Clark County Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard, who has been on paid medical leave since Nov. 20, will retire at the end of March.
Woolard, 68, wrote a letter Monday to Gov. Jay Inslee indicating she would retire in part due to health reasons. According to her attorney, she is suffering from side effects of epilepsy medications.
“While I greatly both enjoyed and felt privileged to serve as a judge, some health issues have also contributed to my decision to retire,” Woolard wrote. “I would be honored to assist in any way I can to enable you to find a lawyer to fill my position.”
She has been on the bench since July 2000.
Last fall Woolard went on a six-week medical leave because side effects from a prescription for her epilepsy were interfering with her work. That was extended on Jan. 1.
In December, presiding Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson told The Columbian that Woolard’s absence has made it difficult to meet the needs of the court’s caseload.
Woolard’s cases have been reassigned to the court’s other nine judges and will continue to be until the governor appoints a replacement.
Attorneys who would like to succeed her must apply to the governor’s office. Generally the Clark County Bar Association conducts a preference poll of the candidates and makes its recommendation to the governor, who has the final say.
Because judges are elected, the new judge will have to stand for election to retain the office. Superior Court judges serve four-year terms.
Woolard was appointed in July 2000.
Superior Court judges in Washington currently earn $148,832 per year, plus benefits, and will receive a pay increase to $151,809 per year effective Sept. 1.