Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Appointment to Snohomish County Superior Court
January 23, 2004
Thank you Judge Wynne for that kind introduction and for convening court this noon hour. It is a pleasure to be here today. I appreciate all of you taking time out of your busy schedules to attend today’s announcement. Thanks to Dick Carlson, Superior Court administrator, for helping with today’s announcement.
Today I have the privilege of coming to Everett to appoint a new Superior Court judge. I have been fortunate to visit Everett in the past month on other business. Something about a new airplane company and a new plane that you may have heard a little about that will be build in Washington! And ensures commercial airplane production in Washington state for decades to come, keeping 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.
I am pleased to be back in Snohomish County on additional important business. 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 too little recognition. There is too little understanding of the complex decisions they must make everyday.
I strongly believe that our judges are among our state’s 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 Joseph Thibodeau, who is retiring.
Judge Thibodeau has been on the Superior Court bench for 18 years. He has over 33 years of experience in the judiciary. His legal experience is very unique. He worked as a Washington State Supreme Court Law Clerk, where he was instrumental in the creation of the state court of appeals. And he was the first Commissioner of the Court of Appeals, Division One.
As a Superior Court judge, Judge Thibodeau spearheaded the development of the Snohomish County Juvenile Drug Treatment Court. His work in this court has helped hundred of young people turn their lives around. I received letters from parents expressing their thanks for the firm compassion with which Judge Thibodeau treated their children. Our community is immeasurably better because of the work of Judge Thibodeau.
Judge Thibodeau has been a strong presence on the bench of the Snohomish County Superior Court, including his five years of service as presiding judge. He is well-known for his integrity and dedication.
We greatly appreciate Judge Thibodeau’s years on the Superior Court bench; he will be missed. We thank Judge Thibodeau for his service to the Snohomish County Superior Court, Snhomish County, and Washington state.
Appoint Stephen Dwyer
There were many excellent candidates to replace Judge Thibodeau, 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 – very hard. We consulted with a lot of people:
· Members of the Snohomish County Bar Association
· Judges of the Snohomish County District and Superior Courts, and even the Supreme Court
· The Attorney General’s Office
· The Snohomish 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 district court Judge Stephen Dwyer to the Snohomish County Superior Court.
Judge Dwyer grew up in south Snohomish County. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Puget Sound. He went to law school at the University of Washington, and graduated with honors.
After law school, Judge Dwyer began working as a clerk for Judge Williams in the Court of Appeals.
Following his clerkship, he practiced law in Bellevue for nine years. He had a mostly civil practice, representing small businesses in his practice, but also engaging in misdemeanor criminal defense and some appellate work. He later concentrated on personal injury claims and other civil litigation. He had a solo practice in Edmonds for a year before his election to the Snohomish County District Court in 1995.
Judge Dwyer is very active in the judiciary. He serves as president of the Washington State District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association. In 2001, he was named “State Judge of the Year” by the Washington State Trial Lawyer’s Association. And last year, he received the “Outstanding Judge Award” from the Washington State Bar Association. He is also a member of the Board of Judicial Administration, the policy-making arm of the judiciary.
Judge Dwyer is also very involved in the community. He serves on the board of the Neutral Zone, which engages in at-risk youth support and anti-gang efforts. Prior to becoming a judge, he served on the Edmonds City Council for 11 years. And he is also on the board of the Snohomish County Children’s Commission.
Judge Dwyer has proven experience as a judge. He has a broad base of experience, having practiced both criminal and civil law. He was ranked first in evaluations by the Snohomish County Bar Association. Clearly, he has the legal skills, the demeanor, and the experience to be a top-notch Superior Court judge.
Congratulations, Judge Dwyer, and welcome to the Snohomish 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 Stephen Dwyer to the Superior Court bench, a court that is so important to our citizens.