Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Appointment to Spokane County Superior Court
November 10, 2003
Thank you Judge Sypolt for that kind introduction. It is a pleasure to be here today. I appreciate all of you taking time out of your busy schedules to attend todayís announcement.
Today I have the privilege of coming to Spokane to appoint a new Superior Court judge. In the next few weeks Iíll be in the Tri-Cities, Ellensburg, and Yakima to announce some new superior court judges. Admittedly, our tour may not make as much news as say, the Rolling Stones or Britney Spears. But these announcements will have far greater and lasting impacts.
As a lawyer and former deputy prosecutor, the appointment of judges is something I take very, very seriously.
I have a deep and abiding commitment to the independence and integrity of the judicial branch of our government. Our judges, who sustain that independence and integrity in the eyes of the public receive very little recognition. There is too little understanding of the complex decisions they must make everyday.
I strongly believe that our judges are among our stateís everyday heroes. They preside over cases that are monumental to the individuals before the court. Divorces, child custody, personal injuries, business disputes, and criminal cases are life altering to the people before the courts.
Therefore, our citizens deserve the best, brightest and hardest-working judges. Only through the appointment and election of quality judges can we build more respect for the judiciary, our judicial system, and our democracy.
Recently I saw a U.S. chamber of Commerce study that ranked Washington State judges in the top 5 in both competence and impartiality. Judges: This is a testament to all of you. You make us proud and confidant about justice in our state.
Before I announce our new appointee, I would like to say a few words about Judge Richard Schroeder, who is retiring.
Judge Schroeder has been on the Superior Court bench for 13 years. His story is remarkable. He began his legal studies while he was a Spokane County Sheriffís Deputy, attending school at night. He first served as a prosecutor, then worked in private practice for 23 years.
I was told that shortly after Judge Schroeder began practicing law a potential client came to his office. Wanting to impress his visitor, he picked up the phone and said, "I'm sorry, but I have a tremendous case load and won't be able to look into this for at least a month." He then hung up, turned to the young man in his office and asked, "What can I do for you, sir?" "Nothing," replied the young man. "I'm just here to hook up your telephone."
Judge Schroeder has been a strong presence on the bench of the Spokane County Superior Court. He is well-known for his incredible work ethic. And he is tremendously well-respected throughout the legal community and the general public.
We greatly appreciate Judge Schroederís years on the Superior Court bench; he will be missed. I hope he and Mary (and their many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) enjoy their added time together. Thank you Judge Schroeder for your service to the Spokane County Superior Court.
Appoint Michael Price
There were many excellent candidates to replace Judge Schroeder, making this a very difficult but satisfying decision.
First and foremost, we needed someone with unquestionably solid legal skills and experience. Someone with the temperament and wisdom to bring efficient, understandable justice to the people.
Choosing from the talented pool of candidates was hard. We consulted with a lot of people:
∑ Members of the Spokane County Bar Association
∑ Judges of the Spokane Superior Court, Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court
∑ The Attorney Generalís Office
∑ The Spokane County Prosecutor and Public Defenders
∑ And many others who have dealt with the candidates professionally.
Each of the candidates had different strengths and different backgrounds. But there was one candidate who had the just the right combination of expertise, intelligence and life experiences to fill this vacancy. So it is with great pleasure and honor that I hereby appoint Michael Price to the Spokane County Superior Court.
Michael is a Spokane native. He received his bachelorís and law degrees from Gonzaga University. His undergraduate degree was in music, a major we donít usually see represented in our judicial system. In fact, Michael has had an illustrious career in music. He is currently concert master with the Spokane Symphony. And he has received many prestigious honors for his virtuosity on the violin.
As great as his musical career has been, Michael has been equally as talented as an attorney. After law school, Michael began working with Spokane Legal Services. His practice was devoted to representing the indigent in a variety of legal circumstances.
Michael continued in private practice for the next 13 years, focusing on family law. He has handled many complex dissolution proceedings. He has trial experience, as well as experience as a mediator and arbitrator.
Michael has also worked as a commissioner pro tem in the Spokane County Superior Court since 1997. He has adjudicated hundreds of proceedings in a variety of matters.
Michael has been very active in the legal community. He currently serves as the president of the Spokane County Bar Association. He has also participated on many committees within this organization and the state Bar Association. He is a frequent presenter at continuing education conferences as well.
Michael has received tremendous support from attorneys and judges throughout the county. He has been described as a consensus builder. He has been lauded for his honesty, intelligence, and commitment to justice. His work in the difficult circumstances surrounding family law matters demonstrates his calm temperament. Those who have worked with him have expressed the opinion that he will be a dedicated and fair judge. Clearly, he has the legal skills, the demeanor, and the experience to be a top-notch judge.
Congratulations, Michael, and welcome to the Spokane County Superior Court.
Would you like to say a few words?
(Opportunity for Appointee to Speak)
Our judiciary represents a tremendous amount of talent, experience, and wisdom. I am pleased to be adding Michael Price to a branch of government that is so important to our democratic system.