Port Angeles attorney becomes Clallam Superior Court’s first female judge

Lauren Erickson

Lauren Erickson

PORT ANGELES — Gov. Jay Inslee named on Tuesday Port Angeles attorney and former Port Angeles City Council member Lauren Erickson as Clallam County’s first female Superior Court judge in the court’s 118-year history.

“It’s a very nice moment for Clallam County, and I’m proud to be part of it,” said Erickson, 63, a Lynnwood-area resident who plans to move to Port Angeles.

She said she has too many jobs to unravel herself from to immediately replace outgoing Judge Erik Rohrer, scheduled to leave by Jan. 14 to take office as West End District Court 2 judge, a position he won in the Nov. 6 general election with two years left on his term.

She operates a solo law practice two days a week in Port Angeles and represents parents in state dependency matters.

She also serves as an administrative law judge pro tem in the state Office of Administrative Hearings in Tacoma.

And she’s a land-use hearing examiner for the cities of Port Angeles and Bellevue, and is a presiding officer for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

Inslee made Erickson’s appointment effective by Jan. 31.

Erickson will earn $172,571 annually until July 1, when her salary will increase to $194,574.

Erickson said Tuesday she does not know when she will begin hearing cases.

“I have to disentangle myself from a lot of things,” she said.

Erickson also is a former deputy prosecuting attorney for Kitsap and Clallam counties, served as a Clallam County District Court commissioner and judge pro tem, and ran unsuccessfully for Clallam County prosecuting attorney in 2010.

Erickson was elected to the City Council in 1999 and 2003, resigning in 2006 for personal reasons, she said.

Erickson said she will run for re-election in November 2020, when the court’s other two judges, newly appointed Brent Basden and Brian Coughenour, elected in 2016, also are up for re-election.

Basden has said he will run again.

Inslee chose Erickson from 11 applicants, including five other women.

“Lauren has a wealth of experience in both civil and criminal law, and in addition to serving as an advocate, she has built a strong track record as a neutral decision maker,” Inslee said in a prepared statement.

“Her vast experience will be an asset to the court and people of Clallam County.”

Erickson was born and raised in Seattle, graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1973, the University of Washington in 1977 and Seattle University School of Law in 1989.

Her mother was a stay-at-home mom and her father a bank executive, she said.

Erickson lived in Port Angeles from 1995-2008, and since 2010 has been commuting to Port Angeles, she said.

She is an administrative law judge three days a week, traveling throughout Western Washington, she said.

A lawyer her whole life, Erickson did not want to discuss why she is drawn to practicing law or why she wanted to become a Superior Court judge.

“I never have answers to those kinds of questions,” she said.

“I wish I could give good answers, but I can’t.”

Inslee interviewed her for about a half-hour on Monday, asking her questions about the court system and how she might improve it.

At the end of the meeting, Inslee said he wanted to offer her the job.

“I said yes, immediately,” she recalled.

“I was extremely happy.

“This is going to be a very challenging job, but I think my experience makes me up to the challenge.”

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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