State Supreme Court Position 9 Hopefuls

From left, Bruce Hilyer, Sheryl Gordon McCloud and Richard Sanders are running for Washington State Supreme Court Justice position 9.

Washington State Supreme Court position 9 hopefuls Bruce Hilyer, Sheryl Gordon McCloud and Richard Sanders recently answered a series of questions given to them by the Daily Record. Fellow candidate John W. Ladenburg had email issues and will respond to the questionnaire within the next few days. The top two vote getters in the primary election — ballots are due Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012 — will move on to November general election.


Bruce Hilyer: I am free of ideological agendas

Why are you running?

I believe I am the most qualified candidate for this position and I will represent the people and the constitution of Washington with integrity and honor. I will bring a unique and critically important perspective to our highest court, which comes from 12 years on the bench as a trial court judge. Of all the candidates for this position, I am the only one with both judicial experience and an impartial, non-ideological agenda. I would like to give back to the community by serving on our Supreme Court.

What experiences best qualify you to serve as judge?

My 12 years as a trial court judge and my ability to apply the law and the constitution without bringing my own ideological leanings to the bench.

How involved will the court need to be in the education funding process for it to implement the ruling in McCleary v. State?

The Supreme Court will need to carefully monitor the Legislature’s compliance with the McCleary decision. The parties should be invited to propose benchmarks and methods of evaluating compliance. But in doing so, the court should always maintain a respectful approach to the Legislature as the solution to this problem will necessarily involve cooperation between the two branches of government.

What is your view on special interest group contributions to judicial races?

Special interest contributions, if taken to the extreme levels in some other states (i.e. Texas), pose a tremendous threat to judicial independence and the public’s trust in the judiciary.


Sheryl Gordon McCloud: I will bring experience, independence to the court

 

Why are you running?

Experience and independence. After working as a public defender, I spent most of the rest of my legal career — approximately 25 years and hundreds of cases — arguing cases before the Washington Supreme Court and similar appellate courts. I have handled the most complex matters and fought to uphold the Constitution even when the result — as in many criminal cases — was unpopular. Of all the candidates who are running for Position 9, I am the candidate with the most experience before the Supreme Court.

What experiences best qualify you to serve as judge?

Since I am running for the Washington Supreme Court, my most relevant experiences are: direct representation of clients in hundreds of criminal and civil cases, for over 25 years, in the Washington Supreme Court and appellate courts like the 9th Circuit; co-chairing the Amicus (or friend-of-the-court) Committees of Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, entrusted with the duty to decide whether and how to weigh in on some of the most complex cases in the Washington Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, etc. (all pro bono or volunteer work); volunteering with the Innocence Committee; winning landmark appellate cases on issues ranging from the right to courtrooms open to the press and the public to the right to bear arms to the right to pregnancy disability leave. In addition, I have taught law — including appellate practice before the Washington Supreme Court, the court I am running for — at Seattle University School of Law. And I have served on important statewide committees of the Washington Supreme Court.

How involved will the court need to be in the education funding process for it to implement the ruling in McCleary v. State?

The court has asked for briefing on precisely this topic from both sides in that case. The parties have different ideas on this question — from wanting a special appointee to perform oversight, to suggesting the more limited role of receiving reports. Thus, this issue will be coming before the court in the future. For that reason, I cannot decide it now, in advance — especially without benefit of the parties and other justices’ views and informed research.

What is your view on special interest group contributions to judicial races?

In Washington, contributions to judicial candidates are capped at $1,800 per race, regardless of whether the contributor is a person, a corporation or an organization. Independent expenditures — whether by special interest groups or interested individuals — are not capped in that manner. The big problem this poses is that a contributor — individual, corporate, or special interest — can use a large independent expenditure in support of a judicial candidate that it leads to at least an appearance of possible bias.


Richard Sanders: We must look out for the ‘little guy’

Why are you running?

Article 1, Section 1 of our Constitution states: “governments ... are established to protect and maintain individual rights.” I believe that’s also the job description of a Supreme Court justice: We must look out for the “little guy” and protect citizen rights. Sometimes this makes me seem conservative, as when I support property rights, and sometimes it makes me seem liberal, as when I fight for free speech and personal rights to privacy. But I am consistent: We have rights the government must not violate.

This is how I approached every case during my 15 years on the Supreme Court. It’s also the reason I’m running to return and why retiring Justice Tom Chambers has endorsed me.

What experiences best qualify you to serve as judge?

I served on the Supreme Court for 15 years. I heard more than 1,700 cases and wrote over 600 opinions — more than any other current justice. Besides serving on the court, I was an adjunct professor at the University of Washington School of Law and wrote scholarly articles. A chapter I authored is featured in a criminal justice text taught at Harvard Law School. I also was a practicing attorney for 26 years and handled more than 100 appeals to every level of the court system.

How involved will the court need to be in the education funding process for it to implement the ruling in McCleary v. State?

It is my view that the Supreme Court may retain jurisdiction only under exceptional circumstances. In general, the three branches should maintain a strict separation of powers.

As far as how involved the court will need to be in implementing McCleary v. State, that depends entirely on how quickly and decisively legislators can find sufficient funding for primary education.

What is your view on special interest group contributions to judicial races?

Campaign finance laws of this state limit Supreme Court contributions to $1,800 per person or entity per election. To me, this does not present a problem. I do believe more citizens should contribute to judicial campaigns. Without sufficient resources a candidate cannot get his or her message out.

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