Judge hopefuls tout pro tem hours

Editor's note: This version includes post-deadline information received from King County District Court, showing that Karen Klein logged 66.50 hours of service as a King County District Court judge pro tem during the period of 1994-2001. That brings her documented pro tem service to 131.25 hours — 66.50 in King County District Court, 58 hours in King County Superior Court in 1995-96, and 6 hours 45 minutes in Bremerton Municipal Court since January 2011. Klein says her records show she has logged 1,200 hours as a pro tem judge in King and Kitsap counties. Records for service as Kitsap County District Court judge pro tem have been destroyed according to the Public Records Retention Schedule.

Jennifer Forbes provided documentation of nearly 1,100 hours she's logged as a municipal and district court judge pro tem in Kitsap, from 2007 to present. She claims she logged an estimated 100 or more hours as a municipal judge pro tem from 2005-06, but said she did not keep documentation of those hours. — Richard Walker

POULSBO — On her resume, in Q&As and in campaign appearances, Superior Court candidate Karen Klein has referred to her experience as a judge pro tem, over a 12-year period, in King County Superior and District courts.

But in a campaign flier, Klein states that she is the “only candidate with experience as a pro tem judge in Superior Court [12 years],” omitting reference to District Court.

The omission piqued the interest of a couple of residents, who said the flier implies those 12 years were spent only on the higher court bench. One of the residents questioned Klein about it in several emails Oct. 3-5.

The omission was “a typo,” Klein said Oct. 5.

“It was intended to mean both courts,” she said of the reference to those 12 years. “It’s a typo … There was no intent to mislead the public.”

Pro tem credentials are proving important, as Klein and Jennifer Forbes present themselves as better qualified than the other for the Kitsap County Superior Court position.

At the meeting of the North Kitsap Herald Community Advisory Board, Klein said she’s had 1,600 hours of service as a pro tem judge. But providing documentation of her pro tem service has been problematic for her.

According to her resume, she was a judge pro tem in Kitsap County District Court and in King County Superior and District courts from 1994-2006. She said she doesn’t know how many times she served on the Superior Court bench, but, “It was more than once,” she said Oct. 5.

According to King County Superior Court finance records, “we paid Ms. Klein for approximately 58 hours of pro tem services during the period of 1995-96,” said Linda K. Ridge, deputy chief administrative officer of the court. “We do not have records back to 1994, nor do we have records indicating she has served as a pro tem in King County Superior Court since 1996.”

Patti Kirkpatrick, administrative assistant in King County District Court, reported Friday, “According to our financial records, we paid Ms. Karen Klein for approximately 66.50 hours of pro tem services during the period of 1994-2001.”

Tuesday, Klein said she logged more than 58 hours in King County Superior Court. Thursday, she said she couldn’t find records related to her service there; she didn’t know the last year she served in King County, but said it was “before 2006.”

Klein said a review of her records — which were not available to the Herald at press time — show a total of 1,200 hours of pro tem experience in all courts, Kitsap and King.

Her latest pro tem experience was in Bremerton Municipal Court. She served twice as judge pro tem since January 2011, logging 6 hours 45 minutes, according to that court’s administrator.

Finding records doesn’t get any easier in Kitsap County. District Court administrator Maury Baker said pro tem judges are not employees, “Therefore, we do not have payroll data.”

Winnie Flores-Logan of the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office said of Klein’s records, “Ms. Karen Klein’s records have been destroyed according to the Public Records Retention Schedule.”

Forbes claims 1,200 hours of service as a pro tem judge in municipal and district courts. She is required by her law firm, McGavick Graves, to log the hours she serves as a judge. Her company’s records show she logged 1,035.95 hours on the bench from late 2007 to present. She estimates she put in at least 100 hours as a pro tem judge in Gig Harbor between 2005 and 2006, before she joined McGavick Graves. She said she has no record from those years. “This is a pure estimate,” she said of 2005-06.

According to her resume, Klein, 54, earned her JD degree from Boston University School of Law in 1982, and worked as a public defender in Wisconsin until 1984 when she moved to Washington state and joined The Defender Association. She was a defense attorney and civil litigator for a Seattle law firm from 1986-88, then opened her own practice. She was in private practice until 2004.

Klein lectured at the University of Washington School of Law in spring 2001. Since 2002, she has been a corporate general counsel — first, for a multimedia publishing company, then for Internet companies serving seniors.

According to her profile and her company bio, Forbes, 41, earned her JD degree from the Seattle University School of Law in 1996, served as a Kitsap County deputy prosecuting attorney from 1996-2006, then joined the law firm McGavick Graves in Tacoma as a shareholder. She’s been associated with McGavick Graves since then. Her areas of practice are criminal litigation, general civil litigation, land-use litigation, municipal and government litigation, personal injury, and real estate litigation.

According to her records, Forbes has logged 204.70 pro tem hours since 2007 in Gig Harbor Municipal Court, 481.95 since 2009 in Bremerton Municipal Court, 111.65 hours since 2010 in Bainbridge Island Municipal Court, and 237.65 hours in Kitsap County District Court (Flores-Logan said Forbes logged in 238.75 hours as District Court judge pro tem).

Forbes was recently named court commissioner for Bremerton Municipal Court. She’s on the list of pro tem judges in Jefferson County Superior Court, but has not been called to fill in there, she said. She is president of the Kitsap County Bar Association.

Top vote-getter in August primary
Forbes received 25,248 votes in the Aug. 7 primary. Klein received 10,081, Rob MacDermid of Silverdale received 8,647, and Bill Houser of Poulsbo received 7,271. MacDermid and Houser have endorsed Forbes in the Nov. 6 general election.

Forbes wants to make the Superior Court a paperless court, with electronic filing as in District Court; create alternative courts to handle cases involving veterans and people with mental health issues; and prepare the court for an expected increase in civil pro se cases, in which plaintiffs or respondents represent themselves.

“Court rules apply equally to pro se litigants,” she said. “We need to work to make sure the process and procedures are understandable.” She suggests having a separate court calendar for cases in which both sides are represented pro se.

Klein supports creation of a mental health court and a veterans court; using social media as a way to educate the public about the court system; and making Superior Court a paperless court.

Citing her law experience and community service, she said, “I have a passion for justice, to further serve the public.”

Superior Court judges: What they do
Superior Courts are courts of general jurisdiction. These courts have “exclusive jurisdiction for felony matters, real property rights, domestic relations, estate, mental illness, juvenile, and civil cases over $50,000.” In addition, these courts hear appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction.

Superior Court judges are elected on a non-partisan basis for a four-year term.
— Source: Judgepedia


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