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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Verdict is in: Spokane judges enjoy Barbie likeness

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 8, 2019

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese plans on purchasing a Judge Barbie for her office – but don’t expect her to start sporting the heels like the doll wears.

Mattel revealed Tuesday the “Barbie Judge Doll,” its 2019 Barbie Career of the Year doll, and female judges in Spokane have been sharing articles about the doll on each others’ social media accounts.

The dolls are available for $12.99 in stores. Other Career of the Year Barbies include a film director, game developer, paleontologist and last year’s robotics engineer.

“I want to know what happened to curvy Barbie, because I know at one time somebody had sent me way back, when that Barbie was designing, more of a curvy Barbie not the model Barbie,” Plese said. “ It’s not practical to wear those heels, (but) I’m sure there are some judges that do.”

Plese said one of the posts she saw was from Ellen Clark, a retired Spokane County Superior Court Judge. Clark was happy that a version of the doll has dark hair, and reflected on how far female judges have come in Spokane since she joined Superior Court as a commissioner in 1993. At the time, there was one female judge and one female commissioner. Currently, five of the 12 Superior Court judges are women, and five of the seven commissioners are women.

“That’s been a huge improvement and I think the next generation is going to benefit from that,” Clark said.

Mattel chose judge because only 33% of sitting U.S. state judges are women, according to USA Today. Though women are the majority on the Washington Supreme Court, men outnumber women in every other state court.

Both Plese and Clark became judges almost by accident. In the case of Clark, a young man challenged her, goading her into taking the LSATs by claiming she couldn’t score as high as he could.

“When I got the scores I said, ‘Well, that’s good … I still don’t want to to go to law school,’” Clark said. “He said, ‘Well, that’s good, because if you did, you couldn’t beat my grades,’ so then I had to prove him wrong on that point, too.”

Once she finished her first year of law school and he was newly graduated, they married. In Plese’s case, she only attended law school because she wanted to go into the Secret Service, and she heard that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was only hiring lawyers and certified public accountants. She shifted her focus to judge while working as a bailiff during law school.

“I saw how exciting it was,” Plese said. “I also told the judge, ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to be a judge one day.’ So I think he laughed at me a couple times, ‘OK, you’re not even done with law school and you’re going right to being a judge.’”

Plese said she likes participating in kids’ career days to give them a different picture of her profession.

“If you ask kids, ‘What’s your typical judge?’ I usually get old, mean, gray hair,” Plese said. “So, to go out and kind of say, ‘Hey, no, there’s different kinds of judges.’ ”

Clark noticed that Judge Barbie’s collar bears a striking similarity to Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s collar.

“She is an amazing woman,” Clark said. “She should be an inspiration to anybody who wants to go into law.”

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