Five Tri-City lawyers who have applied for an opening on the Benton-Franklin Superior Court bench are waiting to find out who will be picked for an interview with Gov. Jay Inslee.
The selection process for the seventh judicial position is nearing the end, with Inslee expected to make the appointment in early October.
Applications for the newest seat on the bench were received last month from Terry Bloor, Jacqueline “Jackie” Shea Brown, Ted Sams, Sam Swanberg and Alan Tindell.
The position was created in 2013 when the Washington Legislature approved the judgeship, and Inslee signed the bill. However, it took a couple of years for the counties to secure the funding.
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Superior Court judges are paid $162,618 per year. The state pays half of the salary and all benefits. The other half is divided between Benton and Franklin counties based on a formula for that year’s assessed property values.
Benton-Franklin Superior Court has had six judges since 2003. In that time, the number and complexity of the cases in the bicounty district have grown enough that court officials felt there was a need for a new member on the bench.
Superior Court judges handle civil and felony criminal cases, divorces, and paternity and custody issues.
Nicholas Brown, the governor’s general counsel, told the Herald that he has traveled to the Tri-Cities and interviewed the candidates who had newly applied.
Bloor is a chief criminal deputy prosecutor in the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office. He was a finalist in 2013 for an appointment to the state Court of Appeals in Spokane.
Sams is an attorney for Adult Protective Services under the state Department of Social and Health Services, and has a part-time private practice on the side.
Shea Brown and Tindell have separate private firms in Richland, and Swanberg’s private practice is in Kennewick.
Sams applied for Superior Court vacancies in 2013 and 2014, and Swanberg previously applied once for the Superior Court bench.
According to the Washington State Bar Association’s website, Bloor was admitted to the bar in 1979, Swanberg and Tindell in 1992, Shea Brown in 1994 and Sams in 2001.
Nicholas Brown said the Governor’s Office is conducting reference checks on the candidates and reviewing all of the application materials.
Then, Brown will make a recommendation to Inslee, who will hold final interviews in Olympia.
The new judge will face election in 2016 to retain the seat.