PORT TOWNSEND — Mindy Walker is running for re-election to the office Jefferson County District Court judge.
Walker, 45, was elected to the post in 2019. She registered for re-election with the state Public Disclosure Commission on Jan. 27 and plans to file for the position on Monday when the five-day candidate filing period begins for the Nov. 8 general election.
No opposition has announced for the judgeship. If three or more file for a position, then choices will be narrowed to two during a top-two primary Aug. 2.
“My work on the District Court bench has been a privilege and a pleasure,” said Walker, a Port Ludlow resident, in a press release.
“I ask that my constituents look at my record and consider re-electing me to maintain the consistency and forward movement I believe my staff and I can provide.”
District Court work includes gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor criminal matters, traffic infractions and civil cases, such as protection orders, name changes, small claims and other civil disputes involving $100,000 or less. The District Court also serves as the municipal court for the City of Port Townsend.
District Court judges in the state of Washington will receive $193,447 annually, effective July 1.
Among her accomplishments, Walker said, is the transition to Zoom hearings when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and the “constantly shifting” needs over the past two years since then.
“Despite the Zoom learning curve for lawyers, staff and citizens, and the frequently changing mandates by federal, state, and local governments, she and the District Court Staff have kept the court and its cases and running smoothly,” the release said.
”It’s been a huge endeavor for everybody,” Walker said during an interview on Friday.
At the beginning of the pandemic, legal hearings were shifted to a Zoom platform so that everyone appeared virtually, she said.
“The whole courthouse was closed down at the very beginning so we broadcast our hearings over YouTube so people could still access the courtroom, Walker said.
That has continued, even since the courthouse reopened.
Walker’s court now has Zoom available for nearly every type of hearing and it is live streamed on YouTube. That allows better access to the public, greater transparency, and more comprehensive interpretation services, she said.
It also saves some long drives to hearings.
“For people who are on the west side of Jefferson County, it takes hours to travel to Port Townsend,” she said.
“This is an opportunity to appear for a hearing without having to take hours off work for a hearing that might last five minutes,” she said.
“The intention is to continue that practice.”
Walker continued the Behavioral Health Court started by preceding judge Jill Landis and aims to expand it with a therapeutic court coordinator for both District and Superior courts.
“Our goal is to assist and support individuals who have mental health issues and that’s the reason they find themselves in the system,” by helping them to access services they need, Walker said Friday.
Behavioral Health Court is a collaborative effort involving mental health services, housing assistance, prosecutors, defense counsel, substance use disorder therapy and law enforcement, she said in her press release.
The multi-agency effort serves the community in two equally important ways; it reduces recidivism thereby protecting the public, she added.
A 2006 graduate of Gonzaga School of Law, Walker worked as a as a wildland firefighter for a number of years prior to entering law.
She enjoys hiking and running on the Olympic peninsula and is training for a half marathon in the fall.
As an attorney who was a partner in a successful Jefferson County law practice, she “dedicated a substantial amount of time to providing legal services to businesses, families, children, and the elderly,” she said.
As a private citizen she has worked on several charitable boards and was an active international relief worker prior to being elected.
Professionally, Walker is a member of the Washington State bar Association, Jefferson County Bar Association, and the National Association of Women Judges. She serves on the board of directors for the District and Municipal Court Judges Association, the Diversity Committee and Therapeutic Court Committee.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].