Court commissioner retires

Programs will continue after veteran leader moves on

William Knebes, Clallam County’s first Family Court commissioner, said he plans to retire effective March 31.

“I will miss this position as it has afforded me the challenges and independence I crave in a work environment,” Knebes wrote in his retirement announcement letter. “One of my deepest regrets is the loss of professional camaraderie that I have experienced working with two, now three, dedicated, caring judges who I consider close friends.”

Knebes was appointed to the position when the county began its unified Family Court program.

“I am particularly proud of our unified Family Court, which we began in 1991,” Knebes wrote.

In family court, all matters involving families are heard by one judicial officer. The Family Court program has been very successful and has served as a model for other counties, which have implemented similar programs.

During his 17 years in the position, Knebes heard family law motions, dependency matters, juvenile delinquency issues, truancy cases, domestic violence matters and settlement conferences in domestic relations, to name a few.

Knebes was named the Washington State Bar Association’s Judge of the Year in 1999 and was honored as Jurist of the Year for the Family Law Committee of the Washington State Bar Association in 2007.

Knebes has been active in implementing changes in state legislation regarding Family Court and has been a role model for commissioners in other districts dealing with their own cases. He has volunteered countless hours training and educating family mediators who now serve to resolve family issues before they reach the court system. He is the founder of the Peninsula Dispute Resolution Center, which also serves in that capacity.

The programs Knebes implemented, maintained and made successful during his time in the position will continue to be a part of the Clallam County system.