Former prosecutor to be sworn in as judge

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

Former Civil Deputy Prosecutor Bernard Veljacic will be sworn in Friday as Clark County’s newest Superior Court judge.

Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Veljacic late last month to the bench’s Position 5 to succeed Judge Rich Melnick. Veljacic was selected out of a pool of five applicants.

The ceremony begins at 4 p.m. in Judge Barbara Johnson’s courtroom on the fourth floor of the Clark County Courthouse, 1200 Franklin St.

Directly after the ceremony, a public reception will be held at the Hilton Vancouver, 301 W. Sixth St.

Vejacic, 42, of Vancouver joined the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in 2001 and resigned to accept the governor’s appointment.

Veljacic founded and directed the Union Gospel Mission Legal Services Clinic (now Open Door Legal Services) in Seattle and is a current member of the state’s Clemency and Parole Board. He founded the legal services clinic in 1999, less than a year after graduating with a law degree from Seattle University.

The clinic serves homeless men and women in family law, immigration and debt cases.

Veljacic also served on the Clark County Diversity Advisory Committee and been a member of the Washington State Bar Association’s Character and Fitness Board, which makes decisions on whether bar applicants would be ethical and capable lawyers.

He succeeds Melnick, who was recently appointed to serve as a judge on the Division II Court of Appeals. The state’s Superior Court judges serve four-year terms and earn $151,809 per year, plus benefits. As an appointee, Veljacic will need to seek election in November to the last two years of Melnick’s four-year term.

The county has 10 Superior Court judge positions. Superior courts are the highest state trial courts, hearing felony cases and larger civil matters.