PORT TOWNSEND — Longtime jurist Jill Landes is hanging up her robes.
The Jefferson County District Court judge and former deputy prosecuting attorney in both Clallam and Jefferson counties will not seek a fourth four-year term in the Nov. 6 general election, she said Sunday.
Filing week is May 14-18 for candidates for district court judge, District 3 county commissioner, and county sheriff, assessor, auditor, clerk, prosecuting attorney-coroner and treasurer.
“I just think it’s time to retire and maybe look at doing some other things in terms of something outside of the law,” said Landes, who turns 68 later this month.
“You always need to look at fresh blood getting in there, that type of thing.”
Landes has been a perennial victor at the ballot box, facing challengers in every election.
She defeated Richard Suryan in 2006, John Wood in 2010 and Cheryl Potebnya in 2014, all by more than 54 percent.
A Hollywood, Calif., native who grew up in Los Angeles, Landes earned a law degree from Seattle University School of Law and was living in Alaska before moving to Blyn 30 years ago.
District court judges adjudicate traffic infractions, civil claims of up to $100,000, misdemeanors punishable with fines of no more than $5,000 and up to one year in jail, and fraud in the sale, purchase and exchange of personal property.
As Jefferson County’s only district court judge, Landes has handed down decisions on too many cases to count.
“It feels like thousands, sometimes,” she said.
“District court is like the people’s court.”
But developing and presiding over the mental health court stands out more than anything for her.
She is drawn to the holistic approach taken toward criminal activity that is often intertwined with mental health and substance abuse issues.
Landes said she appreciates the mental health court’s non-adversarial environment, likes being part of different agencies working together and “helping provide people with the stability and that type of thing that they haven’t had in years and in some cases decades” she said.
“It’s very fulfilling.”
The district court judge position will pay $164,313 as of Sept. 1.
Once Landes, who is single, retires — her term expires Jan. 6, 2019 — she plans on travelling and may add more volunteer causes to a list that has included the YMCA.
“There are a lot of different things of interest that I haven’t been able to squeeze out the time to do,” she said.
“I’ve been doing this a long time.
“It’s not an easy decision, but it’s the right decision for me.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].