Contributed photo San Juan County Superior Court Judge Donald Eaton will retire by the end of 2017.

Interviews for San Juan County Superior Court judge replacement underway

San Juan County will have a new Superior Court Judge next year, but the race won’t be on November’s ballot.

Instead, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee will appoint the replacement for San Juan County Superior Court Judge Donald Eaton. Eaton was re-elected to the position in 2016, but reached the mandatory age of retirement this year. State law requires superiors court judges to retire at 75.

Interviews for three local attorneys to replace Judge Eaton were on Tuesday, Oct. 3 at the San Juan County Courthouse. They will be conducted by Kathryn Leathers, general counsel to the governor, and Taylor Wonhoff, deputy counsel. Inslee will interview finalists and make a final decision in late October or early November, according to a representative from his office.

A report on www.governor.wa.gov states Inslee has appointed about 60 judges throughout the state since 2013.

John Cain, Katie Loring and Rita Latsinova applied for the position and Steve Brandli has dropped out of the race.

Cain is the current senior deputy prosecutor for the county’s civil cases. Loring is a partner at the Friday Harbor law firm Goddu Langlie Loring Sandstrom PLLC. Latifinoza is a partner at the Seattle law firm Stole Rives and, on weekends, commutes to the island, where her family lives.

One of these candidates will take office in 2018, allowing Eaton to serve one year of his current four-year term. Last year, Eaton ran, unopposed, to maintain his seat. He was originally appointed to be Superior Court judge by the previous governor’s office in 2010, when the Judge John O. Linde passed.

The seat will be on the ballot in November 2018, as state law requires. That means, the appointed judge will serve a minimum of one year. The judge, selected from the 2018 election, will serve two years, completing Eaton’s original four-year term.

The San Juan County Superior Court judge presides over cases involving felony crimes, land-use disputes and civil complaints of more than $100,000; family law matters, like divorce, parental custody and paternity; legal filings concerning probates and estates; and Juvenile Court affairs.

According to the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials, state Superior Court judges earned a $169,187 salary in 2017. A county representative said the cost of the salary is split between the county and the state.

Check the Journal for the announcement of the appointed judge.