Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Appointment to Jefferson County Superior Court
February 27, 2004
Thank you Judge Huth 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 today’s announcement. I want to thanks Marianne Walters, the court administrator, for all her help setting up this event.
Today I have the privilege of coming to Jefferson County to appoint a new Superior Court judge. 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. This is a testament to our state’s great judges.
Before I announce our new appointee, I would like to say a few words about Judge Thomas Majhan (MAY-han), who passed away in January.
Judge Majhan was elected to the Superior Court in 2001. He previously served as a superior court commissioner and a district court judge here in Jefferson County.
Judge Majhan was a beloved figure in Jefferson County. He was very admired and respected as a judge. But his commitment to the community went far beyond his service on the bench. He was especially giving to the youth of the county. He went into the schools to teach kids about the law. He used truancy court as a way to keep kids in school and out of trouble. After his wife passed away in 2001, he established scholarships at every high school in the county. And upon his death, Judge Majhan’s entire estate was donated to scholarship funds.
Judge Majhan had a profound effect on this community; he will be missed. But he has left a wonderful legacy in Jefferson County for us all to admire and appreciate.
Appoint Craddock Verser
There were many excellent candidates to replace Judge Majhan, 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 Jefferson County Bar Association
· The judge of the Jefferson County District Court, the retired superior court judge, and even Justices of the state Supreme Court
· The Attorney General’s Office
· The Jefferson 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. I wish I could appoint more than one! A county with only one superior court judge requires a person with broad experience in criminal and civil law, and have extensive trial experience to preside effectively as a judge over other lawyers.
There was one candidate who had the just the right combination of expertise and intelligence to fill this vacancy. So it is with great pleasure and honor that I hereby appoint Craddock Verser to the Jefferson County Superior Court.
Crad grew up in Virginia. He attended the University of Virginia, receiving a bachelor’s in economics and a master’s in education. He then came to the west for law school, attending Gonzaga University, where he graduated cum laude.
Crad started his legal career in eastern Washington, working first in a solo practice, then as the public defender in Stevens County. He then continued to work his way west, working as an associate in law firm near Yakima.
He completed his westward migration in 1986, coming to Jefferson County to work as the public defender. He worked on all criminal matters, including appeals. He was hired by the Port of Port Townsend in 1991. He advised port commissioners on all contract, real property, and employment matters. He continued defending adult felony cases while working with the port.
Since 2002, Crad has been a partner in a Port Townsend law firm. The firm provides representation in all criminal and civil matters, including felony and misdemeanor defense, family law, estate and probate, and personal injury and property disputes. He has handled 60 felony jury trials over his career.
Crad has served as one of 24 state bar examiners since 1990, writing and grading bar exam questions in many legal areas. He has also been active in the community, volunteering with the Jefferson County Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Program’s “Do-it-yourself-divorce clinic.” He has been a judge and instructor for the Mock Trial Competition at local high schools. And he has done free legal work for the Elks and Kiwanis.
Crad is a very well-regarded, experienced lawyer. He was ranked first overall in a poll of the Jefferson County Bar Association. In a one superior court county, having the best attorney as a judge is essential to efficient and quality justice.
He has been called “fair-minded and people oriented.’ One lawyer commented that “he is the hardest worker I know in the legal community.” Another said that one it comes to relevant legal ability and experience, Crad “stacks up with the best of the best.” His breadth and depth of experience will help him hit the ground running. Clearly, he has the legal skills, the demeanor, and the experience to be a top-notch Superior Court judge.
Congratulations, Craddock, and welcome to the Jefferson 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 Craddock Verser to the Superior Court bench, a court that is so important to our citizens.
# # #