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News / Clark County News

Clark County Jail inmate makes first appearance for allegedly threatening to kill a Superior Court judge

Suspect was previously convicted eight times of intimidating a judge

By Dylan Jefferies, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 16, 2024, 7:26pm
3 Photos
Judge David Gregerson speaks from the bench in his courtroom at the Clark County Courthouse in 2023.
Judge David Gregerson speaks from the bench in his courtroom at the Clark County Courthouse in 2023. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

A Clark County Jail inmate who has been convicted of intimidating a judge eight times is now accused of threatening to kill a Clark County Superior Court judge. According to court records, he also sent a threatening letter to another judge on the bench.

James R. Burnett, 40, appeared Thursday in Superior Court on an allegation of intimidating a judge.

He allegedly sent a graphically violent letter addressed to Judge David Gregerson and his family.

Burnett, who is serving time at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, also has a pending case for second-degree escape. That charge stems from alleged Washington Department of Corrections supervision violations, court records show.

In that case, he sent a threatening letter to Clark County Superior Court Judge Suzan Clark.

“I’ll see you soon Clark,” Burnett wrote May 8, according to court records. “Just like this country you’ll come to an end.”

He was transported to the Clark County Jail on a transfer order from the Department of Corrections so that he could make a first appearance, according to court documents.

He is being held without bail and will be transported back to the Washington Corrections Center after the completion of further proceedings.

Judge John Fairgrieve scheduled his arraignment for May 23.

‘I’ll be the Judge’

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday learned about the letter addressed to Gregerson. The letter was first retrieved by Gregerson’s judicial assistant Rhonda Stockman, who notified authorities after sharing the letter with Gregerson, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Burnett wrote the letter on the back of a Clark County Jail Services Inmate Request Form. In it, he threatened to torture and kill Gregerson and his family, the affidavit states.

Burnett wrote that it would be “just like court,” only that he would “be the Judge, Jury, and goddamn Exicutioner.” He added that if he could not get to Gregerson himself, he would contact people in the outlaw motorcycle clubs The Gypsy Jokers and Free Souls, as well as the Cali Cartel, according to the affidavit.

In the letter, Burnett also threatened to shoot a detective in Thurston County, the affidavit states. In 2011, while Burnett was serving an eight-year sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla for trying to hire a hit man to kill a Thurston County judge, he allegedly sent the judge another letter threatening to kill her, according to a 2012 story by The Associated Press.

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He signed the letter to Gregerson “AR” with a swastika next to the signature, according to the affidavit.

Gregerson told authorities he wants to be notified if Burnett is ever released, according to court documents. Gregerson also said he does not recall having any involvement with Burnett in his courtroom or in any of his cases.

However, Clark and Fairgrieve have interacted with Burnett in court, according to court documents.

An arrest warrant for Burnett issued on Feb. 27 for the escape charge includes Gregerson’s and Clark’s names.

Gregerson’s judicial assistant informed sheriff’s deputies that Gregerson reviewed warrants on that date, and he likely verbally authorized his name to be written on the warrant.