Ex-prosecutor to be sworn in

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photoBernard Veljacic

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

Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Veljacic in April to the bench's Position 5 to succeed Judge Rich Melnick. Veljacic was selected from 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.

State Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens will introduce Veljacic. Melnick will perform the investiture, and Clark County Superior Court Judge James Rulli will make comments.

After the ceremony, a public reception will be at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.

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.