Spokane’s newest appeals court judge is a chess player and a hard working Spokane County deputy prosecutor with a wry sense of humor who has specialized in appellate work since joining the prosecutor’s office in 1990.
Gov. Chris Gregoire announced the appeals court appointment of Kevin M. Korsmo during a Thursday trip to Spokane.
The Washington Court of Appeals Division III courtroom was crowded with prosecutors, public defenders, judges, members of the Spokane Chess Club and family members who came to witness Korsmo’s appointment.
Gregoire told the crowd she agonizes over her judicial appointments in an effort to get the highest caliber of people on the bench. “Kevin, in my opinion, provides the intellect, judgment and moral character that the bench deserves,” the governor said.
Korsmo, 51, promised Gregoire two things: He’d never embarrass her – “a side benefit of having a boring life,” he said to laughter – and he’d work very hard. “I take my work seriously. I don’t take myself seriously,” Korsmo said.
He’ll start work as a judge next week. Korsmo replaces former Washington Court of Appeals Judge Debra Stephens, the fast-rising Spokane attorney Gregoire recently chose to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court.
Other candidates for the appeals court job included Spokane attorney Louis Rukavina, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen and Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Brian O’Brien. Korsmo said Eitzen and O’Brien have offered to work on his judicial election campaign this fall – the final year of an expiring six-year term. “Kevin has a wonderful disposition for this type of work,” O’Brien said Thursday. “This is not your usual political appointment.”
“He’s brilliant,” said Deputy Prosecutor David Stevens. “It’s a loss for us – and a huge gain for the state.”
Korsmo graduated from the University of Washington Law School and has practiced law for 25 years. He has a wife, Barbara Korsmo, and four daughters and coaches chess at Gonzaga Prep. He has argued 50 cases before the Washington Supreme Court and has supervised more than 2,000 appeals.
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