Opinion

A trio of attorneys pursuing vacant bench

Like It Is

Voters complain more about judicial races than any of the others on the ballot because they usually know little or nothing about the people they’re voting on other than how long it’s been since they cracked the law books.

Candidates for the bench often slip out of answering some questions with the excuse that the Code of Judicial Conduct bars them from making statements that appear to commit them on cases liable to come before them in court.

Since they are non partisan, the only way you can find out whether they lean Democratic or Republican, if that matters to you, is to note their endorsements. And if you like your lawyer, ask him or her for an opinion on who to vote for.

Three lawyers want the vacant seat created on Kitsap’s Superior Court by the retirement of Leonard Costello. Which means the top two vote getters will be on the November ballot unless one of the trio is elected Aug. 19 by receiving more than 50 percent of the total.

Appearing at the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues breakfast were Gregory J. Wall, 58, Port Orchard, a trial attorney for 30 years, who has represented individuals, insurance companies and Kitsap County.

Bruce Danielson, 55, Port Orchard, has 24 years experience representing individuals and businesses.

Jeanette Dalton, 53, Kingston, trial attorney for 25 years and sits as a substitute District judge in Jefferson County.

What did they think of the strategy of overcharging offenders so they can plead down to a lesser charge to avoid trial?

Wall said he disagreed with overcharging.

Dalton said it was absolutely impossible to try every case which is why some are plea bargained.

Danielson said charges often start from the bottom and are charged up.

How can a person in court figure out whether he’s got an experienced judge or one learning the ropes?

Experience does count, trial lawyers are quick learners and new judges do receive training, said the trio.

What are the biggest problems screwing up the fabric of society today?

“Breakup of family units and a bad drug problem,” Wall said. “A lot of cases come from drug addiction,” Dalton said. “Disconnect with the court system,” Danielson said.

What can be done by judges about the problem of domestic violence that results in killings which can’t be stopped by a piece of paper called a restraining order?

Concentrate on judging the demeanor of the individuals, Dalton said. Make sure the individuals involved know violation of the order means jail time, Danielson said.

Use discretion, Wall said, since it depends on who is law abiding and who is not.

Where do they stand on Megan’s Law, requiring 25-year sentences for persons caught molesting children? All said they would follow the law.

In closing, Wall said he was ranked most qualified by 75 percent of the bar and claimed to have the most, widest and deepest experience. Dalton said she brings a wealth of experience, and is the only one of the three with experience as a judge.

Danielson said he had experience in domestic relations and would apply the law fairly no matter who stands in front of him.

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