A retired Superior Court judge and two former Tri-City attorneys who all died in the past year will be remembered today during a ceremony in the Franklin County Courthouse.
The annual bar memorial starts at 4 p.m. in the Pasco building's historic courtroom.
Judge Cameron Mitchell is expected to preside over the event, which is organized by the Benton-Franklin Superior Court administration and the Benton-Franklin Bar Association.
During the hour-long memorial, family, friends and former colleagues will recognize Judge Fred Staples, longtime lawyer Rem Ryals and Michael Larsen, who spent part of his career practicing in the Tri-Cities.
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Superior Court Administrator Pat Austin said the court holds the service "to show respect to those in their profession" who recently died.
Mitchell and Alicia Berry, a Kennewick attorney and the bicounty bar association's president, will speak, then they will open it up to anyone to share stories or fond memories for each individual, Austin said.
Staples was the longest-standing judge on the Superior Court bench when he retired in September 1994.
A 1951 graduate of Sunnyside High School, he was known for his sharp legal mind, his tenacious pursuit of causes and interests, and his gruff exterior that hid a love for his family. Often seen off the bench with a cigar clenched in his teeth, he led numerous efforts, all unsuccessful, to relocate the Benton County seat from Prosser to Kennewick.
Staples, 77, died Sept. 19 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his Richland home. He had been ill for about a year with cancer and other untreatable ailments.
Ryals practiced law for nearly 40 years, closing his Richland office in May 1998.
The youngest member of his Richland High class, graduating at 15, Ryals was known during his career for his booming voice and gentlemanly courtroom manner. He was a firm believer in First Amendment rights, and was proud to have prepared the legal briefs for a controversial Richland free speech case that went before the U.S. Supreme Court and resulted in a unanimous win.
Ryals, 77, died at his Richland home on June 3, his Herald obituary said.
Larsen practiced criminal and family law in the Tri-Cities and Vancouver, Wash., for a total 25 years. He then spent a decade as the lead attorney in the public defender's office for The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation court system before retiring in 2009, according to his obituary in The Seattle Times.
Larsen, 64, died April 2in Spokane due to complications from a stroke, the obit said.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; email@example.com