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Washington’s chief justice will step down in 2010, but stay a member of The Supremes

Post by Joe Turner on Sep. 29, 2009 at 11:26 am with No Comments »
September 29, 2009 3:00 pm

Chief Justice Gerry Alexander announced today he will step aside in January and let one of his colleagues take the top job on the Washington Supreme Court, but Alexander is staying on the bench through the year.

He turns 75 in April 2010 (in case anyone wants to get him a present) and the state constitution says justices must step down at the end of the calendar year in which they turn 75. gerry_alexander-small


Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, the longest-serving Chief Justice in Washington state history, has announced that he will step down as Chief Justice at the beginning of 2010. Alexander will continue to serve the last two years of his term as an associate justice, retiring at the end of 2011, the year in which he will reach the mandatory retirement age for judges in Washington.

Members of the Washington Supreme Court unanimously elected Alexander to a third term as the state’s top judge in 2008, making Alexander’s tenure more than twice as long as anyone else in state history.

“It has been an incredible privilege and an honor to serve as the state’s Chief Justice for the past nine years,” said Alexander. “I am immensely proud of our Court, and I feel this is the perfect time to turn this position over to one of my able colleagues.”

Alexander came to the decision to turn over the Chief Justice position earlier this year and informed his colleagues of his decision in early September.

“Having served in this position since 2001, I know how beneficial it will be for the Court and the broader judicial community to have a seamless transition for this leadership role,” said Alexander. “During the final two years of my term, I look forward to continuing to serve as a justice and helping our newly-selected chief in any way that I can.”

The Chief Justice serves as the Court’s chief spokesperson, presides over the court’s public hearings and serves as the administrative head of the state’s judicial branch. The Chief Justice also chairs the Board for Judicial Administration (BJA), the policy-setting group of the state judiciary; the Washington State Bench-Bar-Press Committee and a number of other judicial organizations.

The new Chief Justice will be selected by an internal election of the members of the Court in early November, with a swearing-in to the position to be held in January. The newly-elected Chief Justice will fill the remainder of Alexander’s current term.

During his tenure as Chief Justice, Alexander has led an effort to improve the funding structure of our state’s trial courts, public defense and civil indigent defense systems. He is the Court’s 52nd Chief Justice, succeeding retired Justice Richard P. Guy in 2001 for the position.

Elected to an open seat on the Supreme Court in 1994, Alexander joined the Court with more than two decades of trial and appellate court experience. He served as a superior court judge for Thurston and Mason Counties from 1973 to 1984, and as a judge for Division Two of the Court of Appeals from 1985 to 1994.

A full biography is available online at www.courts.wa.gov

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