Clallam County Bar Association rates judge candidates

Attorneys score incumbent Erickson above challenger Dublin

PORT ANGELES — Lauren Erickson, the incumbent Clallam County Superior Court jurist, outdistanced administrative law judge Lisa Dublin, her general election challenger, in all four categories of a recent Clallam County Bar Association survey that judged the candidates.

“There does tend to be a view from the bar that would suggest that, at least, Erickson has the ability and has the experience to continue doing the job,” bar association President Doug Kresl said Wednesday.

The four-year position is the only countywide race on the general election ballot. The Clallam County Public Utility District does not include Port Angeles.

Ballots were mailed to voters Oct. 14 and are due in drop boxes or at the Auditor’s Office by 8 p.m. Nov. 3, Election Day.

Erickson, who was rated well qualified across the board, was pleased with the survey results.

“It’s important to me, because this is our local bar association,” the Port Angeles resident said.

“It’s not some specialty bar on the I-5 corridor.”

Dublin, a Tacoma-area state administrative law judge, dismissed the results, which put her just under the threshold of “qualified” in three of four categories.

In a prepared statement, the Sequim resident twice criticized the survey as “subjective,” saying it generated “a predictable outcome.”

Dublin, who declined to be interviewed Wednesday about the survey, touted judicial ratings given to her by five Seattle-based bar associations in which she was determined as “well qualified” to serve as Superior Court judge.

She said that included the Washington Women Lawyers, which rated Erickson as qualified, Dublin said.

Fifty-five of the Clallam bar association’s 81 dues-paying members, mostly practicing lawyers from Port Angeles and Sequim, rated the candidates on judgment-objectivity, demeanor-temperament, competence-experience and overall performance, using a scale of one to four.

One meant unqualified, two qualified, three well qualified and four exceptionally well qualified.

Scores were added up and averaged for a single rating for each candidate in each category.

Erickson had a 3.22 for judgment-objectivity, 3.25 for demeanor-temperament, 3.16 for competence-experience and 3.25 for overall performance.

Dublin had a 2.02 for judgment-objectivity, 1.94 for demeanor-temperament, 1.82 for competence-experience and 1.98 for overall performance.

Kresl said the survey has some gray areas.

“If someone is 1.98, I would say it’s really close to, if not a two, which is qualified for the position,” he said.

“With Lauren, she was viewed as solidly well qualified. [Lisa] was viewed as qualified, but maybe barely. That’s the nature of rounding numbers.”

Kresl said Dublin and Erickson were questioned by bar association membership at a forum Oct. 2 that can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-BarForum.

Questions focused on criminal law experience.

“The ability to understand the arguments and understand the rules of evidence and make accurate and quick decisions on those things is important,” Kresl said.

Erickson is a former Clallam County deputy prosecuting attorney and former Port Angeles City Council member.

She was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee in January 2019 to replace former Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer, who had resigned. Dublin was an applicant for Rohrer’s position.

Dublin — since 2018 the Tacoma division chief administrative law judge with the State Office of Administrative Hearings and before that, administrative law judge since 2010 — said she has represented clients in criminal cases in state district and municipal court, and in civil matters, in federal courts.

Dublin has represented clients in criminal cases in state district and municipal court, but not in federal district and federal appeals courts, where she represented clients in civil matters.

Dublin said Wednesday she last worked with a Clallam County client in 2003, doing pretrial case work for a business while practicing employment law. She declined to identify the business.

“It was legal advice, it was consulting,” she said, adding she did not appear before a judge in Clallam County on the matter.

Kresl did not disagree that the survey is subjective.

“This poll is based on each individual member’s assessment and what they think,” he said.

“It’s different than a certification process where everyone is reviewing exactly the same information.”

Dublin said in her prepared statement that she had not wanted to be part of the survey.

She and Erickson were evaluated “based on their answers to a relatively light questionnaire, and the members’ personal knowledge of the candidates,” she said.

“Given the inherent conflicts of interest, and risk of misleading results to the voting public, I advised Bar President Doug Kresl that I chose not to participate.”

Kresl said the online forum was scheduled to accommodate her concerns about not knowing the bar association well enough.

He said the questionnaire Dublin is objecting to is the same one the governor’s office used, and which Dublin filled out, to apply for the Superior Court position vacated by Brian Coughenour on June 1 and which Inslee filled with Simon Barnhart.

Kresl said Dublin finished “near the bottom” of the five candidates for Coughenour’s position in the bar association’s survey of its members, which Inslee employed when deciding on Barnhart.

“She does have a prior history with the bar association,” Kresl said.

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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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