PORT ANGELES — District Court 1 Judge Rick Porter will leave the public confines of the Clallam County courthouse Friday before traveling to a secret location somewhere in the world for 60 days while Port Angeles attorney and judge pro-tem Dave Neupert takes his place.
Porter, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force reserve, is a member of the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps.
He said Monday he will be advising a wing commander on operations law.
“You are the wing commander’s attorney, if they have operations going on and need legal advice,” Porter said.
Porter said he is versed in topics such as rules of engagement in a war zone.
“Any time you work in a war room, there will be legal staff to make sure everything is being done within the laws of armed conflict,” he said.
“As an example, you make sure they don’t violate any laws of war.”
Porter, a 27-year veteran of the JAG Corps, can’t even tell his wife, Dorthe, where he’s going.
“It’s all classified,” he said.
“I’m not saying I’m going into a conflict.
“I can’t tell you what I’m going to do, but there’s lots of reasons why you need lawyers.”
Porter, a four-term jurist who will not be running for re-election Nov. 6, said Neupert, Porter’s primary judge pro tem, was a natural choice to replace him for two months.
“He’s simply the best choice for me to pick,” Porter said.
“He’s got a tremendous amount of experience and always does an outstanding job when I have asked him to sit on the bench.”
Porter said Neupert will be paid $75 an hour to adjudicate misdemeanor cases except on Tuesdays, when Neupert works part-time as general counsel for the Peninsula Housing Authority.
Judge pro tem Larry Freedman, a Sequim lawyer, will oversee the Tuesday calendar, Porter said.
Neupert will serve in place of Porter on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Port Angeles lawyer Stan Myers is judge pro tem for civil matters on Thursdays.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve in his absence,” Neupert said Monday, adding he also has been a court commissioner and attended the state Judicial College for district court judges.
“I certainly have the experience,” he said.
Neupert said he is mulling over running for Porter’s position in the Nov. 6 election.
Filing week is May 14-18.
“I’ve been contacted by folks who are interested in seeing me run,” he said.
“I’m giving it my full and due consideration and expect to have an announcement pretty soon.”
Neupert ran unsuccessfully in November 2016 for county Position 2 Superior Court judge against Brian Coughenour.
Porter said the geographic area covered by District Court 1 stretches west from Blyn to west of Joyce.
The full-time District Court 1 judge position will pay $164,313 as of Sept. 1.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.