County lawyers rank choices for Superior Court

Snohomish County lawyers put two deputy prosecutors and a court commissioner at the top of their preference list for a vacant Superior Court seat.

The Snohomish County Bar Association poll was conducted to advise Gov. Christine Gregoire, who is expected to appoint one of seven applicants to the bench to replace Judge Stephen Dwyer.

Veteran deputy prosecutor David Kurtz, 52, topped the list, garnering 410 points under a weighted scoring system.

The rankings

Here’s how Snohomish County lawyers ranked the seven applicants for a Superior Court appointment:

David Kurtz: 410

Seth Fine: 291

Tracy Waggoner: 225

Joe Wilson: 118

Millie Judge: 107

Elizabeth Turner: 84

Jim Johanson: 78

Seth Fine, 49, head of the prosecutor’s appellate unit, was second with 291 points, and court commissioner Tracy Waggoner, 46, was third with 225 points.

Lawyers were asked to rank their first, second and third choices among the seven candidates. A first-place vote earned three points, second got two points and third earned one point. There are about 580 bar members, and 218 participated in the voting.

Kurtz got the largest number of first-place votes, 97, while Fine was ranked second by 67 lawyers.

Voters also were asked to rate the applicants as excellent, good, average, poor or unknown.

More than half the participants rated Kurtz as “excellent,” 120. Next came Fine with 88 and Waggoner with 57 in the excellent category.

The applicant with the biggest “poor” rating was Mountlake Terrace lawyer Jim Johanson. More than a third of the voters, rated Johanson as be a poor choice for judge.

Millie Judge, a deputy prosecutor in the civil division, got the largest number of “unknown” votes, 112.

Dwyer was elected to the state Court of Appeals in November. He won handily among several candidates following the death of Judge Faye Kennedy.

Whoever gets the appointment to the Superior Court bench will have to stand for election in November.

The governor’s office has not said when Gregoire will make the appointment. A spokeswoman said the governor would use ratings from the bar poll and other groups, as well as comments from judges and other sources in making her decision.

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or

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