NCW Media Managing Editor Gary Bégin interviewed incumbent Chelan County Superior Court Judge Robert McSeveney recently to get some answers about recent Washington State Supreme Court decisions and his feelings about other legal subjects as well.
His answers follow:
NCW Media: Why do you want to be retained as the Superior Court Judge for Chelan County?
Robert McSeveney: My wife and I live in Wenatchee and love this community. I have been a judge for over 23 years in both the state and federal courts. I possess a level of expertise and experience that is unmatched by any current judicial candidate. I have handled thousands of civil and criminal matters and presided over hundreds of jury trials. I have presided over national security cases, and, asylum and torture convention immigration actions. As an immigration judge, I was one of only 275 judges in the country and I held a top-secret security clearance and presided over complicated and dangerous matters involving MS-13, terrorists and other national security threats to the United States. My judicial experience at all levels of court uniquely qualifies me for this job.
Additionally, having served as a pro tem in the district courts, I like the superior court, the judges and staff and feel I can contribute to the quality of justice in the community. Washington courts are all about accessibility, the fair and effective administration of justice, access to necessary legal representation and effective court management. I have considerable expertise in these areas.
NCW Media: What importance do you place on your experience having already been on the bench compared to your opponent?
McSeveney: To be blunt, my opponent has never been a judge either appointed or elected despite repeated attempts. He has no judicial training and no judicial experience of note. Professional judicial critiques include evaluations of a judge’s decision making, efficiency, demeanor, impartiality, and overall performance as a judge. The public needs to be conscious of these criteria. None exist for my opponent.
People can go to my website atwww.judgemcseveney.com and find details about me and my experience. I have been endorsed by over 130 judges statewide including most of the Washington Supreme Court and supported by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs as well as the Fraternal Order of Police. I have over 1000 hours of judicial training in this state and with the Department of Justice. I have attended the state judicial college twice and been on the college faculty. I have taught other judges how to be good judges. My website also contains at least 10 years of detailed ratings of me when I was a judge in Kent. I have also listed some decisions I was involved with over the years all the way from the Washington courts to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If voters do their homework, they will see there is no match between me and my challenger. There simply is no substitute for demonstrated experience. Additionally, I have no conflicts in this county. I can operate without fear or favor unaffiliated with local personal networks.
NCW Media: Are you able to comment on State Supreme Court rulings like the Hirst and/or McCleary decisions?
McSeveney: Unfortunately, no. The Code of Judicial Conduct (Rule 4.1) prohibits me from making any statement on a matter likely to come before the court. Although the cases you mention have been resolved, the subject matter is likely to come before the superior court; therefore, I am prohibited from making any commentary.
NCW Media: Are there particular reforms you might bring to the Superior Court system or
will things remain status quo?
McSeveney: I have been on the superior court bench for just over 6 months now. In that time, I have been involved in implementing greater efficiencies to attorney scheduling, in-custody processing and “best practices” as recommended by the Administrative Office for the Courts. We have also implemented a drug court for 2018.
NCW Media: Are laws regarding the cannabis industry setting precedent in view of the
fact that it is a new industry?
McSeveney: The legislature and local authorities are having to deal with the effects of the passage of Initiative 502 and subsequent laws. The law is evolving. There will be legal challenges. Those challenges will work their way through the courts. The resulting court decisions on appeal will create a body of law related to the new industry. We will just have to wait and see what the nature of those challenges are and how the courts rule creating legal precedent.
NCW Media: Is that the same (precedent setting) with the bitcoin industry?
NCW Media: What type of cases that come before you are criminal as opposed to civil, and in either case, does your knowledge make your decisions easier?
McSeveney: So far, I would estimate my caseload to be about 40% criminal, 35% family law and 25% miscellaneous matters including personal injury, trust and estates and contract disputes.
My knowledge and experience in criminal law and civil is extensive. Having been a police officer, prosecutor, city attorney, private attorney, hearing examiner and judge of many years, I understand the entire criminal and civil process from start to finish. This is unique experience few possess. The types of criminal cases are varied including murder, robbery, rape, burglary, assaults and such. All serious and all requiring a working knowledge of the Rules of Evidence, Criminal Rules and other safeguards to insure due process and a fair trial.
Yes, my knowledge and experience makes my decisions easier.
NCW Media: What is the biggest problem running (administratively) Superior Court?
Docket load? Wait time, etc.?
McSeveney: The Chelan County Superior Court has three full-time elected judges and one full-time appointed family law commissioner. It is a relatively small court. Fortunately, the court is blessed with an excellent court administrator and dedicated staff. The judges all work together well to provide a high level of service to the public. There are many hands that are involved in scheduling court dockets. I have not noticed heavy calendars like the district court experiences. Civil trial dates are typically months out given the constant caseload. The judges meet every Friday to discuss court issues dealing with a variety of things such as scheduling, procedural issues and best practices.
NCW Media: Tell the readers about yourself: Family, education, hobbies, passions,
McSeveney: I was born in Glasgow, Scotland. I am an immigrant and became a US citizen at age 14. My father was with the London and Glasgow police departments. I attended Tyee High School in SeaTac and Seattle University where I graduated summa cum laude. I attended law school at the University of Puget Sound which is now Seattle University School of Law. I was a Bellevue police officer for 10 years but quit to attend law school. I returned to Bellevue as a prosecutor then a trial lawyer for the city in both state and federal courts. I also had a successful private law practice employing three attorneys and staff. I found myself filling in for many judges in the King Court District Courts. The cities of Kent and Bothell appointed me as a judge to start their municipal courts. I was a Kent judge for over 17 years when I moved to the federal system being appointed as a US immigration judge by the US Attorney General. I was hand selected from nearly 2000 applicants nationwide. It was an honor to serve the country in that capacity. I moved to Wenatchee in 2016. Once here, I helped out the Chelan, Grant and Okanogan district courts serving as a pro tem judge and developed a solid reputation with those courts. I am married, my wife’s name is Laurie. She works for Coldwell Banker Lavigne in Wenatchee. I have two children. One is an attorney here is Wenatchee, the other works as a judicial assistant for a municipal court. I also have 4 stepchildren, all successful. I enjoy music, I play the guitar and 5-string banjo. I have played in several bluegrass bands at venues in multiple states including festivals and concerts in the parks. My son is one of the top 5-string banjo players on the west coast. His band North Country has played in the Wenatchee area several times. I also enjoy motorcycling with my wife Laurie and working on our property. We love Wenatchee and are involved in numerous volunteer events and boards.
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