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Supreme Court’s Chambers to retire; Bruce Hilyer joins Ladenburg in race

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 13, 2012 at 9:11 am with No Comments »
January 13, 2012 9:19 am

Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers will step down at the end of his term this year, opening the door for John Ladenburg and at least one rival.

King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer announced today he would seek Chambers’s seat. He and Ladenburg have formed committees to raise campaign money, which they can legally begin Sunday.

A third potential candidate is considering running: former Justice Richard Sanders, who lost his seat in a squeaker in 2010.

Chambers, 68, said Thursday he would not run for a third term.

Hilyer auditioned for the job just vacated by retiring Justice Gerry Alexander, and said he was a finalist. But Gov. Chris Gregoire chose another King County judge, Steven González.

Hilyer, a superior court judge for the past 12 years after stints in the county prosecutor’s office and private practice, said he has piled up endorsements from about 60 judges, including six former justices.

We’ll have a full story this weekend. Here’s our previous post on Ladenburg and here’s the press release from Hilyer:

King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer Announces Campaign for State Supreme Court

Former presiding judge and 2010 King County Bar Association “Judge of the Year”, rated “Exceptionally Well Qualified” by multiple bar associations, will bring record of impartial justice and experienced leadership to the state’s highest court’

Seattle – King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer, a respected trial judge selected by his peers as presiding judge for three years in thestate’s largest court system, today announced his campaign for Washington State Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Tom Chambers.

Judge Hilyer, who was appointed to the superior court by Governor Gary Locke in 2000, served as presiding judge from 2008-2011. In that role, he worked with fellow judges and management staff to formulate a strategic plan— the blueprint through which he helped steer the court through the most severe budget crisis in modern King County history.

Recognized as 2010 “Judge of the Year” by the 5,000 member King County Bar Association and rated “Exceptionally Well Qualified” by the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and 4 diverse bar rating groups, Judge Hilyer led King County to become the first court in Washington to implement a paperless electronic filing system that will save the public millions of dollars in future personnel and paper storage costs.

“The most important qualification for Justice is a track record of judicial experience, a clear and impartial respect for the law, and ability to clearly communicate opinions.” said Hilyer.  “While this court has established a strong record in many legal opinions, I am excited to bring administrative experience and commitment toimproving efficiency and innovation to the Court.”

Hilyer, who plans a full scale campaign kickoff in the spring to visit communities across Washington State, begins the campaign with strong endorsements and support from six retired justices, over 60 current and retired judges from every part of the state, as well as community leaders, legal professionals, and people from all walks of life.

“It’s gratifying to begin the campaign with such strong, diverse endorsements,” said Hilyer. “I am excited to run a true statewide campaign, reflecting my commitment to a judiciary that is independent of politics andaccountable to the law, the constitution, and the people.

A graduate with High Honors of UW law school, Hilyer will bring a diverse resume of legal experience to the Court, including working for NormMaleng as a King County criminal deputy prosecutor trying cases from DUI through First Degree Murder.  In 1982, he was appointed by Mayor Charles Royer to serve as his legal counsel. He began private practice in 1985 in a small firm, then moved in 1998 to work on complex civil litigation at Culp, Gutterson, and Grader.  In 1994, he opened his own firm where he continued in civil practice until he was appointed to the King County Superior Court.


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