SCJA President's Message
May 15, 2020
It is with great pride, and a substantial amount of humility and trepidation, that I assume the role of Superior Court Judges’ Association (SCJA) President. I was elected to the King County Superior Court in 2012. I have served in each of the court’s departments and have held a number of leadership positions, including current Chief Judge of the Patricia H. Clark Children & Family Justice Center. In 2015, I joined the SCJA Board. I am an SCJA delegate to the Bench Bar Press Committee, and am honored to have been appointed Chief of the Fire Brigade by Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst (ret.). I hope to draw on all of my experience to offer leadership that earns the trust of SCJA members and the public at large.
It should come as no surprise that my term as President is not what I imagined when the process began. The coronavirus pandemic has turned our lives, personally and professionally, upside down. While I have many interests and goals toward which I hope to contribute as a judge and as SCJA President, the court’s ability to fulfill our core responsibilities while maintaining the health, safety, and legal rights of the public we serve and our work force is paramount. Each day I seem to be reorienting to the challenges and opportunities we have ahead.
Accordingly, first and foremost on my agenda is my commitment to safe, collaborative, and efficient provision of court services. Just a few months ago, that would have seemed like a relatively low bar. Today, it is all-consuming. But I am optimistic that at all levels our courts are working together to safely restore essential operations and to create new pathways that will improve access to justice and efficiency into the future.
In addition, stable and sufficient court funding, which has long been a priority, is critically important in the wake of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. It is hard to overestimate the cost of creating safe spaces, compassionate policies, and creative solutions to serve our uniquely vital court responsibilities.
Other SCJA projects and areas of interest over the next few years include:
Criminal and juvenile justice reform. Children ARE different than adults, and it is time to end mass incarceration and its debilitating collateral consequences.
Civics education and enhancing trust in courts as an independent and equal branch of government.
Promoting access to justice for those with financial, physical, mental/emotional, and/or language challenges.
Recruiting and retaining a diverse, competent, ethical, and independent judiciary.
Modernizing court infrastructure, operations, policies, and rules.
Improving court security throughout Washington.
It is hard not to be discouraged by the loss, fear, and uncertainty that surrounds us. Sensitivity, generosity, self-care, and support are mandatory. I am confident that with these qualities, this crisis will lead us to innovations that will make us stronger as individuals, as a bench, and as an institution. I look forward to working with my colleagues and our many partners to transform our challenges into meaningful opportunities.
Judith H. Ramseyer, President
Superior Court Judges’ Association