Letter: Selection process is skewed
Friday, August 12, 2011
In what has become the standard for selecting judges, the Clark County bar has once again gamed the replacement process so the public has little chance to see the prospects or have a say in who is selected.
Daniel Stahnke was appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire to replace retiring Clark County Superior Court Judge Roger Bennett. The retirement timing occurred so that an interim appointment would be needed to fill the uncompleted term. When Bennett’s retirement plan was announced, the bar association identified attorneys interested in the position, held a preference survey and conducted a lobbying campaign for the preferred candidate.
When the governor made her appointment, who was the bar association’s preferred candidate, it shows as “interim” until the next election, but really it is the done deal. Once installed, the new judge can claim the mantle of “incumbent,” and as such, come election time being the incumbent will assure that he will likely have no opponent, as few practicing attorneys would dare run against a sitting judge. The interim judge is most likely assured of getting the permanent position never having to face the public.
The public is highly skeptical of attorneys and the above example is among the reasons.