McCulloch sworn in as new municipal court judge for Bainbridge Island

New Bainbridge Island Municipal Court Judge Sara L. McCulloch gets a hug from her daughter after taking the oath of office at Wednesday’s Bainbridge Island City Council meeting. - Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review
New Bainbridge Island Municipal Court Judge Sara L. McCulloch gets a hug from her daughter after taking the oath of office at Wednesday’s Bainbridge Island City Council meeting.
— image credit: Cecilia Garza | Bainbridge Island Review

Surrounded by family, friends and a semi-circle of judges from across the state — Sara L. McCulloch was sworn in at this week’s city council meeting as the new judge for Bainbridge Island Municipal Court.

The swearing-in ceremony has been much anticipated. The Bainbridge Island City Council confirmed City Manager Doug Schulze’s nomination to appoint McCulloch at the Nov. 13 council meeting.

There was not an empty seat in city hall’s council chambers Wednesday as King County’s Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Mark Larson and departing Judge Kathryn Carruthers took the lectern to introduce McCulloch.

McCulloch was one of four finalists for the position. She has worked in criminal law for the last 13 years in King County since earning her juris degree at Boston College Law School in 2000. She received her bachelor of arts degree in political science from Western Washington University in 1995.

With her new role with the city of Bainbridge Island, McCulloch will be leaving the King County Prosecutor’s Office where she served as a senior deputy prosecuting attorney and senior specialist in sex offender registration related cases and issues.

“I know how many great candidates there were,” said Larson during the swearing-in ceremony.

“But I will tell you that my mentor, one of them, said that the best politics can always boil down to one thing: Do the right thing. Do the right thing, the rest will take care of itself. And even in a crowd full of great candidates, I’m telling you did the right thing,” Larson said. “You picked a tremendous candidate.”

Twelve people applied for the judge’s post. City officials cited McCulloch’s long history of public service as a prosecutor, domestic violence advocate

and volunteer and her experience handling thousands of criminal cases with the county prosecutor’s office as reasons for her nomination.

“I have great confidence that Judge Sara McCulloch will serve Bainbridge Island with professionalism, integrity and a fair and consistent application of the law,” Schulze said.

McCulloch will take over the duties of Judge Kathryn Carruthers next month.

Carruthers has served as Bainbridge Island’s municipal court judge since 2006, and informed the city earlier this year that she would not be seeking a third term. Her current term expires Dec. 31.

“The American Bar Association defines judicial temperament this way: ‘As having compassion, decisiveness, open mindedness, sensitivity, courtesy, patience, freedom from bias and commitment to equal justice,’” Carruthers said.

“Now these are certainly all qualities shared by our finest judges, but a good judicial temperament is more than a list of admirable attributes. And it’s not just having a great personality, either.”

Carruthers continued, “A judicial temperament is an abiding commitment to justice and it is demonstrated best by judges who show respect to everyone they interact with, inside and outside the courtroom. I’m confident that Sara has that deep commitment to justice and that the citizens who come before her in the future will place their faith and trust in our court in great part because she will be respectful of all who come before her.”

McCulloch took the oath of office under the direction of Carruthers.

McCulloch was nearly overcome with emotion as she thanked Schulze for the position, and took a moment to wipe away tears before also thanking friends who had come to celebrate with her.

“I take the position and the oath that I’ve taken tonight very seriously, and I will do my very best to be a fair and compassionate judge operating within the bounds of the law and using my discretion wisely and treating all people who come through the court with respect,” McCulloch said in her concluding speech.


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