Judicial candidates prepare for Aug. 17 election
August 3, 2010
Voters will choose from three candidates in the Aug. 17 primary election for a King County District Court judge serving the Northeast Division.
Newcastle’s Donna Tucker, Mercer Island’s Ketu Shah and Redmond’s Larry Mitchell are running for the position. The county created the position last year to address a growing caseload.
The top two candidates from the primary will advance to the Nov. 2 general election — unless a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary. In that case, he or she wins the election outright.
A 42-year resident of King County and 14-year resident of Newcastle, Donna Tucker is ready to make the transition from substitute to full-time District Court judge.
From 1987 until 2004, she co-managed the law firm Tucker & Stein P.S. Inc., beginning her substitute judge work in 2000 in Renton Municipal Court. Since then, she has worked in Issaquah, Mercer Island, Kirkland, Kent, Tukwila and Des Moines municipal courts in addition to District Court.
She said she hopes to make a positive impact on the system if she is elected, placing a priority on fair, respectful decisions.
“My responsibility is not just to the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law,” she said. “I think people need to know the judge is listening and will do the right thing.”
She added that, as a people person, she enjoys working with the individuals who come before the court.
In addition to working as an attorney and judge, Tucker also volunteers as an assistant coach on a youth softball team and serves on the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers board of directors.
She has also worked with Senior Services of Seattle; the Senior Rights Assistance program, Victim of Crime Advocates; and the Court Monitoring Committees for Redmond and Bellevue, which monitor District Court.
Ketu Shah said he believes his background in domestic violence prosecution and three years as a substitute District Court judge have given him the skill set necessary to become a full-time judge.
Domestic violence has been at the forefront of his mind for more than 10 years, as he prosecuted such cases for Bellevue and helped establish a domestic violence unit for the city.
“It was that experience that led me to understand exactly what the courts can do and how it impacts peoples’ lives,” he said.
Shah said he hopes to bring fairness, patience and respect to the court.
“I think it’s really important to spend the time to listen to people and make a thoughtful ruling,” he said. “People will remember how they were treated by a judge.”
He primarily worked in Issaquah, Redmond and Bellevue as a substitute, and he said he had to earn the trust of the elected judges.
He also volunteers with Chaya, a nonprofit that helps South Asian women in times of crisis and raises awareness of domestic violence.
Shah is a 15-year resident of the county who now lives on Mercer Island with his family. He said he likes to spend as much time as possible with his family, and he coaches his two daughters’ soccer teams.
Larry Mitchell, who has worked as a city prosecutor for Redmond for 16 years, said he is ready to put his experience to the test on the other side of the bench. As a prosecutor, he handled criminal and domestic violence cases, traffic infractions and civil code violations in District Court.
During his time as a prosecutor, Mitchell formulated his sense of justice and what is right. He said he believes that patience, knowledge of the law, compassion and the ability to be decisive are the most important virtues of a judge.
“I want to make sure people are treated fairly,” he said.
A calm demeanor is also important, he said, as people on trial take emotional cues from others in the room as to how to behave respectfully.
Mitchell was trained to be a substitute judge, but said he felt that his time was better devoted to serving as a prosecutor. Mitchell has lived in Redmond for 19 years, and he loves hiking, fishing and the outdoors.
He has also served as a volunteer lawyer for the Eastside Legal Assistance Program for 15 years.
“I have enjoyed my time in public service,” he said. “I feel I have made a positive difference and would like to continue that service as a judge.”
About King County District Court
The court — the largest court of limited jurisdiction in the state — has responsibility for traffic infractions, certain civil matters and misdemeanor criminal offenses, and for the adjudication of state offenses — or violations of state statute in the county, or when the arresting agency is the Washington State Patrol or another state law enforcement agency.
The district includes Issaquah, Sammamish, Bellevue, Redmond, Woodinville and parts of unincorporated King County.
On the Web
Learn more about the King County District Court Northeast District judicial candidates online.
Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Paige Collins: 392-6434 or email@example.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.