PORT ANGELES — Lauren Erickson made history when she was sworn in as the first female Superior Court judge to serve on the bench in Clallam County.
“We’ve all realized this is an important moment and I am thrilled to be the first female Superior Court judge,” Erickson said after she was sworn in and robed Monday.
“This is a big deal. Women deserve this.”
Erickson said that 50 percent of the population — women — deserve representation on the bench. She said that while 37 percent of judges in Washington state are women, the majority of those women serve in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Erickson to the bench last month, making her the first female Superior Court judge in the court’s 118-year history.
She has replaced Judge Erik Rohrer, who was elected to the District Court 2 judgeship, a position he won in the Nov. 6 general election. He had two terms left.
Before taking on her new position, Erickson operated a solo law practice in Port Angeles where she represented parents in state dependency matters. She also served a pro-tem administrative law judge in the state Office of Administrative Hearings in Tacoma.
State Supreme Court Justice Susan Owens, who swore Erickson in Monday, offered Erickson advice as she assumes her new role.
Owens told Erickson to always be prepared for surprises.
“When we first met … neither you nor I would imagine this day possible, but life as a lawyer can and does surprise you, said Owens, who served as a district court judge in Clallam County for 19 years.
“Just when you think you know what’s going on, there will be many things that surprise you.”
Owens said she held the positions of the only elected female judge in Clallam County for many years.
“I’m very happy to turn that over to you, because you will be elected in November — we’ll see to that,” Owens said.
Erickson also received advice from all several judges serving in Clallam County and one who recently resigned.
Former Superior Court Judge Christopher Melly told Erickson the learning curve is long and steep. Melly’s last day on the bench was Dec. 31.
“I had a judge tell me once it takes 20 years to get comfortable doing Superior Court work,” he said. “What you need to learn from this job is a phenomenal amount.”
Judges Brent Basden and Dave Newport each told Erickson to be herself.
Judge Brian Coughenour, who was presiding over the occasion, said that before he went to court he looked over the photo of the 16 judges who served Clallam County Superior Court.
He described them all as older men who may or may not be missing some hair.
“Today we have a female Superior Court judge in the County of Clallam and I am so pleased and happy,” Coughenour said.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.