Panel to hear from district judge hopefuls

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners today will interview three candidates who are vying to replace outgoing Forks-based District Court No. 2 Judge Erik Rohrer.

A five-member screening committee recommended three candidates to be interviewed: Richard Petersen, John Doherty and Cathy Marshall.

Commissioner Mike Doherty, who is John Doherty’s brother, recused himself from Monday’s discussion and will not be involved in the interviews.

Forks Mayor Bryon Monohon was appointed as commissioner pro-tem to fill in for Mike Doherty.

Commissioners must appoint a new judge to preside over the West End court until Rohrer’s current term expires in 2014.

Rohrer, who defeated county Hearing Examiner Chris Melly in the November election for Superior Court judge, will be sworn in to the elevated bench Jan. 7.

State Supreme Court Judge Susan Owens, a former West End District Court judge, will officiate the 2 p.m. ceremony in Superior Court in Port Angeles.

Rohrer, 54, has presided over District Court No. 2 since 2001. He will replace retiring Judge Ken Williams.

The county Human Resources department declined to provide the age, occupation and hometowns of the three candidates for confidentiality reasons under the advice of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Calls to Petersen and John Doherty, a former District Court 1 judge, were not immediately returned.

Marshall, 58, said in a telephone interview that she is an attorney and the section chief for the Attorney General’s Office in Port Angeles. The Prosser native resides in Sequim.

District Court judge is a nonpartisan position open to qualified lawyers who live anywhere in the county.

The appointed judge must reside on the West End in order to run in the 2014 election.

A screening committee met Dec. 5 to review the applications and recommended the three candidates for the county commissioners to interview.

The committee was comprised of West End Sheriff’s Sgt. Brian King, District Court 2 staffer Sabrina Bees, county Human Resources Director-designate Rich Sill, Rohrer and Monohon.

The open interviews will take place in the commissioners’ board room (160) at the county courthouse in Port Angeles.

Petersen will be interviewed at 1:15 p.m., followed by Doherty at 2 p.m. and Marshall at 2:45 p.m.

Commissioners will convene in executive session at 3:30 p.m. to discus the qualifications of the candidates.

The board must reconvene in a open session to appoint a judge.

Commissioners directed Human Resources Director Marge Upham and Sill to develop a list of 10 questions for each candidate to answer.

The interview process was vetted by Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols.

“I’m very cognizant that this is an office of public trust and responsibility,” Commissioner Jim McEntire said.

“We need to be, as a commission, punctilious in the observance of our required process.”

He added: “I’m just trying to make sure that we step through this in a squeaky clean way.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 17. 2012 5:17PM
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