Judge Bennett to retire from Superior Court

On bench since 1990, he plans to be a practicing attorney

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

Updated: May 10, 2011, 7:24 PM

 

Clark County Superior Court Judge Roger Bennett said Tuesday he has submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Bennett, 61, has been a judge since 1990.

Before taking office, he was the county’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor.

“With mixed emotions, I have decided to retire from the bench, leaving a vacancy as of Sept. 1, 2011, in order to embark upon a new career as a practicing attorney,” Bennett wrote in his May 6 letter to Gregoire.

Gregoire will appoint a replacement for Bennett, whose term does not expire until 2012.

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

Asked what type of law he plans to practice, Bennett was blunt: “I’m going to do whatever I feel like.”

He said he’ll stay away from complicated disputes such as the ones that land before him now. He currently has a contract dispute “and the pleadings are three-feet thick.”

He said he may do some criminal defense work, along with probate cases and mediation.

The last vacancy on the Superior Court bench was created by the retirement of Judge Robert Harris, who left office in December 2009.

District Court Judge Rich Melnick was appointed by Gregoire to replace Harris.

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 a year.