The recent announcement by Judge Lonny Suko that he's stepping back from active status will leave Eastern Washington's federal bench with two vacancies until Senior Judge Ed Shea's seat is filled.
Suko, who's been a U.S. District Court judge based in Yakima since 2003, plans to join Shea and four other colleagues in senior status starting Nov. 1.
He announced in mid-July that he'd notified President Barack Obama and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts of his intent to go into semi-retirement.
Like Shea, he will continue to handle at least 50 percent of the average number of cases taken by other judges in the district, while also collecting the full salary.
That helps the active judges juggle the daily demands of being a full-time judge.
Shea, whose office is in the Richland Federal Building, became a senior judge in June 2012.
The two finalists recommended for his seat -- Judge Cameron Mitchell of Benton-Franklin Superior Court and Stan Bastian, a private-practice lawyer in Wenatchee -- are somewhere in the vetting process at the White House, before Obama picks his nominee and sends their name to the Senate for confirmation.
That position could be filled in a matter of months, or the appointment process may last years, depending on the political landscape of nominations.
Suko's replacement also will spend the majority of his or her time in Yakima, but must be prepared to travel to the courthouses in Richland and Spokane to hear cases.
An application is available on the court's website, www.waed.usscourts.gov, under career opportunities.
Any attorney who has been admitted to practice in the Eastern District can apply, and must submit personal background and professional information. The position pays $174,000 a year.
Deadline is Aug. 15.
The candidates will again be reviewed by a bipartisan committee, with recommendations forwarded to Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for further interviews before being sent to the White House.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer