Judge Andrea L. Beall completed her first two months on the bench of the Puyallup Municipal Court on New Year’s Day.
The first female judge of the court, who replaced Judge Stephen R. Shelton following his retirement Nov. 1, said she is looking forward to 2013.
“I’ve really enjoyed working for the city,” Beall said. “They have been extremely welcoming. It’s all been positive feedback. All of the court staff have a lot of experience, and they are really nice people to work with.”
This week, a contract to provide municipal court services to the City of Milton will become effective. Assistant City Attorney Steve Kirkelie said the first court date for Milton will be Jan. 8. One courtroom at the municipal court will be used by Milton once a week on Tuesdays.
The initial agreement will be for four years. Afterward, the contract can be terminated with six months notice.
Beall said she doesn’t expect an increase in the number of court filings in 2013.
“A trend has been a decrease in filings year over year,” she said. “There will also be a decrease in filings due to less criminal charges of marijuana possession.”
Kirkelie said there were fewer than 20 marijuana-possession charges that the City of Puyallup dismissed. He added that they were only possession charges and not an entire case. Often, possession charges are in conjunction with vehicle prowl, DUI or theft, he said.
“We’re following the lead of the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office,” Kirkelie said.
Tina Marusich, municipal court administrator, said court filings by the end of this year will be 23,750, and that includes infractions from the traffic safety camera program.
The total number of hearings in 2012 is estimated to be 12,600, she said. That number includes arraignments, pre-trial hearings, motions, trials, review hearings and other infraction hearings.
Beall was one of 14 candidates who applied for the to fill Shelton’s unexpired term. She was appointed by Mayor Rick Hansen and unanimously approved by the Puyallup City Council.
Beall will fill the unexpired term through Dec. 31, 2013. She said she plans to run for the seat next fall.
Beall said she has always been a big fan of criminal law and issues related to criminal law.
“As a kid, I read every Nancy Drew book,” she said.
Beall added she plans to continue Shelton’s policy of allowing community service to cover fines owed to the court.
“I believe in accountability, and if that is in the form of rehabilitation and treatment, then I want them to take that step,” Beall said. “But if they’re not, then accountability needs to be in some form.”
Sometimes, she said, that means serving time or paying a fine.
“My favorite moments are when I feel like I have reached someone, and they feel like they know how to fix the problem,” Beall said. “I want everyone to feel like they have had a fair hearing, and even if they don’t agree with it, that they have an understanding of the ruling, and they feel they have been heard.”Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.