Doug Nadvornick from SPR reports.
Three judges from Spokane City Court are up for re-election this year. There is a competitive race for Matthew Antush’s seat [AN-tush], but the other two judges, Mary Logan and Kristin O’Sullivan, are unopposed.
Logan has been on the Spokane City Bench since 2009.
“We take care of everything from parking tickets to red light enforcement to business law violations and then straight into the criminal code, everything from driving during a third-degree lockdown to DUIs and domestic violence cases,” she said.
This court does not deal with murders and rape. It’s the venue that most people are likely to encounter firsthand, and the volume reflects that.
“On average, there are likely 10,000-12,000 criminal cases going on and then 60,000 tickets and violations,” Logan said.
The district court has also shown a willingness to experiment. One of those experiments happened years ago when Logan and her colleagues started a community court. It takes legal proceedings out of the courtroom and into less intimidating and less formal places like community centers, connecting the defendants with the services they need.
Logan still speaks law there at least two days a week, despite the fact that the court has had to adjust to the realities of the pandemic. It operated online for months, which isn’t ideal considering that its clientele are often homeless or lack access to technology. Many people never showed up for their court dates. Now, Logan says, the court is mostly back to personal business, if not entirely normal.
“The part that isn’t personal because the treatment agencies can’t, or even won’t, is that personal, heartfelt delivery with someone there,” she said.
Mary Logan is unchallenged for another term, as is Kristin O’Sullivan, who was appointed to court by Mayor Nadine Woodward in January. O’Sullivan had served as the local court commissioner.
“It enabled me to handle civil violations, which gave me good visibility when dealing with the community. Many of the people who see the commissioners are not represented. They are civil violations. You are not entitled to legal representation. Some of them hire lawyers. So I’ve had a good experience dealing with the public and really made sure I have the temperament to be a judicial officer, “she said.
O’Sullivan has worked here as a prosecutor in the Spokane and Benton counties and as a defense attorney in western Washington. During her tenure as a city court judge earlier this year, she says she worked on getting to know the people who will come to court before her, even though Covid has limited personal contacts. Now she is up for election and presents herself to the voters.
“If you look at my résumé, I have devoted my entire career to the criminal justice system in a variety of roles, starting with going back to college over the summer and vacation periods. I would work in my hometown, I would work in the clerk’s office, so I got a lot of insight into the court system, how it works, the different types of cases, ”she said.
O’Sullivan says she plans to continue presiding over a Spokane courtroom for four more years.
Ballot papers are in the mail. They must be submitted to the district electoral office or a ballot box by November 2, 8 p.m., or postmarked if they are returned by post.