Special Reports

Another judge selected to hear Crystal Brame family suit

Another judge has been assigned to hear the Crystal Brame wrongful death lawsuit.

King County Superior Court Judge James Cayce, on the bench at the Regional Justice Center in Kent, is the ninth judge randomly assigned to hear the suit against the City of Tacoma and others.

The suit stems from Tacoma Police Chief David Brame's fatal shooting of his wife, Crystal, and himself April 26, 2003. Crystal Brame's family also is suing Pierce County, former City Manager Ray Corpuz, Mayor Bill Baarsma and former assistant police chief Catherine Woodard.

Rob Novasky, an attorney for the city, said his clients do not intend to reject Cayce.

"We think he's a good judge," Novasky said. "It's our understanding he's had quite a bit of experience, and is respected on the King County bench. We think he's going to be a good judge for this case."

Paul Luvera, attorney for Crystal Brame's sister, parents and two children, likewise was pleased with Cayce.

"Our experience with Judge Cayce is that he is a hard-working, intelligent judge who studies the issues carefully before making fair and objective rulings," Luvera said.

Luvera first filed the case in Pierce County, but eight judges of the county's 21 Superior Court judges recused themselves or said they would. Another four were unable to hear the case because of other assignments.

Luvera refiled the case in King County. Superior Court Judge Jay White was assigned but recused himself; Luvera then rejected Superior Court Judge Greg Canova because of his work as the lead prosecutor for the attorney general.

Each party in the case gets one chance to refuse a judge without giving a reason.

Dan Hamilton, attorney for Pierce County, said he hopes the county won't be a party to the suit much longer. He filed a motion to have the case against the county dismissed.

James Frush, Corpuz's attorney, said he hasn't filed a notice of appearance in the case yet. In any case, he said it's too early to decide whether Cayce is the right judge.

Woodard's attorney didn't return calls for comment.

Karen Hucks: 253-597-8660