An Olympia attorney has sued in an attempt to have a candidate for Thurston County Superior Court judge removed from the ballot, saying she does not meet the state’s eligibility requirements because she lives in another county.
Thurston County Court Commissioner Christine Schaller is one of four candidates running for the Position 2 judgeship held by retiring Judge Paula Casey. Schaller lives in Pierce County.
Vicki Lee Anne Parker’s petition for declaratory judgment names Schaller and Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman as defendants. A hearing date for Parker’s petition had not been set as of Friday.
Before Schaller filed, she received notice from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that the county would not oppose her candidacy. The prosecuting attorney’s civil division has cited a 1986 opinion by its office stating that the state constitution does not have residency requirements for Superior Court judges.
Schaller’s attorney, Shawn Newman, has said the state constitution trumps state law, adding that Schaller has lived in Olympia most of her life and still works in Thurston County.
Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Klumpp said Friday that the state Supreme Court also has stated in a footnote to an opinion that the qualifications for Superior Court judge candidates are set by the state’s constitution, not the Legislature.
Newman has filed a response to Parker’s petition, denying its allegations. The response states that under the statute of limitations, Parker’s petition should have been filed no later than two days after the closing of the filing period for candidates on May 18. Parker’s petition was filed May 29.
Parker said Friday the statute of limitations does not apply.
Schaller is a family and juvenile court commissioner for Thurston County Superior Court, hearing criminal cases involving juveniles, as well as civil cases involving family disputes and child-custody cases. Schaller has served as a commissioner for seven years. The position is appointed by Thurston County Superior Court judges.
A judge from outside Thurston County likely will have to hear Parker’s petition because the Thurston County Superior Court judges will have to recuse themselves, Newman said Thursday.
The other candidates for Casey’s vacant judgeship are Victor Minjares, Jim Johnson and Marie Clarke. All three are attorneys in the state Attorney General’s Office.
In a phone interview, Parker said she filed her petition as a concerned citizen and Thurston County voter. She said she does not know any of the other candidates. Parker also said she ran for Thurston County Superior Court judge in 2004 and lost.