Lowry names Kato to the Spokane County Superior Court

OLYMPIA - Gov. Mike Lowry today named Court of Appeals Commissioner Kenneth H. Kato of Spokane to the Spokane County Superior Court.

Kato, 46, fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Marcus Kelly on Jan. 1. Kato will take office Jan. 8.

"Ken Kato has demonstrated good judgment, sensitivity, fairness, compassion, and commitment to handling a demanding workload," Lowry said. "His years on the bench, combined with substantial litigation experience during his earlier private practice, leave him well prepared for the demands of a busy Superior Court."

"We are very pleased with the governor's continued commitment to diversity," said Russell Aoki, president of the Asian Bar Association of Washington. "Not only is Judge Kato an excellent choice based on his professional credentials alone, but as a Spokane native and a Japanese-American, he offers a unique commitment to the minority communities he serves."

"I am honored and eager to get to work," Kato said. "Continuing to serve my community as a member of our outstanding Superior Court is an opportunity I will cherish."

Kato was born and raised in Spokane. He earned a bachelor's degree, magna cum laude from the University of Washington and went on to earn his juris doctorate from the University of Washington School of Law in 1975. Kato practiced with the Spokane law firm of Huppin Ewing Anderson from 1975 to 1988, and served as a hearings examiner with the Washington State Personnel Appeals Board from 1985 to 1988. In 1988 Kato was selected to serve as court commissioner by the judges of the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division III. Kato has been on the bench in that capacity since that time.

Kato serves on the Washington Minority and Justice Commission, Committee of Law Examiners and the Judicial Advisory Commission on Citizenship Education. He served as an adjunct professor of law at Gonzaga University's School of Law and held other teaching roles.

Kato must run for election in November. His annual salary will be $99,015.

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For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.