Inslee appoints new judge to Pierce County bench

A 26-year veteran of the state attorney general’s office is Pierce County’s newest judge.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday announced the appointment of Gretchen Leanderson to fill the Superior Court seat vacated by retired Judge Thomas Felnagle, who concluded his 22 years of service Oct. 31.

Leanderson, 55, is the current division chief of the attorney general’s Tacoma division. She has worked in other sections of the attorney general’s office, including social and health services, labor and industry and torts.

“Gretchen has extensive experience working on all kinds of legal issues and a reputation for being a top-notch manager,” Inslee said in a news release. “Her experience inside and outside of the courtroom shows an ongoing commitment to serving the people of Pierce County with the highest level of professionalism.”

Leanderson graduated from the University of Washington before getting her law degree from the University of Puget Sound. She’ll be one of eight women among the county’s 22 judges.

She has other ties to Pierce County; her husband, Jim Schacht, is a deputy prosecuting attorney.

“Gretchen Leanderson is an excellent choice for Pierce County Superior Court judge,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.

“During her 26-year career at the attorney general’s office, Gretchen has been a defender of Washington workers, vulnerable adults and neglected and abused children. Throughout it all she was an invaluable part of our team. She will be an outstanding judge.”

Leanderson’s start date isn’t settled yet, Presiding Judge Ronald Culpepper said, but she will be sworn in shortly.

“We are all looking forward to having Gretchen join our court,” Culpepper said. “She is a well-respected attorney known for her hard work, organization, and sound judgment. She will serve the people of Pierce County well.”