector is retiring from King County Superior Court at end of June after more than 21 years in the position.

An expert in the intersections of law and public health, Judge Spector helped guide Superior Court through the global coronavirus pandemic from its onset in King County in 2020.

“King County Superior Court was among the first courts in the nation forced to respond to what is now known as COVID-19. The knowledge, experience, and training possessed by Judge Spector greatly enhanced our ability to respond swiftly and appropriately, protecting public health while maintaining access to justice,” said King County Presiding Judge Jim Rogers. “On behalf of all of Superior Court judicial officers and staff, I thank Judge Spector for her leadership during this critical period, and throughout her time on the bench.”

Dr. Jeff Duchin, Public Health Officer for Seattle-King County, said Judge Spector was “quite prescient” in her work to educate and prepare the judiciary for the complex and specialized challenges associated with managing cases in the context of a global infectious disease pandemic.

For years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Judge Spector studied and prepared for court responses to other, more routinely occurring communicable diseases that require isolation and/or quarantine, such as tuberculosis and H1N1, as well as other public health orders, Dr. Duchin said.

“It was a great pleasure to have worked with her on many issues, including the Bench Book, over the years,” Dr. Duchin said.

One of the longest-serving judges on the King County Superior Court bench, Judge Spector is a former public defender and deputy prosecutor. She was appointed to Superior Court by Gov. Gary Locke in 1999, and subsequently elected and re-elected by the voters of King County.

About the Court

King County Superior Court handles civil matters, domestic matters, felony criminal cases, juvenile matters, and appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction. The state’s largest trial court, it is comprised of 53 judges, each elected to 4-year terms by the voters of King County, or, in the event of a vacancy, appointed by the Governor.

King County Superior Court Judges are assigned to departments of the Court; these assignments rotate annually. The court’s departments are: Criminal, Civil, Dependency, Drug Court, Juvenile, Unified Family Court, Ex Parte & Probate, and Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA) Court.

For more information about judges and judicial assignments in King County Superior Court, please see the Court’s directory. 


 

January 22, 2021

New Judges Sworn in to King County Superior Court

King County Superior Court has welcomed two new judges to the bench.

Judge Hillary Madsen was sworn in by Presiding Judge Jim Rogers on January 11. Judge Andrea “Andy” Robertson was sworn in by Judge Karen Donohue on December 31, 2020.

“Being a judge is an enormous responsibility that requires courage, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to justice,” Judge Rogers said. “On behalf of King County Superior Court, I thank Judge Madsen and Judge Robertson for undertaking this important role. The administration of justice, and the people of King County, will be better off for their service.”

Judge Madsen

Elected by King County voters in November 2020, Judge Madsen  fills the position formerly held by Judge Theresa Doyle, who retired.

Judge Madsen brings to the bench broad legal experience that includes civil litigation, family law, and juvenile matters. She most recently worked at the Law Offices of Sorich, PLLC.  She is the daughter of state Supreme Court Justice Barbara Madsen.

Judge Madsen’s first assignment is to Unified Family Court at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

Judge Robertson

Judge Robertson was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee, and fills the seat left open by the resignation of Judge Roger Rogoff in November 2020.

A criminal defense attorney for more than 20 years, Judge Robertson served as a public defender, and later worked in private practice, combining civil and criminal trial work with the representation of individuals seeking protection orders for domestic violence and harassment. She most recently worked at her own practice, Robertson Law, PLLC.

Judge Robertson’s first assignment is to the Dependency department the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

About the Court

King County Superior Court handles civil matters, domestic matters, felony criminal cases, juvenile matters, and appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction. The state’s largest trial court, it is comprised of 53 judges, each elected to 4-year terms by the voters of King County, or, in the event of a vacancy, appointed by the Governor.

King County Superior Court Judges are assigned to departments of the Court; these assignments rotate annually. The court’s departments are: Criminal, Civil, Dependency, Drug Court, Juvenile, Unified Family Court, Ex Parte & Probate, and Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA) Court.

For more information about judges and judicial assignments in King County Superior Court, please see the Court’s directory. 

 


 

December 1, 2020

Chief Administrative Officer Paul L. Sherfey to Retire

King County Superior Court’s First Chief Administrative Officer Lauded for Skill, Commitment to Public Service

King County Superior Court announced the retirement of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Paul L. Sherfey today. CAO is the highest non-judicial officer role in King County Superior Court, and Mr. Sherfey has performed it since its creation by Superior Court judges more than 20 years ago.

“Paul Sherfey has been an incredible asset to King County Superior Court, and more broadly, to the people of King County,” said King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jim Rogers. “His skillful leadership and calm demeanor have steadied Superior Court through countless challenges and achievements. On behalf of King County Superior Court, I thank him for his service, and wish him the best in his retirement.”

A graduate of Gonzaga University and the University of Washington School of Law, Mr. Sherfey first joined King County in the 1980s, when he became Deputy Director of the Superior Court Clerk’s Office, working with then-Clerk Jan Michaels. After Ms. Michaels left to become executive director of the Washington State Bar Association, Mr. Sherfey succeeded her as King County Clerk in 1998. In 2000, the judges of King County Superior Court created the position of Chief Administrative Officer, and selected Mr. Sherfey to fill it.

In his career, Mr. Sherfey oversaw the creation of the King County Drug Court, which provides treatment and services to clients, reduces recidivism and the use of incarceration, and saves taxpayer dollars. He also led the development of the Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center, an award-winning multi-use facility that opened in 2020, filling resource gaps in the juvenile system and replacing an outdated and dilapidated building.  And, at the onset of the coronavirus emergency, Mr. Sherfey steered the rapid and unprecedented technology adoption that has enabled King County Superior Court to lead the nation in continuing the provision of essential justice services amid the pandemic.

Mr. Sherfey’s last day is Dec. 31. Deputy Administrative Officer Linda K. Ridge will become interim Chief Administrative Officer.

Ms. Ridge has served as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer since 2005, and prior to that served in several different roles within the court, including Court Operations Manager, Court Operations Director, and Director of the Maleng Regional Justice Center. Ms. Ridge has also been involved in a number of capital design and construction projects since joining the court in 1992. 

 

 


November 20, 2020

 

 

King County Superior Court Halts In-Person Jury Trials in response to COVID-19

King County Superior Court is suspending all in-person jury trials, effective today. Superior Court leadership will regularly review rates of COVID-19 and determine whether to extend the suspension. This process is expected to continue through January 11, 2021.  King County Superior Court is continuing to hold trials in civil, family law, involuntary treatment and dependency, all without juries, through video technology.  In addition, King County Superior Court is now holding virtual civil jury trials, where the jurors, witnesses and parties all remain at office or home and appear on video. 

In a statement, King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jim Rogers said:

“The well-being of our jurors, litigants, and staff is our utmost concern. We are grateful for their service, and the trust they place in us. Suspending jury trials is necessary to protect their health and safety, and that of our entire community. With guidance from public health experts from the University of Washington, we will continuously monitor rates of COVID-19 and adapt our Public Health Plan accordingly. The Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial.   

We are proud King County Superior Court has led the nation in restarting jury and bench trials in the Third Quarter of 2020, holding more jury and bench trials than any other court of its size.  However, we must respond safely and flexibly as the infections are rising.”

Today’s suspension is the second time King County Superior Court has halted jury trials in response to the pandemic. In early March, King County Superior Court halted all jury trials to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, in response to a Supreme Court Order.  

In July, King County Superior Court opened a “pop-up” courthouse in Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Center as part of its COVID-19 response. This additional courtroom space enabled the required physical distancing at KCSC’s downtown Seattle courthouse and the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. It allowed jury trials to resume under a comprehensive COVID-19 safety protocol that includes enhanced air filtration, cleaning and sanitization, required masks and social distancing, and remote jury selection.  

King County Superior Court also adopted technology that allows matters to be conducted remotely, via phone and video. As a result of this rapid and widespread technology adoption, King County Superior Court is well-prepared to continue providing essential justice services amid COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are far better able to respond to the pandemic now than we were ten months ago because of the all the work we have done and all we have learned,” Judge Rogers said.

Washington courts have remained open and operating throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but as with other essential services, the judicial branch has taken emergency measures to protect public safety while also maintaining public access to key justice services. 

In a November 20 letter to the state’s Superior Court judges, Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Debra Stephens said, “Consistent with existing Supreme Court orders and the court-specific public health guidance developed by the state Department of Health, every court needs to take a hard look at their local COVID-19 numbers, and modify practices as needed to reduce exposure risks and increase compliance with important health and safety practices in all court facilities.”

 


 

July 16, 2020

With a New Bellevue Location and Safeguards in Place, King County Superior Court Prepares to Resume Jury Trials

King County Superior Court has dramatically remade the administration of jury trials in response to the health risks presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Every stage of the trial process, from how jurors are selected for a trial to where they perform their deliberations, has been reviewed. The result is an operation that looks vastly different than the one familiar to people prior to the pandemic.

“Coronavirus changed everything, including how courts must operate,” said King County Superior Court Presiding Judge James E. (Jim) Rogers. “What hasn’t changed is the Constitutional right each person has to a trial by a jury of their peers. Together with public health experts, we’ve created a protocol that fulfills this right while protecting the health and safety of everyone in our community.”

Among the key changes:

  • Meydenbauer Center to become temporary courthouse; free parking for all jurors To facilitate the necessary social distancing, some jury trials will be conducted at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. Jurors will receive free parking during their service, regardless of their assigned location.
  • No more large groups Jurors will no longer report to Court locations in large jury group assemblies. Additionally, both in-person orientation and group questioning have been eliminated. Instead, prior to reporting for service, jurors will be contacted by the assigned trial judge to complete an online orientation and any case-specific questionnaires. Most jurors will participate in jury selection via a video platform such as Zoom, and some will come in person. Once a jury is selected, they will report in person for trial.
  • Social distancing and facial coverings required and enforced Courtrooms have been reconfigured for social distancing. Facial coverings are required. The Court will provide facial coverings to those without them. Trials will be on staggered schedules to minimize building occupancy. Signage will direct safe use of stairways and elevators.
  • Ventilation system remediations The University of Washington environmental health experts inspected the ventilation systems for each courthouse. Consistent with their written findings and where recommended, facilities management made updates and remediations to the ventilation systems in the trial spaces.
  • Plexiglas barriers, similar to those found in supermarkets, have been installed at upper and lower benches in courtrooms.
  • Enhanced health screenings and exemptions for jury service Anyone who is unable to serve because of a health condition, as documented by a letter from a medical provider, will be excused from service. All remaining prospective jurors will undergo a health screening in advance of reporting.

Thousands of people await the justice only juries can provide

To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, King County Superior Court halted all jury trials in early March. Since then, thousands of cases have languished.  There are now over 800 criminal and countless civil cases awaiting trial. These numbers represent thousands of individuals who have yet to have their day in court.  

“Jury service, like voting, is an opportunity for people to decide what justice looks like in their community,” said Judge Rogers. “We are grateful to all who show up to do this important work, and we’ve never been more committed to their safety and well-being.”

As an essential function or business, King County Superior Court is exempted from Governor Inslee’s phased approach to re-opening. With these new safeguards in place, and after careful consultation with public health authorities, the Court is set to resume jury trials this month.