Eleven seek Clallam County Superior Court appointment

PORT ANGELES — Gov. Jay Inslee will appoint next month a new Clallam County Superior Court judge from 11 applicants, more than half of whom work for the prosecuting attorney’s office or Clallam Public Defender.

Inslee wants to select a successor to serve out the remaining two years of elected Judge Erik Rohrer’s four-year term by Jan. 14, Inslee’s spokeswoman Tara Lee said in a recent email.

Rohrer is quitting the full-time post to serve as West End District Court 2 judge, a part-time position he won over Forks attorney John Black in a tightly contested Nov. 6 general election race.

Incumbent Judge John Doherty did not run for re-election.

Inslee will choose from a pool that includes lawyers who applied for Judge Christopher Melly’s position.

Melly, who is resigning by this coming Monday with two years left in his term, will be replaced by Superior Court Commissioner Brent Basden, selected by Inslee in November.

The applicants include county Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin and Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Steven Johnson and April King, and Clallam Public Defender Director Harry Gasnick and Clallam Public Defender lawyers John and Suzanne Hayden.

They also include Administrative Law Judge Lisa Dublin, Cathy Marshall of the state Attorney General’s Office, Steve Robins of the Northwest Justice Project, and Port Angeles attorneys Lauren Erickson and Carol Mortensen.

Inslee’s legal and deputy counsels interviewed Gasnick, Robins, Mortensen, Dublin, Devlin, King and Johnson before recommending Basden, the only applicant interviewed by Inslee for the $172,771-a-year position.

The West End District Court 2 position pays $86,385 a year.

Inslee’s legal counsel and deputy legal counsel interviewed Basden, Gasnick, Robins, Mortensen, Dublin, Devlin, King and Johnson before recommending to Inslee that Basden replace Melly.

“We plan to interview any new candidates before the end of the year (we will not be re-interviewing past candidates, as we just spoke with them in November),” Lee said in her email.

“We’ll bring in a finalist to interview with the governor in early 2019, and we hope to announce Judge Rohrer’s replacement soon thereafter, hopefully in advance of his Jan. 14 departure.”

Positions held by Basden, Rohrer’s replacement and sitting Judge Brian Coughenour, elected to his first term in 2016, are up for election in 2020.

Superior Court judges adjudicate cases involving felonies, title or possession of real property, divorces and annulments, and legality of taxes and fines.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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