Defense attorney Witteman chosen for District Court commissioner post

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A longtime Vancouver criminal defense attorney has been chosen to be a Clark County District Court commissioner.

Jeff Witteman, 68, was selected by the six District Court judges.

Judge Ken Eiesland said Thursday that Witteman was chosen out of the 18 applicants because of his extensive law experience, including three years as a pro tem District Court judge.

“He’s got over 30 years’ experience and is extremely well qualified for trial work,” Eiesland said. “He’s the type of person who had wound down his practice and could go to work immediately.”

The commissioner position was vacated in March by the appointment of Kelli Osler to District Court judge.

Witteman beat two finalists: Deputy Prosecutor Julie Carmena and Superior Court family court coordinator Terry Vetter.

Witteman has practiced law in Clark County since 1970, specializing in criminal defense, which included indigent work. He has also handled workers’ compensation and Social Security disability appeal cases.

Witteman was sworn in Monday and has began hearing traffic infraction cases and shadowing judges in criminal cases.

Court commissioners earn about $114,000 per year and don’t have to run for election. They preside over a variety of matters, including small-claims disputes, misdemeanor crimes and contested traffic infractions.

Witteman said Thursday he was ready for change and excited about the appointment.

“I have been pro tem District Court judge since March 2007, and that experience was very fulfilling,” he said. “When I heard they would be opening a second commissioner spot, I decided to apply.”