PORT ANGELES — Another elected Clallam County Superior Court judge is resigning before his time is up — and another of the county’s three superior court judges could be resigning at the same time.
Judge Christoper Melly confirmed Tuesday that he is resigning his position effective Dec. 31, two years before the end of his four-year term.
Judge Erik Rohrer is running for West End-Port Angeles-area District Court 2 judge in the Nov. 6 general election and would have to resign, too, if he is elected to that position.
Melly was selected by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2014 to fill the vacancy of Brooke Taylor, who resigned with three years remaining on his four-year term.
Melly, 67, who won election in 2014 to fill out Taylor’s term and 2016 to a full term without opposition, informed friends and courthouse employees of his decision before making his announcement Tuesday.
He is resigning before the end of his term to ensure that an experienced Superior Court judge is serving in 2020 in case Judges Erik Rohrer and Brian Coughenour do not seek re-election.
“If we all go out at the end of our term, we would have three brand new judges in 2020,” Melly said.
“We really need some experience on the bench to guide new judges.”
Coughenhour said Wednesday he will not be running for re-election in 2020, when he will be 70 and at retirement age.
“I’m not going to bail out before my term ends unless something major happens or something physical,” he said.
Coughenour was appointed to the position in 2015 to replace George L. Wood, who resigned in May 2015 with 1½ years left on his term, and won election in 2016 against Dave Neupert.
Rohrer, the senior Superior Court judge, is running for the part-time District Court 2 position being vacated by John Doherty, who is not running for re-election.
Rohrer resigned as the elected District Court 2 judge in 2012 after winning election to Superior Court, defeating Melly, then won re-election without opposition in 2016.
Rohrer is running for District Court 2 judge against attorney John Black.
Melly said in a prepared statement that he also has tendered his resignation to Inslee, who will choose Melly’s successor to serve out Melly’s term.
Inslee will choose a successor to Rohrer if Rohrer wins the District Court position.
Rohrer said when he announced for the position that he will continue as a superior court judge if he loses.
Melly’s legal career includes 35 years as Clallam County deputy prosecuting attorney, district court commissioner and hearing examiner.
“I have endeavored to bring to the bench humanity, humility, respect, a willingness to learn and a sense of humor,” Melly said in a statement.
“I hope that I succeeded.”
Melly, a Marine corporal during the Vietnam War, said he is looking forward to leaving the bench.
He and his wife, Mary Lou, have two grown children.
“I’m going to spend some time volunteering, just enjoying retirement, not having to get up at the crack of dawn, not having to go in most weekends, not having to deal with the stress of the job,” he said.
“Longer term, I’d like to travel, like to learn new things.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].