Local news

Vacant judge’s seat draws 18 hopefuls

Interview process will be shortened to 30 minutes

Eighteen lawyers want a vacant Spokane County District Court judge’s seat – so many that interviews will be shortened.

The opening was created July 1 when Judge Richard White retired after 20 years on the bench.

County commissioners agreed this week to let a local bar association committee trim interviews from an hour to 30 minutes.

Bar officials said some of the 11 members of the Judicial Evaluation Panel might not be able to participate in all the interviews if each lasted an hour.

Commissioner Todd Mielke was concerned about the quality of half-hour interviews and suggested 45 minutes, but Commissioners Mark Richard and Al French said they were comfortable with 30 minutes.

The bar committee is to present its evaluation of the candidates, without ranking them, by Sept. 16. Commissioners tentatively plan to deliberate on Sept. 19 and make their decision on Oct. 25.

Here are the applicants:

Michael Beyer, 60, who has been in private practice for 32 years. He said he was on the payroll of Team Spirit America for six months in 2008 “for litigation only,” and quit representing the company on retainer this June after it stopped paying him. The payday loan firm has been managed by Colbert resident Doris Nelson, whose Little Loan Shoppe was accused of fraud when it filed for bankruptcy in 2009 with debts in excess of $100 million.

Randy Brandt, 59, a state administrative law judge since he was laid off in December 2009 after six years as a District Court commissioner. Previously in private practice.

Chris Bugbee, 44, a criminal defense attorney who previously was a deputy prosecutor and ran unsuccessfully for prosecutor in last year’s primary election.

Brad Chinn, 63, a former District Court commissioner who was laid off in a downsizing, and now is a state administrative law judge.

Harvey Dunham, 60, a solo practitioner who failed to win election after appointment as a District Court judge in 2005. A bid for the Court of Appeals last year also failed.

David Hubert, 57, works in the civil division of the Spokane County prosecutor’s office and previously was in private practice.

Donald Kellman, 57, a solo practitioner who also is executive director of the Spokane New Car Dealers Association.

Debby Kurbitz, 51, administrative attorney in the Spokane County prosecutor’s office, overseeing personnel and budget issues.

Mark Laiminger, 53, who has been a Spokane County deputy prosecutor for 24 years. He ran for a District Court seat in 2006 and lost.

Richard Leland, 58, who has mostly been in private practice since 1990. He was a city of Spokane assistant public defender for about a year.

Julie McKay, 45, who has been in private practice for 20 years.

Michael Nelson, 60, a Spokane County deputy prosecutor; previously in private and corporate practice, and formerly an assistant Spokane prosecutor and Salt Lake City police officer.

Tim O’Brien, 50, Spokane County’s labor relations director. Previously, he was a deputy prosecutor and community affairs manager in the prosecutor’s office, and was in private practice.

Gloria Ochoa, 38, is in private practice and previously was a Benton County deputy prosecutor.

Lynden Smithson, 39, a Spokane assistant city prosecutor; previously in private practice.

William Reinken, 48, Spokane’s chief assistant prosecutor; previously was executive assistant and staff attorney for the Spokane Home Builders Association.

Robert Seines, 57, who has been in private practice since 1986 except for 8 ½ months in a District Court commissioner’s position that was eliminated.

Greg Weber, 44, a state administrative law judge; previously a solo practitioner, an assistant state attorney general and an Okanogan County deputy prosecutor.

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