In what he called “a dream come true,” Daniel Stahnke was appointed Friday as a Clark County Superior Court judge.
Stahnke currently serves as a Clark County Superior Court commissioner. Gov. Chris Gregoire picked him to replace Judge Roger Bennett, who is retiring Sept. 1.
“It’s been a long journey for me,” Stahnke, 56, said Friday afternoon. “I started in 1981 as a Clark County Sheriff’s Office custody officer.”
Stanhke didn’t have a college degree back then, but he wound up graduating from law school at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.
“It was a family decision, with two young kids, to go to night school at Lewis & Clark while I worked the day shift in the jail,” he said. “It was quite a challenge for my family.”
As a lawyer, he worked at English, Lane, Marshall, Barrar, Stahnke & Vanderwood.
Since becoming a Superior Court commissioner in 2007, Stahnke’s cases have included domestic violence protection orders, family law, and juvenile offenses.
“Daniel’s background in law enforcement, his private legal practice experience, and his years of service as a court commissioner will be tremendous assets to the Superior Court and Clark County residents,” Gregoire said in a news release. “I know he will do a great job and serve the court and county well.”
In the results of a preference poll released two weeks ago, the Clark County Bar Association overwhelmingly chose Stahnke over his five opponents for the position. He gathered 117 of the 237 votes cast. 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.
“We are very pleased with the decision of Governor Gregoire to appoint Daniel Stahnke to the Clark County Superior Court,” Presiding Judge Barbara Johnson said in the news release issued by the governor’s office.
“His excellent service as one of our commissioners has been appreciated by the litigants and lawyers that have appeared before him. I know he will continue this excellent work as our newest judge,” Johnson said.
Bennett, a Superior Court judge since 1990, announced May 10 that he was retiring to become a practicing attorney.
Superior Court judges have jurisdiction over felony criminal cases, civil cases involving more than $75,000, divorces, probate cases and juvenile court.
They earn $148,836 per year.