Service Jan. 21 for Superior Court Judge Spearman

Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Theodore Spearman Jr.  - Contributed
Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Theodore Spearman Jr.
— image credit: Contributed

SUQUAMISH — A memorial service will be held Jan. 21, 1 p.m. at the Suquamish Community Center for Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Theodore Spearman.

Spearman, the first African-American to serve on Kitsap Superior Court, died Jan. 3 at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with his wife and family at his side. He had been hospitalized since Dec. 7 as a result of complications from a brain aneurysm. He was 64.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to the Kitsap County Juvenile Youth Fund, the YWCA of Kitsap County’s ALIVE program or the Legal Foundation of Washington.

Theodore Ferdinand Spearman Jr. was born in Seattle on Jan. 10, 1947. He was adopted by Theodore Spearman Sr. and Nevada Letitia Jane (Roberts) Spearman of Yakima.

He was an Eagle Scout and graduated from Davis High School in 1964. He attended Yakima Valley College where he met Marie Annette Mullenneix in 1966.  He attended Stanford University on a track scholarship, graduating in 1968. The couple married May 16, 1969 in Palo Alto, Calif.

Family members said Spearman’s career of “obstinate advocacy for justice” was influenced by his parents’ work for the NAACP.

He received his juris doctorate at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor in 1971. A few months later, daughter Simone Letitia was born.

Offered a partnership in a civil rights law firm in Detroit, Spearman practiced criminal and civil law and taught as an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School. He successfully pursued civil litigation against the Detroit Police Department in multiple police brutality cases.

In 1983, the family moved back to Washington. Spearman represented personal injury and civil rights clients, often joining as co-counsel on difficult cases around the state involving police misconduct.  Making lifelong friends with many among Bainbridge Island’s “live-aboard” community, Spearman was passionate in his efforts to protect their right to moor in Eagle Harbor.

In 1998, Spearman was a finalist for appointment as a judge to the U.S. District Court, Western Division. He was appointed by the state Supreme Court to the Capital Counsel Qualification Panel, which oversees the development of attorneys qualified for appointment in death penalty cases. In 2004, he was appointed to the Kitsap County Superior Court by Gov. Gary Locke and was twice reelected unopposed.

Spearman’s family said his love of ideas, language and contemplation nearly steered him away from the law and toward graduate studies in philosophy, a lifelong fascination that guided his desire to be vigilant, to be observant and to “be here now.”

“A self-described student of Dharma, he read voraciously, explored the emotional peaks and troughs of golf, loved music and the natural joys of his Island home,” his family wrote in his obituary.

“Meditative and thoughtful, persuasive and kind, Ted lived the full life of a warrior poet.”

Judge Spearman is survived by his wife of 42 years and their family: daughter Simone Spearman,  son-in-law Jason Weaver, and granddaughter Saja Spearman Weaver, of Guerneville, Calif.


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