A Wenatchee lawyer will become the next federal judge in Eastern Washington after the full U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination Wednesday.
Stan Bastian was named by President Obama in September to replace U.S. District Court Judge Ed Shea of Richland, who went to senior status almost two years ago.
Now, with the Senate confirmation behind him, Bastian’s name will go back to the White House for final approval by the president.
Bastian is a managing partner in the Wenatchee law firm of Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward.
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The Senate voted 95-0 in favor of Bastian for the lifetime appointment. Five senators did not vote.
Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both Democrats, recommended Bastian for consideration, along with Judge Cameron Mitchell of Benton-Franklin Superior Court. Bastian was chosen as the final candidate.
Murray spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday encouraging her colleagues to confirm Bastian, saying he’s an “excellent nominee” who’s tried hundreds of criminal and civil cases.
She noted that both Democrats and Republicans on Eastern Washington’s judicial selection committee supported sending Bastian’s name to Washington D.C., a strong endorsement in today’s political atmosphere.
“He has nearly 30 years of litigation experience. He’s a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. He’s (immediate past) chairman of the Equal Justice Coalition (in Washington state). And, throughout his career, he served the Washington bar, first as a member of the Board of Governors and eventually as president,” Murray said.
“Mr. President, our system of government is at its best when good people step up to the plate and are willing to serve,” she added. “And throughout his legal career, Stan Bastian has done just that.”
The Senate passed a motion Tuesday to end further discussion or delays and move forward with a number of judicial nominations, but didn’t vote on Bastian’s confirmation until Wednesday afternoon.
Cantwell, who praised the confirmation vote, also addressed her fellow senators about Bastian, saying he’s “the kind of highly qualified federal judge” that Eastern Washington needs.
“When I interviewed Mr. Bastian, I was impressed by his respect for legal precedent, his commitment to the rule of law, his work to improve access to justice, and his local knowledge that is very important to serving Eastern Washington and all of Washington,” Cantwell said. “His legal career exemplifies public service, a commitment to justice, and a stellar legal intellect. I am confident that he will serve the Eastern District well.”
Bastian has been instructed not to talk to the media during the nomination process.
The federal Eastern District of Washington covers everything east of the Cascade Mountains. The district has courthouses in Spokane, Yakima and Richland.
The annual salary is $199,100.
Bastian was nominated to fill Shea’s position, which is based in Richland’s Federal Building.
Shea now handles a reduced workload with his senior status. He told the Herald in September that Bastian is “an outstanding choice” to be a federal jurist.
Also awaiting confirmation to a judicial vacancy is Judge Sal Mendoza Jr. of Benton-Franklin Superior Court.
Mendoza would become the first Latino federal judge in Eastern Washington if he replaces Judge Lonny Suko, who went to senior status in November. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted earlier this month to send Mendoza’s nomination to the full Senate. No date has been set.
If both Bastian and Mendoza are confirmed, the district could move to swap the positions so that Mendoza would be based in the Tri-Cities and Bastian in Yakima. That means they would be closer to their hometowns — Mendoza lives in Kennewick.
Bastian joined the Wenatchee law firm in 1988. He primarily handles civil employment cases, but his legal expertise also is in healthcare, police liability and labor negotiations.
He often has represented local municipalities in court, including Wenatchee when it faced civil suits brought by former defendants in the tainted sex abuse arrests of the 1990s, The Wenatchee World has reported.
Bastian previously was an applicant in 2011, to replace federal Judge James Whaley after his move to senior status, and in 2009, to replace retiring Judge James Van Sickle, the newspaper said.
Bastian is married to Judge Alicia Nakata of Chelan County Superior Court.
Early in his career, he served as a law clerk for state Court of Appeals Judge Ward Williams and worked as an assistant city attorney in the criminal division of the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. He was president of the Washington State Bar Association in 2007-08.
Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer