PORT TOWNSEND — Local attorney Noah Harrison has announced he is running for Jefferson County District Court judge.
He hopes to succeed Judge Jill Landes, who announced in January that she will not seek a fourth four-year term in the Nov. 6 general election.
Harrison, 43, is a city native and opened his law practice in Port Townsend in 2005 after working in Kitsap and Jefferson County prosecutors’ offices. His private practice includes a wide variety of criminal and civil litigation, he said.
Harrison is currently a Jefferson County District Court judge pro-tem, as well as a Clallam County District Court judge pro-tem.
He served as Jefferson County Superior Court commissioner under the late Judge Craddock Verser, who Harrison considers a mentor.
In these roles, Harrison has presided over civil and criminal trials, as well as Mental Health Court, Drug Court and juvenile matters.
He serves as a substitute when Landes is unavailable or unable to hear a case.
“Recently, I became approved to be a Kitsap County pro-tem judge. I’m always open to learning from different courts to broaden my horizons. Having a different perspective makes me a better lawyer,” he said.
Filing week is May 14-18 for candidates for district court judge, District 3 county commissioner, and county sheriff, assessor, auditor, clerk, prosecuting attorney-coroner and treasurer.
Continuing the success of the Mental Health Court instituted by Landes is one of the initiatives that Harrison intends to support.
“How you approach alcoholism and drug addiction can really matter in a small community like this. Until they’re ready to change, or they’ve reached their lowest low, all you can do is give them the tools to change,” he said.
“There’s only so much you can do as a judge as you balance justice for the victim and for the state versus the idea of punishment and rehabilitation for the defendant.”
Harrison said he believes in using a community service sentence instead of fines and fees in some instances, especially when the defendant has limited financial resources.
He said he also wants to modernize the court by adding an electronic filing system and use technology in the courtroom to benefit the judge as well as the jury and attorneys.
District court judges adjudicate traffic infractions, civil claims of up to $100,000, misdemeanors punishable with fines of no more than $5,000 and up to one year in jail, and fraud in the sale, purchase and exchange of personal property.
The district court judge position will pay $164,313 as of Sept. 1.
Harrison is a graduate of Port Townsend High School, class of 1992. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington and his law degree from Seattle University School of Law. He also attended and graduated from the Washington State Judicial College.
Harrison has been active in the community, serving as president and the longest-serving member of the Jefferson County YMCA, and is a board member of the Olympic Peninsula YMCA. He has also been involved with the Port Townsend Education Foundation.
“I moved back to specifically raise my family here. I love this area and I like seeing the people that I’ve helped,” he said.
Harrison said he is married to his high school sweetheart, Caitlin, chief human resources officer at Jefferson Healthcare, and has three daughters — Leah, Juliet and Claire.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]