Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

2 Superior Court judge positions added in Snohomish County

The governor signed the bill into law Friday, bringing the number of Superior Court judges in the county to 17. Three seats are vacant.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee signed a new law Friday to add two Superior Court judges in Snohomish County.

Senate Bill 5575 creates the additional judges, bringing the county’s total to 17. It will be the first expansion of the bench in the county since 2007.

It will bring “immediate relief to the Snohomish County court system” to help decrease a case backlog due to the pandemic, Inslee said.

The process of filling the new seats, and the vacancy created by the recent death of Judge Cassandra Lopez-Shaw, is underway.

Those wishing to succeed Lopez-Shaw must submit their applications, or confirm their continued interest, if they previously applied for a judicial position, by March 21. An appointment could be announced by the end of this month or early April.

“We will do everything we can to move as quickly as possible to fill this vacancy,” press secretary Mike Faulk said in an email.

Superior Court judges handle felony criminal cases, juvenile cases and a wide range of civil cases.

Candidates for the new seat must submit applications by April 4. Appointments could be announced ahead of July 1, which is when the state’s portion of funding would become available.

Funding for the state’s share of first-year costs, $341,000, is in the supplemental budget approved Thursday by lawmakers.

In Washington, the state pays half the salary and all of the benefits for each judicial position. Counties must pony up half the salary and cover costs of office expenses and court staff.

The salary for a Superior Court judge will be $203,169, with annual benefits of $69,077. That works out to $341,324 for the state fiscal year that begins July 1.

Snohomish County expects its annual tab will be around $1 million. That tally accounts for its share of salaries for the two judges, plus the wages of a court reporter, law clerk and two judicial assistants for each judge.

The number of Superior Court judges in each county is set by statute. Any changes are made by the Legislature based on recommendations from the Board for Judicial Administration. That panel draws its recommendation from an annual analysis of the workload of each Municipal and Superior Court, done by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

In 2020, the analysis showed Snohomish County needed about 1½ more judges.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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