Judicious choice in Judge

Electing judges, a populist legacy of the 19th century, is often reduced to a Hobson’s choice, alighting on the lesser of two lessers. In Snohomish County, the opposite is true, as adroit, qualified women and men continue to pursue service on the Superior Court bench.

Running for Snohomish County Superior Court, Position 11, Millie Judge and Jack Follis both exhibit the requisite integrity, temperament, and experience to serve with distinction. Both manifest the demeanor and intelligence that will elevate the bench and safeguard an impartial justice system. In a close call, The Herald recommends Millie Judge based on her variegated background and service as an Administrative Law Judge.

Judge (a surname that foreshadowed her candidacy) served for several years as the Assistant Chief Civil Deputy in the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s office. Over the past 22 years, Judge has sported a variety of hats, as a law clerk to Chief Justice Fred Dore on the Washington Supreme Court, as an attorney in private practice, and as a seasoned practitioner of mental health and municipal law. Judge has internalized county land-use and environmental codes in her role as the Snohomish County Hearing Examiner — a snooze-inducing assignment that testifies to her intelligence and facility to make tough decisions.

Judge’s signal achievement was her work a few years ago pursuing settlement negotiations on King County’s Brightwater Treatment Plant. That patience-of-Job process netted Snohomish County $70 million for environmental mitigation. It also underlined Judge’s capacity for mastering minutia while advancing an equitable outcome.

Whether it’s “Judge Judge” or “Judge Follis” after the Aug. 7 primary, this is not your daddy’s superior court. County courts are becoming strapped institutions, meting out justice with limited resources. Judge and Follis both identify the need for a county mental health court, an approach that should save taxpayers money over the long-term while benefitting an underserved, often invisible population.

Judge and Follis also flag the problem of more citizens in an anemic economy unable to afford an attorney. As one solution, Judge suggests that the court quickly embrace the Washington Supreme Court’s new Application to Practice Rule 28, which allows limited-license technicians to assist folks trying to navigate filing procedures and court forms.

Judge ventures into the minefield of juvenile-sentencing guidelines, recommending that the Legislature pass reforms that would give judges more latitude in weighing a defendant’s individual circumstances. Judge is clearly right, although no one should hold their breath that the Legislature promulgates any proposal that could later be recast as “soft on crime.”

In an embarrassment of riches, two stellar choices for the Superior Court bench have been presented to Snohomish County voters. If only all offices — judicial and political — were so blessed.

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