Speeches

Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Appointment to Kitsap County Superior Court
December 21, 2004


Thank you Judge Roof for that kind introduction. And thank you for convening court today.

I also want to thank the state Legislature and the Kitsap County Commissioners for approving funding to create this new judicial position.

I appreciate all of you taking time out of your busy schedules to attend todayís announcement. As a lawyer and former deputy prosecutor, the appointment of judges is something I take very, very seriously.

This will be my final judicial appointment. With this appointment today, I am proud to say that I have appointed 61 of the best qualified Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Superior Court judges in the history of this state.

At the Superior Court level alone, Iíve appointed 55 exceptional candidates to the bench - one third of the total number of sitting superior court judges in the state. I have made five appointments to the Court of Appeals, and one appointment to the Supreme Court.

I have often been asked why Iíve devoted so much time and care to judicial appointments. The short answer is because I mustóitís too important not to.

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. Most cases are never appealed. So it is critical that we have quality superior court judges making sound, wise 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.

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. 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.

There were some excellent candidates for this new position on the Kitsap County Superior Court, making this a very difficult but satisfying decision.

Choosing from the talented pool of candidates was hard Ė very hard. We consulted with a lot of people:

∑ Members of the Kitsap County Bar Association
∑ Judges of the Kitsap County Superior Court and the Court of Appeals
∑ The Attorney Generalís Office
∑ The county prosecutor and criminal defense attorneys
∑ 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 Sally Olsen to the Kitsap County Superior Court!

Let me tell you a little bit about Sally.

She attended Utah State University. She graduated with a bachelorís degree in environmental studies. She also earned minor degrees in political science and French. After graduation, Sally served as an intern in the White House.

She received her law degree from McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in Sacramento, California. For two years, she worked as a law clerk in the U.S. Attorneyís Office in San Jose.

After becoming licensed to practice law in Washington state in 1986, Sally worked for six years as a deputy prosecuting attorney in King County, trying jury and non-jury trials in superior court. While at the prosecutorís office, she had an opportunity to devote the better part of a year exclusively to appellate brief writing and arguments.

Most recently, Sally has worked in a general civil and criminal practice, which includes civil litigation, criminal defense, family law, wills and probate, landlord and tenant issues, and contract work.

Sally is a frequent Pro Tem Judge in the Kitsap County and Jefferson County districts and is also Pro Tem Judge in the Bremerton Municipal Court and the Suquamish Tribal Court. Sally also serves as a Kitsap County Superior Court Guardian at Litem. She received a commendation from Kitsap Legal Services last year in recognition of ďpro bonoĒ legal services she has provided to the indigent.

She is also active in the community at large. She has been a member of the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce and has served on the boards of the Kitsap County Domestic Violence Task Force and the Kitsap County Humane Society, among others. She has also served as chair of the Kitsap County Council for Human Rights.

She even found time to serve as assistant den leader for her son Ryanís Cub Scout den last year! In her spare time, Sally enjoys doing search and rescue work with her dog.

Sally is an extremely well regarded and experienced lawyer. She has a diverse background in both criminal and civil law. Attorneys have commented very positively on her professionalism, integrity, and intelligence. She is bright, meticulous and fair. She will bring extensive experience in family and criminal law to the court, which constitutes the vast majority of the courtís cases. Her background will enable her to hit the ground running and help the court address the great number of cases it has pending. Clearly, she has the legal skills, the demeanor, and the experience to be a top-notch Superior Court judge.

Congratulations, Sally, and welcome to the Kitsap County Superior Court!

Our judiciary represents a tremendous amount of talent, experience, and wisdom. I am pleased to be adding Sally Olsen to the Superior Court bench, a court that is so important to our citizens and our democracy.

Thank you.

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