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New Jury Scams

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After 18 years as a Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner, Mary Dicke has announced her retirement effective April 1, 2017.

Commissioner Dicke was appointed as Commissioner on February 1, 1999.  

Mary graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont, California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy.  Mary met her husband, Jeff, while attending Hofstra Law School in New York.  Both graduated in 1977.

Mary interned at a Wall Street Firm while in Law School which is where she decided to look for public servant work.

Mary and Jeff decided to visit the Pacific Northwest after seeing a picture of Mount Rainier on the cover of a Rand McNally roadmap.  Mary and Jeff arrived in Tacoma in 1977.  Mary worked at the Puget Sound Legal Assistance Foundation and formed and led the Community Outreach Program.  Mary was a VISTA Attorney and in 1982 joined Jeff’s law firm in Gig Harbor and practiced Family Law until appointed to the bench in 1999.

Mary and Jeff have two children, daughter, Emily, and son, Stephen.

At her festive retirement party held March 17, 2017 at Remann Hall, Commissioner Dicke was honored for her nearly two decades of passionate work on behalf of families and children, and her unwavering protection of rights for our County’s most vulnerable citizens.  She will be sorely missed by her colleagues, who join in wishing her a wonderful, well-deserved retirement.


Pierce County Superior Court is notifying the public about a change of court operations on Friday, March 31, 2017.  In order to accommodate the Youth and Law Forum in Courtroom 100, Superior Court will be moving Court Commissioner duties from Courtroom 100 to Courtroom 207A for the morning of Friday, March 31, 2017.  The afternoon session will remain in Courtroom 100.  Courtroom 207A is located on the 2nd floor of the County City Building.  We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.  If you have any questions about this move, you may call our Commissioner Services Department at (253) 798-6697.  Thank you

Judge Whitener presents at the Black Women Rise National Conference in Florida
Judge Whitener BWRNC.jpg

Judge Whitener recently returned from participating on several discussion panels at the Black Women Rise National Conference in Florida.  As part of that conference, Judge Whitener performed an individual presentation titled “Color of Justice: coding an imperfect criminal justice paradigm.” Judge Whitener discussed Domestic Violence cases, Drug Cases, Sex cases and Class A felonies and how they impact the lives of women of color. 

Women came from more than 20 states, D.C., and Canada. There were doctors, lawyers, ministers, entertainers, advocates, teachers and students in attendance.  Judge Whitener stated “it was an honor to participate in such an empowering event where many of the topics discussed have an impact on women, particularly women of color.”  

Congratulations to Judge Whitener for the honor you bring to Pierce County Superior Court.  Thank you for your dedication to the cause of justice, and for continuing to engage in dialogue addressing the difficult issue of racial bias/disparity within the criminal justice system.   

Judge Whitener was appointed to the Pierce County Superior Court, Department 11 in 2015 by Governor Inslee.  Prior to joining the Pierce County Superior Court, Judge Whitener was an Industrial Insurance Appeals Judge from 2013-2015.  Judge Whitener held several Prosecuting Attorney positions and worked for the Department of Assigned Counsel from 1999 through 2005 until she became managing partner at Whitener Rainey Writt PS.  She is a member of the International Association of Women Judges, the National Association of Women Judges, and Washington Women Lawyers. Judge Whitener is a national and international speaker on Access to Justice and Human Rights.  She is a graduate of the Seattle University School of Law with a Juris Doctor.

Swearing-in Ceremony for new Court Commissioners

Pierce County Superior Court
Requests the honor of your presence
At the swearing-in ceremony for:

Sabrina Ahrens, Court Commissioner
Barbara McInvaille, Court Commissioner 

On Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 4:00 PM
A reception will follow immediately after the ceremony in the 
Superior Court Jury Assembly Room, 123
930 Tacoma Ave S., Tacoma 98402


Pierce County Superior Court is notifying the public about a change of court operations on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.    In order to accommodate for Pierce County Executive Dammeier’s State of the County Address in Courtroom 100, Superior Court will be moving Court Commissioner duties from Courtroom 100 to Courtroom 2C for the morning of Wednesday, March 15, 2016.  The afternoon session will remain in Courtroom 100.  Courtroom 2C is located on the 2nd Floor of the County City Building.  We apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.  If you have questions about this move, you may call our Commissioner Services Department at (253) 798-6697.  Thank you.

New judges swearing in photos 

On January 12, 2017, members of the public, Pierce County staff, Elected Officials, family and friends gathered at Pierce County Superior Court to attend the swearing-in ceremony for our four newly elected Superior Court Judges.  Judges Grant Blinn, Karena Kirkendoll, Shelly K. Speir and Timothy L. Ashcraft were sworn-in, in front of a standing room only audience in the ceremonial courtroom for Pierce County Superior Court.
Court was convened by Chris Hutton of the Pierce County Clerk’s Office and presided over by Pierce County Superior Court Presiding Judge Elizabeth Martin.  Judges from Pierce County Superior Court, Pierce County District Court, Tacoma Municipal Court, Thurston County District Court, United States District Court, Washington State Supreme Court and Washington State Court of Appeals Division II attended the ceremony.  Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, Department of Assigned Counsel Director Michael Kawamura and newly elected County Executive Bruce Dammeier were also in attendance.  Each Judge had the opportunity for a short presentation by a respected person in their lives.  They were then sworn-in by a Judicial Officer of their choosing.  Finally, there was the robing ceremony, where after the newly robed Judges joined Presiding Judge Martin on the Bench.  Each Judge was then given the opportunity to address the audience with concluding remarks by the Presiding Judge.

Presentation of Grant Blinn was given by Rev. Aaron Stewart.  His Administration of Oath was officiated by Pierce County Superior Court Judge Jack Nevin, Department 6.  He was robed by his wife, Katie Blinn.

Presentation of Karena Kirkendoll was given by Pierce County Superior Court Judge Edmund Murphy, Department 9.  Her Administration of Oath was officiated by U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Strombom.  She was robed by her brother, Kain Kirkendoll.

Presentation of Shelly K. Speir was given by Department of Assigned Counsel Attorney Mary Kay High.  Her Administration of Oath was officiated by Pierce County Superior Court Judge Frank Cuthbertson, Department 21.  She was robed by her husband, Donald J. Moss.

Presentation of Timothy L. Ashcraft was given by Washington State Court of Appeals Judge Linda Lee.  His Administration of Oath was officiated by Washington State Court of Appeals Judge Brad Maxa.  He was robed by his wife, Katie Ashcraft.

The new Judges join their colleagues on a Bench which includes 22 Judges and 8 Commissioners.  They will be attending Judicial College from January 29th through February 3rd.  All four will begin their time on the bench handling Criminal Dockets.  They will assume the Judicial Rotation which is assigned to their Department.  Please join Presiding Judge Martin and the entire Superior Court family in welcoming Judge Blinn, Judge Kirkendoll, Judge Speir and Judge Ashcraft to the Superior Court Bench.


Pierce County Superior Court is pleased to announce that Barbara McInvaille has accepted an offer for the vacant Commissioner position, previously held by now Judge Karena Kirkendoll.  Commissioner McInvaille has indicated a tentative start date of January 17, 2017.  Ms. McInvaille is currently an attorney with the Helland Law Group, with an emphasis in family law.  She began her legal career as a Judicial Clerk for the Hon. J. Dean Morgan and the Hon. Elaine Houghton of the Washington Court of Appeals, Division II.  Ms. McInvaille is the immediate Past President of the Family Law Section of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association and has served as a frequent Pro-Tem Commissioner in Pierce County.  A formal swearing in date will be set after she joins the court on January 17th.

We are also pleased to announce that Sabrina Ahrens has accepted an offer for a soon-to-be vacant Commissioner position.  Pierce County Commissioner Mary Dicke has announced her retirement from the bench on April 7, 2017.  Ms. Ahrens will be replacing Commissioner Dicke once she retires.  Ms. Ahrens currently serves as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Pierce County and has served as a Pro Tem Judge in Olympia and Lakewood Municipal Courts.  In addition to her legal work, she is very involved in Community organizations, including the March of Dimes, which she served as Vice Chair of the South Sound Board of Directors.  She has also served as an officer of the Pierce County Minority Bar Association.  Her official and formal swearing in ceremonies will be set at a later date. 

Please join us in welcoming these two new Commissioners to the Pierce County Superior Court family.

Pierce County Superior Court is the second largest Superior Court in the State of Washington and is proud to serve the citizens and visitors of Pierce County.  The Court is staffed with 22 Judges and 8 Commissioners.  There are three sites where court is held; the County City Building at 930 Tacoma Ave S Tacoma, Remann Hall Juvenile Court at 5501 6th Ave Tacoma, and Western State Hospital at 9601 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood.  

Applications for Guardian Ad Litem 26.09

Only applications with a revision date in 2016, will be accepted. All new applicants and former registry members not currently serving on the RCW 26.09 Certified Registry must complete the new applicant application packet  and supply all written documentation including a resume. All current members on the Certified Registry must complete the renewal application packet, submit a resume and an updated residential history. All applications must be submitted by the close of business on March 17, 2017 to the Superior Court Administrator. 

Opportunity for RCW 11.88 Guardians ad Litem

Pierce County Superior Court is accepting Requests for Proposals for full or part time contract 11.88 Guardians ad Litem for indigents’ positions. Ideally, there would be five “up to 36 closed cases” per year positions beginning in 2018 and no more than two “up to 18 closed cases” per year in 2018, which may be mutually renewed each year for up to five years of the RFP which starts in 2018.

In addition to the RFP, all interested parties will need to complete the required Title 11 Guardian ad Litem application, training, and attachments which are available HERE by the deadline of March 17, 2017. 

Preserving the History of the Superior Court

The following video gives a brief overview of how Pierce County Superior Court is preserving it's history.

Preserving Court History Video

Judge Stephanie Arend presented with the American Board of Trial Advocates 2016 Judge of the Year AwardABOTA - Arend.jpg

On November 10th, 2016, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend was presented the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) 2016 Judge of the Year Award. The award, presented by Mr. Sim Osborn, President-Elect of ABOTA, was "presented in appreciation for your leadership of th

e bench and in the legal profession; your focus on progressive

 and pragmatic justice system innovation, always with the goal of promoting greater access to justice for the citizenry and your unwavering support of the Seventh Amendment Right to Jury Trial".  When asked what this award meant to her, Judge Arend stated, "to receive this award from such a prestigious group of trial attorneys - both from plaintiff's and defense bar - is one of the greatest honors of my life."

2016 Washington Women Lawyers Legacy Award

Pierce County Superior Court is pleased to inform the citizens of Pierce County about a great honor bestowed upon one of our Judges.  Judge Gretchen Leanderson received the prestigious Legacy Award from the Washington Women Lawyers (WWL) at this year’s WWL Annual Banquet on October 14, 2016.  This award is well deserved and stands as a tribute to her outstanding career as an attorney and now as a jurist.  Please join the Court in congratulating Judge Leanderson.

On receiving the award, Judge Leanderson is quoted as saying, “I am truly appreciative to WWL for this recognition.  We each have opportunities daily to impact the lives of those around us.  I am grateful for the mentors I have had throughout the successive stages of my legal career.  It is in turn deeply rewarding for me to ‘pay it forward’ by mentoring others.” 

Judge Leanderson has been a member of WWL since 1988.  She has served on the WWL state board and was co-president of the Pierce County chapter.  Judge Leanderson was given this Legacy Award for her years of service and mentoring through WWL.

“The WWL Legacy Award was created in 2009 to memorialize the inspiring and valuable personal and professional legacies within WWL and its founding and key sustaining members, so that current and former members can understand, honor and build upon the progress we have made.” (2016, October 18). Retrieved from http://www.wwl.org/page-1517457

Judge L.jpg

Judge Gretchen Leanderson (left) with Shannon Lawless, President of Washington Women Lawyers

Photo Credit: Martina Machackova Photography www.photographymama.com

Temporary Courtroom Change

Pierce County Superior Court is notifying the public about a change of court operations for August 30, 31 and September 1, 2016.  In order to accommodate the installation of a Court History Project in Courtroom 100.  Superior Court will be moving Court Commissioner duties from Courtroom 100 to Courtroom 217-A for all three days.  Courtroom 217-A is located on the second floor of the County-City Building.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If you have any questions about this move, you may call our Commissioner Services Department at 253-798-6697.

Office of Guardianship and Elder Services launches new website

During its first stakeholder meeting held August 2015, the Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders identified a need to improve AOC webpages that provide information about guardianship programs.

Please click on the hyperlink below to access the site. Please note that bookmarks previously created to the website will no longer function. Please e-mail comments, suggestions and questions about the site to Shirley Bondon at


invites applications for the position of:


Beginning August 8, 2016, attorneys interested in applying to be on the 2017 Pro Tem Judge/Settlement Mediator panel can pick up applications in Superior Court Administration, Room 334. The application will also be available on the following link: 2017 Pro Tem Judge Application. Applications must be returned and date stamped to Superior Court Administration, Room 334, by 4:30 pm on October 28th, 2016. 

PLEASE NOTE: Current members of the Pro Tem Judge Panel must re-apply to be considered for the 2017 panel. 

If there are questions please contact the Pro Tem Judge Coordinator at 253-798-3605. 

invites applications for the position of:

2017 Pierce County Superior Court Pro Tem Commissioner

Beginning August 1, attorneys interested in applying for the 2017 Pierce County Superior Court Pro Tem Commissioner List can pick up applications in Superior Court Administration, Room 334 or Commissioners Services Department, Room 140 at the County-City Building or may obtain them from the Superior Court website at this link 2017 Pro-Tem ApplicationApplications must be returned to Superior Court Administration, Room 334, no later than 4:30 P.M., October 28th, 2016.  

An applicant must have a minimum of five years of experience as an attorney in the State of Washington and may not serve as a pro tem commissioner if appointed or serving as a Guardian Ad Litem for compensation under Title 11, 13 or 26.  If you have any questions, please contact the Commissioners Services Department at (253) 798-6697.

Commissioner Kiesel named Jurist of the Year

Commissioner Diana Kiesel.JPG

Superior Court is proud to announce that our own Commissioner Diana Kiesel was named the Jurist of the Year by the Washington State Bar Association Family Law Section.  Commissioner Kiesel received her award last Friday in Vancouver.  Congratulations Commissioner Kiesel.

Northern Mariana Islands visits Pierce County Superior Courts

The Pierce County Superior Court had a special visitor view court on Junedrugcourt1.jpg 7,2016.  Yvette Sablan, Special Assistant on Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation to the Office of the Governor, observed Pierce County Family Recovery Court and Pierce County Felony Drug Court.  Ms. Sablan met with the Honorable Elizabeth Martin and various members of the Felony Drug Court team to discuss drug court and what they have learned in the past 21 years since it was first established in Pierce County.

On March 17th 2016, Governor Ralph Torres signed a bill funding a Drug Court in the CNMI.  In preparation for the implementation of their newly developed drug court program Ms. Sablan attended the 22nd Annual National Association of Drug Court Professionals Conference the first week of June in Anaheim, CA and then travelled to Pierce County to learn about how our programs operate.  She plans on visiting the Felony Drug Court program in Marion County, Oregon. 

Ms. Sablan indicated that their drug court program will utilize a public owned treatment facility that will provide long term residential treatment for the drug court population.  Currently, the CNMI is experiencing a rise in Methamphetamine use amongst its population. She will take back everything she learned at the NADCP Conference and while visiting the Pierce County and Marion County Drug Court programs to finalize program policy and procedures.

Ms. Sablan stated, "The Pierce County Felony Drug Court was my first drug court visit and experience.  I have served as a judge's secretary in a punitive court, but today, I witnessed a judicial system that cares about every individual that walked through its door.  Watching Judge Martin encourage and engage positively with the participants was quite an experience. Pierce County may have a never ending war on drugs, but it is a battle that is winning back lives and giving hope to the wounded.”

The CNMI hopes to begin admitting participants into their program in August 2016.


The Pierce County Superior Court would like to remind residents that no representative from the Pierce County Superior Court or the Sheriff’s Office would come to your home and speak to you about missing Jury Duty.  Recently a man, unknown description, came to a residence in Pierce County and asked to speak to “the mom” who had missed Jury Duty.  The family members told this subject their Mother was not home and she had not missed Jury Duty.  The subject left the residence.  If you have someone show up to your house and claim to be a representative from Pierce County, please ask to see identification.  If they cannot prove who they are, call 911 and report the fraud to the local law enforcement.

Jury Duty is an important part of our Criminal Justice System.  We take the privilege of participating very seriously.  Please report fraudulent Jury Duty scams to the Pierce County Superior Court by calling 253-798-3654 or by emailing .

amanda.jpgAmanda Kappelman named Student of the Year at Tacoma Community College

Amanda is currently an extern with Superior Court working on a Court History project.  She is also employed part time at the Attorney General's Office in Tacoma and enrolled in the paralegal program at Tacoma Community College.

young lawyers award for Daniel.jpgDaniel Badillo receives Liberty Bell Award

The Young Lawyers Section of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association honored Daniel Badillo, Pierce County Superior Court Interpreter, with the non-attorney Liberty Bell Award during their annual Law Day Luncheon. 

Chris Gaddis Named New Pierce County Court Administrator

Pierce County Superior Court today announced Chris Gaddis as its newest Court Administrator.  He will begin his new role on May 2, 2016.

Gaddis has had a 23-year career in law enforcement and has been the Chief of Police for the City of Normandy Park since 2012. 

The Superior Court Administrator is an executive management level position that is responsible for the overall operation of Pierce County Superior Court.  

The Superior Court Administrator is responsible for accomplishing the Court’s mission of promoting respect for law, society, individual rights; providing an open, accessible, and effective forum for the resolution of cases; resolving matters in a just, efficient and timely manner; assuring the dignified and fair treatment of all parties.

“Chris has extensive leadership and management experience,” said Superior Court Presiding Judge Frank Cuthbertson.  “We look forward to the energy and creativity he will bring to Pierce County.”

A seventeen-year resident of Pierce County, Gaddis earned his B.A. in Law and Justice from Central Washington University and graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command, where he focused on Business Administration.

Pierce County Superior Court honors jurors May 16-20

Pierce County Superior Court is sponsoring Juror Appreciation Week from May 16-20 to recognize the important service that residents provide on jury duty and to highlight and honor and importance of that service.

Last year, 19,881 citizens served on a jury in Pierce County. Jurors served on Superior Court, District Court, and Tacoma Municipal Court trials. They were selected from 83,249 people who were summoned to duty.

To recognize jurors for their service, Superior Court Presiding Judge Frank E. Cuthbertson will read a proclamation from Gov. Jay Inslee to jurors. In addition, the Pierce County Council voted unanimously on May 3 to adopt Resolution 2016-49, recognizing Juror Appreciation Week.

“We thank the more than 19,000 jurors who reported to jury duty last year,” Cuthbertson said. “We understand jury duty can be inconvenient, but the right to a jury trial is fundamental to our liberty and democracy. That’s why we commend the thousands of Pierce County citizens who reported to serve on a jury."

In honor of Juror Appreciation Week, court staff will provide jurors snacks and are encouraged to wear “We Appreciate Our Jurors” buttons.

More information is available at www.piercecountywa.org/jury.

Judge Jack Nevin will join Emory Law faculty for annual trial techniques advocacy program

Judge Jack Nevin of the Pierce County Superior Court will join the 2016 faculty of Emory University School of Law’s KesslerEidson Trial Techniques Program to be held April 30 through May 6. 

Judge Nevin joins an elite group of more than 120 jurists, practitioners, and legal scholars from across the United States and foreign jurisdictions, including Mexico, to teach in the prominent program which, over the course of three decades, has launched some of the nation’s leading trial lawyers and judges.

“We are very selective in choosing faculty,” said Emory Law professor, and Emory Law Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution director, Paul Zwier. “The group of faculty that will convene in Atlanta this year includes people who are at the top of their game – and who also have the teaching skills to train the next generation of trial advocates.”

Family Law Forms & Instructions

NOTICE:  Beginning May 1, 2016, new pattern forms will be accepted for all family law case and required as of July 1, 2016. Please see the new pattern forms at www.courts.wa.gov/forms beginning on May 1, 2016.

Therapeutic Court Partners win Awards

VA Awards.jpg

Left to right:  Benjamin Bauldauf, Jim Bolz, Davida Cohen, Marianne Clear, Judge Elizabeth Martin, Jerry Burrage, Michael Howard, Jamie Bonomo, Judge Edmund Murphy, Dea Finigan, Lisa Sinnitt

Pierce County Superior Court’s Judge Murphy; Judge Martin; Judicial Assistant, Dea Finigan; Felony Mental Health Court Coordinator, Marianne Clear and Department of Assigned Counsel’s Lisa Sinnitt attended the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System’s Social Work Month Annual Celebration and Awards Luncheon on the morning of March 23, 2016 to support award recipients and community partners.  Both of the therapeutic courts in Pierce County Superior Court benefit from working closely with Davida Cohen, the Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator for the VA Puget Sound – American Lake Division.  Of the community award recipients, Davida nominated many that help the veterans in Felony Drug and Mental Health Court succeed:  James “Jim” Bolz for his work with the Pierce County Incarcerated Veterans Program, ensuring veterans are connected with resources and support in the community; Benjamin “Ben” Bauldauf, volunteers as a Mentor, a strong advocate for veterans to gain access to services and works with those incarcerated through the Alternative to Violence program; Michael “Mike” Howard, volunteers as a Mentor, working with incarcerated veterans through the Alternative to Violence program and also serves as a Chaplain for veterans; Jerry Burrage works for Pierce County Alliance as the primary counselor for all veterans receiving co-occurring treatment in the veterans track of the Felony Drug Court; Jamie Bonomo serves as the court liaison for Pierce County Alliance to present the reports to the court and work closely the Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator and court personnel.  

Jury duty scams on the rise

Jury coordinators in Pierce County have received several reports this week of scammers working the phones to trick residents into believing they owe a fine for missing jury duty. 

Here’s what to look out for:

An unsuspecting person receives a call informing them that they have missed their summons to come to Jury Duty and now have a warrant out for their arrest. They are told the only way to fix the situation is to purchase a cash card from the store, call back a phone number they are given and provide the scammer the numbers on the card. Within minutes the scammers have received the money.

One local man was told he missed his Jury Duty notice twice and now had several fines against him, including a fine for Failure to Appear and Contempt of Court. His “fines” totaled $2,500. He followed the instructions he was given and went to a store, purchased the Visa-style cash cards, dutifully called the scammer’s phone number and gave them the numbers on his cash cards. 

Please keep in mind that Pierce County jury coordinators will not call residents. Those summoned for Jury Duty will receive official notices in the mail.




 Myths and Misperceptions about Courts
Do you wonder who the courts work for? Who can give you legal advice? To find out the answer to these and other questions check out this video - Myths and Misperceptions About the Washington Courts.

Juror Appreciation Week

New Criminal Division Presiding Judge (CDPJ) Protocols

New Mandatory Impact on Children Seminar Offered for Non-Parental Custody Petitioners

Changes to Ex Parte Procedure

Archived Superior Court News 

Bar News