Legal Experience

I came to work and live in Yakima when I graduated from University of Washington Law School in 1997. At one of my first trials, I represented a mother who had suffered such severe abuse in front of her children that her preschool son could not speak. We obtained protection orders and a protective parenting plan. The mother courageously built her new life free from family violence. Her children blossomed. Her son’s speech development quickly caught up for his age group. I knew I had found my calling in the law.  

For the next 20 years I worked for legal services. Most of my work involved representing individuals and families in Superior Court and administrative hearings. I litigated civil cases involving real property and housing, family law, protection orders, health law, and elder law cases.

Judicial Experience

In 2017, Yakima County Superior Court Judges appointed me to serve as a Court Commissioner. Court Commissioners have most of the same responsibilities as judges. Court Commissioners preside over cases in family law, dependency, and mental health, review applications for search warrants, determine probable cause for arrest, and other duties. I presided over family court, and handled other civil and criminal matters.  In 2020, my colleagues gave me their unanimous support when I was appointed to serve as a Superior Court Judge.

I believe in hard work and fairness. I want to be prepared for every case so I can make fair decisions based on the law and the evidence. To do that, I often must read hundreds of pages of court documents and research the relevant statutes and case law. Upholding the rule of law requires me to consider the evidence neutrally and apply the law as written.

Many of my cases are highly contested, with wrenching, emotional facts. I understand people need to be given the time and space to be heard.  I am a good listener, and want to hear all sides of an issue. Everyone deserves to be treated courteously, even when they are being held accountable. I hold people accountable for violations of the law. Fairness and community safety demand nothing less.

What do Superior Court Judges do?

Superior Courts are the trial courts  of general jurisdiction in Washington. Superior Court has exclusive jurisdiction over civil matters in which the amount in controversy is more than $100,000, felony cases, estate and probate matters, family law cases (including divorces and child custody hearings), and juvenile proceedings.

Yakima County Superior Court is busy. In 2019 there were 11,750 cases filed.

  • 4,712 (40%) civil (contracts, torts, property, protection orders)
  • 2491 (20%) criminal
  • 1230 (10%) domestic
  • 900 (8%) mental illness
  • 805 (7%) juvenile offender
  • 533 (5%) juvenile dependency
  • 676 (6%) probate & guardianship
  • 403 (3%) adoption & parentage

Source:  Washington State Administrative Office for the Courts, Superior Court Cases Filed by Type of Case – 2019 Annual Report. )