Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Appointment to Benton-Franklin Superior Court
June 10, 2004
Thank you Judge Swisher for that kind introduction. And thank you for convening court today. And thanks to Pat Austin, court administrator, for arranging this special occasion. It is a pleasure to be back in the Tri-Cities, only this time in your other county’s courthouse. I appreciate all of you taking time out of your busy schedules to attend today’s announcement.
Today I have the privilege of coming to Kennewick 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 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. Most cases are never appealed. So it is critical that we have quality superior court judges making good decisions in our judicial system.
Judges make possible the peaceful, orderly and rational resolution of disputes.
Disputes in our nation are not settled by violence, civil war, or the military, but through a system based on reasoned principles. Our courtrooms are the fair and neutral forums in which grievances are heard and disagreements settled peacefully, in an orderly fashion, and based on rules and principles developed and accepted over decades if not hundreds of years.
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.
When I became Governor, I resolved to treat judicial appointments with the importance they deserve and to appoint only highly qualified individuals. Because judges, once appointed, typically serve for many years well beyond an appointing Governor.
It is quite likely that this will be my last judicial appointment during my time as Governor. I have made 50 Superior Court Appointments, 5 appointments to the Court of Appeals, and one appointment to the Supreme Court.
I have been honored and humbled at the quality of people I have met through the judicial appointment process. The attorneys practicing in this state are incredibly talented and hard-working. The appointment process has been a joy because there are so many talented attorneys to choose from. But it has also been difficult to choose each time from the pool of highly qualified candidates. But I am proud of the results of our hard work. I believe our judges here in Washington state rank among the best in the nation. Judges: you make us proud and confident about justice in our state.
Before I announce my 51st superior court appointee, I would like to say a few words about Judge Carolyn Brown, who is retiring.
Judge Brown has served on the Benton-Franklin Superior Court bench for 16 years. She was the first female deputy prosecutor in Benton County when she joined the office in 1978. And she was the first woman elected to the Benton-Franklin Superior Court.
Judge Brown has served on the state Sentencing Guidelines Commission. She has been the chair of the education committee for the state Superior Court Judges Association. And she has been very active in the governance of the Benton-Franklin Superior Court.
Judge Brown has been one of our most experienced judges and a leader on the bench. She has been a role model for many young attorneys
We greatly appreciate Judge Brown’s years on the Superior Court bench; we will miss her wisdom and leadership. I understand she plans to do become a certified Pilates instructor, helping others learn to exercise to deal with stress. I know I could use her wisdom in this area!
We thank Judge Brown for her service to the court, Benton and Franklin Counties, and the state of Washington. We wish Judge Brown and her husband Larry all the best!
Appoint Cameron Mitchell
There were many excellent candidates to replace Judge Brown, making this a very difficult but satisfying decision.
Choosing from the talented pool of candidates was hard – very hard. We consulted with a lot of people:
· Members of the Benton-Franklin County Bar Association
· Judges of the Benton-Franklin Superior Court and the district court
· The Attorney General’s Office
· The two elected prosecutors
· 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. But there was one candidate who was the nearly unanimous choice. So it is with great pleasure and honor that I hereby appoint Cameron Mitchell to the Benton-Franklin County Superior Court.
Cameron grew up in the Tri-Cities. He attended Washington State University, receiving a degree in history. He was is member of the Academic All-Conference Football team there, demonstrating that he had the brains to go with the brawn!
He received his law degree from Willamette University. He quickly returned to the Tri-Cities after graduating, working as an assistant attorney general in Kennewick for five years. He worked on a range of matters involving workers’ compensation, parole revocations, juvenile dependency matters, and child support enforcement.
He then began working for the U.S. Department of Energy in their Richland office. There he provided legal advice regarding environmental issues, civil and criminal liability, and government contracting.
Cameron became an administrative law judge in 1993. He hears cases involving workers’ comp., crime victims’ compensation, and appeals of safety citations issued under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act. These administrative hearings are conducted under the same rules and procedures as superior court matters. He has also served as a judge pro-tem at the Benton-Franklin County Juvenile Justice Center, handling cases involving at risk youth and truancy matters. So Cameron in effect has been a de facto Superior Court judge for many years!
Cameron is also very involved in the community. He has made presentations to the Youth in Law forum held at Columbia Basin College. This is an excellent way to teach our youth about the importance of the legal system, and how it works. This gives our youth a better idea of the judiciary then they receive on television. He has also worked with members of the Benton-Franklin Child Abuse Council in developing a Child Sexual Abuse Clinic.
Cameron is an extremely well-regarded and experienced lawyer. Judges I have spoken with have commented very positively on his professionalism, integrity, and intelligence. He is bright, meticulous and fair. He has extensive experience as a judicial officer, so his learning curve will be short. Clearly, he has the legal skills, the demeanor, and the life experiences to be a top-notch Superior Court judge.
Congratulations, Cameron, and welcome to the Benton-Franklin 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 Cameron Mitchell to the Superior Court bench, a court that is so important to our citizens and our democracy.
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