Lawyers' poll ranks Schienberg as top pick for judge

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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Clark County Superior Court Commissioner Carin Schienberg is local lawyers' favorite among nine candidates who have applied to succeed retired Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard, according to results of a Clark County Bar Association preference poll.

The bar association sent the poll results Thursday to Gov. Jay Inslee, who will appoint a successor in coming weeks. Woolard retired last month citing health problems related to her epilepsy.

The new judge will have to stand for re-election in November to retain office.

Schienberg received 36.4 percent of bar association member votes as the preferred candidate. Private attorney Suzan Clark was the second choice with 30 percent of votes. The other candidates received votes as follows: real estate attorney Michael Simon, 18 percent; Deputy Prosecutor Bernard Veljacic, 5.6 percent; private attorney Robert Vukanovich, 3.6 percent; private attorney Christopher Ramsey, 2 percent; private attorney Louis Byrd, 1.6 percent; James Gilligan, a hearings judge with the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, less than 1 percent; and private attorney Paulette Burgess, no votes.

The poll had 250 lawyers participating.

In addition to casting votes for their choice for judge, they also rated the candidates on legal ability, judicial temperament, integrity and relevant legal experience.

Clark received the highest ratings in all categories, except "relevant legal experience" for which Schienberg received the highest marks.

Schienberg, 56, has served as a full-time commissioner since 2003.

Clark, 50, of Vancouver, is president of the bar association. Her legal career has spanned Oregon and Washington and includes civil, criminal, prosecution, defense, appellate and family law. She also has worked occasionally as a pro tem judge since 1999.

The poll is just one of several factors the governor will weigh in selecting the new judge, according to Inslee's website.

The state's Superior Court judges serve four-year terms and earn $148,832 per year, plus benefits. They'll receive a pay bump to $151,809 per year effective Sept. 1.