After nearly 40 years experience as a lawyer, Brooke Taylor recently moved to the other side of the bench.
Nearly two dozen federal, state and local judges flocked to Clallam County to watch Taylor, 64, be sworn into his new position as a Superior Court judge Jan. 2. The longest serving chief justice in the state’s history, Gerry Alexander, read Taylor his oath of office.
"Washingtonians want high standards in their judicial system and I don’t think anyone in this room would disagree with Brooke’s qualification for this position," Alexander said to a crowd of nearly 100 people in the county courthouse.
Clallam County voters elected Taylor to the newly created judge position earlier than expected, during the primary election of 2007.
"I am both thrilled and grateful for the support," Taylor said after receiving more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary election, eliminating the three other contenders from the race months before the general election.
Before swearing Taylor in, Alexander and other state and federal judges reflected on the man and his new position.
"Port Angeles is renowned around the state as having an excellent Superior Court," Alexander said to the courtroom. "I’ve known Taylor through his (state bar association) governor position as well as when he was a president of the Washington State Bar Association, and I can tell you all that he will serve you well on this bench."
While many speeches were about Taylor, the man, the new judge reflected more on the new position, rather than himself.
"Judges Wood and Williams and Commissioner (Bill) Knebes deserve a lot of credit for their work toward creating this position and making it known to the county how important it is for justice to work effectively," Taylor said.
The Clallam County Board of Commissioners opted to fund the third Superior Court judge position in 2007 after pouring over court case statistics. The new position will concentrate on a stack of civil cases, which have been backed up for years because criminal cases generally take priority.
Taylor campaigned under establishing a clear trial schedule while catching up on civil cases. He also offered to do a best practices survey of counties of a similar size to Clallam to see what improvements can be made through acquiring a third judge.