Contributed photo Judge Eaton will retire as San Juan County Superior Court judge at the end of 2017.

Local lawyer explains how the next Superior Court judge will be appointed

Submitted by Stephen A. Brandli

Later this year, Governor Jay Inslee will select San Juan County’s next Superior Court judge. This appointment will be followed by an election for the position in November of 2018.

Donald E. Eaton, San Juan County’s current Superior Court judge, recently announced that he will retire at the end of 2017, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 years. Former Governor Christine Gregoire appointed Judge Eaton to the Superior Court bench in 2010 after Judge John O. Linde suddenly passed away. Judge Eaton ran unopposed in elections in 2010, 2012 and 2016. Judge Eaton will retire after serving the first year of his current four-year term.

On May 17 of this year, Governor Inslee posted a Notice of Vacancy soliciting applications from qualified lawyers for appointment to replace Judge Eaton. Applications are due to the governor by July 21. It is expected that the governor will announce his appointment later this fall. The new judge will began service on Jan. 1, 2018.

Even though the newly appointed judge will begin serving the second year of Judge Eaton’s four-year term, the law requires a new election be held at the next general election, which will be in November of 2018. The winner of that election will serve for two years until the normal election for the position in November of 2020.

Judge Eaton has been a part of the San Juan County legal community for several decades. Prior to his appointment as judge, Donald Eaton was in private practice in the county for 31 years. He also served as a part-time Superior Court Commissioner for 26 years and the attorney for the Town of Friday Harbor for 29 years.