County bar prefers Commissioner Stahnke for judge position

Governor will consider results when she makes appointment

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: July 14, 2011, 5:46 PM

 

The Clark County Bar Association has spoken: Superior Court Commissioner Dan Stahnke is best suited to replace Judge Roger Bennett, who is retiring Sept. 1.

In preference poll results released Thursday morning, the bar association overwhelmingly chose Stahnke over his five opponents for the position.

The poll will be considered by Gov. Chris Gregoire, who will appoint Bennett’s successor in September. Bennett’s term doesn’t expire until 2012.

Of the 237 votes gathered, 117 went to Stahnke. Coming in a distant second with 45 votes was Carin Schienberg, also a Superior Court Commissioner; private civil attorney David Gregerson took 44 votes.

Stahnke applied for Superior Court Judge Robert Harris’ position in 2009 and also won the preference poll for that post. However, the position went to then-District Court Judge Rich Melnick.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Camara Banfield received 24 votes, defense attorney Bob Yoseph took six votes and defense attorney Lou Byrd had one vote.

Voters were asked to rate each candidate on their legal ability, judicial temperament, integrity and relevant law experience. Stahnke took the top number of votes, around 80 percent, in each category.

Bennett, a Superior Court judge since 1990, announced May 10 that he was retiring to become a practicing attorney. He said he wanted to focus on criminal defense work, along with probate cases and mediation.

He is the second-longest-serving judge on the 10-member Superior Court bench behind Barbara Johnson, who took office in 1987.

Superior Court judges have jurisdiction over all criminal cases, civil cases, divorces, probate cases and juvenile court.

They earn $148,836 a year.