SOUTH BEND — Four local attorneys are vying to replace retiring Superior Court Judge Doug Goelz. Gov. Jay Inslee hopes to pick a finalist before the end of the year.
Guy Glenn, 73, of Long Beach, Don Richter, 41, of Raymond, Mike Turner, 63, of Raymond, and Eric Weston, 62, of Menlo applied to serve the two years remaining in Goelz’s term, Governor’s Office spokeswoman Tara Lee said on Nov. 30.
The Superior Court judge handles felony cases and a performs wide variety of other functions in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties. Superior Court judges are paid $172,571 a year, increasing to $194,574 on July 1, 2019 and to $204,424 on July 1, 2020. This compares to the governor’s salary of $177,107 now, which increases to $183,072 next year and $189,186 in 2020.
Glenn, owner of Guy Glenn Law Firm, has been an attorney since 1971. He specializes in personal injury, criminal defense and estate planning. Glenn has been involved in various aspects of the local justice system for decades. In the 1970s, he served as a Pacific County district court judge and prosecutor. In 1988, Gov. Booth Gardner appointed Glenn to finish the rest of retiring Superior Court Judge Herbert Weiland’s term. However, several other candidates quickly filed to run against him in that year’s General Election. Joel Penoyar defeated Glenn in November 1988, and later went on to be appointed to the Washington State Court of Appeals.
Don Richter, a Pacific County deputy prosecutor, has been practicing law since 2007. Richter worked in private practice in Spokane before coming to work for Pacific County in 2014. He briefly left to work in the Cowlitz County Prosecutor’s Office, but when he and his family decided they wanted to stay in Pacific County, he returned to working for Prosecutor Mark McClain. He initially handled misdemeanor and civil cases in district court. Later, he became chief deputy prosecutor. Richter has prosecuted several high profile criminal cases, including the case of Robert Merrill, the former Long Beach Go Karts owner who used his business as a front for selling drugs and stolen firearms.
Turner, owner of Turner Law, has been in practice since 1983. In addition to running his private practice, Turner has long been a public defender and member of the drug court board. Another veteran of the local legal community, Turner has also served as a municipal court judge for local cities, and acts as a judge pro-tem in Superior Court.
Turner ran for the Superior Court judge seat in 2016, but lost to Goelz by a margin of 50.3 percent to 49.7, or 77 votes out of a total of 11,409 cast in the two counties.
Weston has been practicing law in Washington since 1991. While living in the Seattle area, he served as a public defender and as a deputy prosecutor. Later, he ran a family law practice that served low-income clients before moving to Pacific County to work as a deputy prosecutor. While working for McClain, Weston initially handled criminal cases, but later was tapped to handle civil law matters for the county. He resigned from McClain’s office earlier this year to run against McClain. He was eliminated in the Primary Election.
Candidates undergo a rigorous selection process that starts with a lengthy application form. They must provide numerous personal and professional references and contact information for parties involved in several of their most recent cases. They also answer essay questions about their reasons for applying and priorities, if appointed, how they would promote diversity in the legal community, and how they would improve access to legal services. The candidates are also required to describe several of their most challenging legal cases.
Governor’s Office legal staff visited the county on Dec. 3 to meet the candidates and talk with Goelz, according to Lee, the spokeswoman. Members of the legal staff conduct background checks and seek insights from local, state and minority bar associations.
“We hope to bring in a candidate to meet with the governor in mid-December, and shortly thereafter name Judge Goelz’s replacement,” Lee said.