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Presiding Judge Frank E. Cuthbertson

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New Jury Scams

We will never ask for your social security number, bank or credit card information, or ask for money over the phone.


amanda.jpgAmanda Kappelman named Student of the Year at Tacoma Community College

Amanda is currently an extern with Superior Court working on a Court History project.  She is also employed part time at the Attorney General's Office in Tacoma and enrolled in the paralegal program at Tacoma Community College.

young lawyers award for Daniel.jpgDaniel Badillo receives Liberty Bell Award

The Young Lawyers Section of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association honored Daniel Badillo, Pierce County Superior Court Interpreter, with the non-attorney Liberty Bell Award during their annual Law Day Luncheon. 

Chris Gaddis Named New Pierce County Court Administrator

Pierce County Superior Court today announced Chris Gaddis as its newest Court Administrator.  He will begin his new role on May 2, 2016.

Gaddis has had a 23-year career in law enforcement and has been the Chief of Police for the City of Normandy Park since 2012. 

The Superior Court Administrator is an executive management level position that is responsible for the overall operation of Pierce County Superior Court.  

The Superior Court Administrator is responsible for accomplishing the Court’s mission of promoting respect for law, society, individual rights; providing an open, accessible, and effective forum for the resolution of cases; resolving matters in a just, efficient and timely manner; assuring the dignified and fair treatment of all parties.

“Chris has extensive leadership and management experience,” said Superior Court Presiding Judge Frank Cuthbertson.  “We look forward to the energy and creativity he will bring to Pierce County.”

A seventeen-year resident of Pierce County, Gaddis earned his B.A. in Law and Justice from Central Washington University and graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command, where he focused on Business Administration.

Pierce County Superior Court honors jurors May 16-20

Pierce County Superior Court is sponsoring Juror Appreciation Week from May 16-20 to recognize the important service that residents provide on jury duty and to highlight and honor and importance of that service.

Last year, 19,881 citizens served on a jury in Pierce County. Jurors served on Superior Court, District Court, and Tacoma Municipal Court trials. They were selected from 83,249 people who were summoned to duty.

To recognize jurors for their service, Superior Court Presiding Judge Frank E. Cuthbertson will read a proclamation from Gov. Jay Inslee to jurors. In addition, the Pierce County Council voted unanimously on May 3 to adopt Resolution 2016-49, recognizing Juror Appreciation Week.

“We thank the more than 19,000 jurors who reported to jury duty last year,” Cuthbertson said. “We understand jury duty can be inconvenient, but the right to a jury trial is fundamental to our liberty and democracy. That’s why we commend the thousands of Pierce County citizens who reported to serve on a jury."

In honor of Juror Appreciation Week, court staff will provide jurors snacks and are encouraged to wear “We Appreciate Our Jurors” buttons.

More information is available at www.piercecountywa.org/jury.

Judge Jack Nevin will join Emory Law faculty for annual trial techniques advocacy program

Judge Jack Nevin of the Pierce County Superior Court will join the 2016 faculty of Emory University School of Law’s KesslerEidson Trial Techniques Program to be held April 30 through May 6. 

Judge Nevin joins an elite group of more than 120 jurists, practitioners, and legal scholars from across the United States and foreign jurisdictions, including Mexico, to teach in the prominent program which, over the course of three decades, has launched some of the nation’s leading trial lawyers and judges.

“We are very selective in choosing faculty,” said Emory Law professor, and Emory Law Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution director, Paul Zwier. “The group of faculty that will convene in Atlanta this year includes people who are at the top of their game – and who also have the teaching skills to train the next generation of trial advocates.”

Family Law Forms & Instructions

NOTICE:  Beginning May 1, 2016, new pattern forms will be accepted for all family law case and required as of July 1, 2016. Please see the new pattern forms at www.courts.wa.gov/forms beginning on May 1, 2016.

Therapeutic Court Partners win Awards

VA Awards.jpg

Left to right:  Benjamin Bauldauf, Jim Bolz, Davida Cohen, Marianne Clear, Judge Elizabeth Martin, Jerry Burrage, Michael Howard, Jamie Bonomo, Judge Edmund Murphy, Dea Finigan, Lisa Sinnitt

Pierce County Superior Court’s Judge Murphy; Judge Martin; Judicial Assistant, Dea Finigan; Felony Mental Health Court Coordinator, Marianne Clear and Department of Assigned Counsel’s Lisa Sinnitt attended the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System’s Social Work Month Annual Celebration and Awards Luncheon on the morning of March 23, 2016 to support award recipients and community partners.  Both of the therapeutic courts in Pierce County Superior Court benefit from working closely with Davida Cohen, the Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator for the VA Puget Sound – American Lake Division.  Of the community award recipients, Davida nominated many that help the veterans in Felony Drug and Mental Health Court succeed:  James “Jim” Bolz for his work with the Pierce County Incarcerated Veterans Program, ensuring veterans are connected with resources and support in the community; Benjamin “Ben” Bauldauf, volunteers as a Mentor, a strong advocate for veterans to gain access to services and works with those incarcerated through the Alternative to Violence program; Michael “Mike” Howard, volunteers as a Mentor, working with incarcerated veterans through the Alternative to Violence program and also serves as a Chaplain for veterans; Jerry Burrage works for Pierce County Alliance as the primary counselor for all veterans receiving co-occurring treatment in the veterans track of the Felony Drug Court; Jamie Bonomo serves as the court liaison for Pierce County Alliance to present the reports to the court and work closely the Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator and court personnel.  

Jury duty scams on the rise

Jury coordinators in Pierce County have received several reports this week of scammers working the phones to trick residents into believing they owe a fine for missing jury duty. 

Here’s what to look out for:

An unsuspecting person receives a call informing them that they have missed their summons to come to Jury Duty and now have a warrant out for their arrest. They are told the only way to fix the situation is to purchase a cash card from the store, call back a phone number they are given and provide the scammer the numbers on the card. Within minutes the scammers have received the money.

One local man was told he missed his Jury Duty notice twice and now had several fines against him, including a fine for Failure to Appear and Contempt of Court. His “fines” totaled $2,500. He followed the instructions he was given and went to a store, purchased the Visa-style cash cards, dutifully called the scammer’s phone number and gave them the numbers on his cash cards. 

Please keep in mind that Pierce County jury coordinators will not call residents. Those summoned for Jury Duty will receive official notices in the mail.

2016 Proposed Local Rule Changes

The Pierce County Superior Court Local Rules Committee hereby submits its proposed rule changes to take effect September 1, 2016. We are soliciting input and comment from the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association. We request all comments to be submitted by not later than May 9, 2016. Comments may be submitted by email to Judge Elizabeth Martin: . Click HERE to view/download a summary and a copy of the proposed rule changes.

Change in Administration Hours

All Pierce County Superior Court offices will be closed during the noon hour 12:00pm-1:00pm starting on February 1st, 2016. 

Pierce County Minority Bar Association Youth and Law Forum

The Pierce County Minority Bar Association PCMBA will hold its annual Youth and Law Forum on Friday January 15th from 10-1:00 in Room 100 of the County City Building.  Over 100 students are expected to attend from several middle schools in Tacoma.  The program is designed to allow young students to learn about their rights as well as providing information on how the justice system works.  It is also an opportunity for youth to meet law enforcement officers, defense attorney’s prosecutors and judicial officers and learn more about their careers. 


The attorneys have worked really hard to make this event a success.  The day begins with a mock trial beginning at 10 AM in Room 100 and ends with lunch in Jury Administration at 1:00 PM.  Thanks to all Superior Court Staff who have helped on this events. 


For more information contact:  Sabrina Ahrens or Alex Kirigin
Link to PCMBA website:  

New Public Request forms for Superior Court and Juvenile Court Administrative Records pursuant to GR 31.1

Effective January 4, 2016, the Pierce County Superior Court has adopted a new policy/procedure for requesting administrative records in accordance with Washington State General Rule 31.1.  The forms for request of records and instructions are available HERE.

Changes to Jury Duty

Jury duty has been shortened to one week or until dismissed by the court.
Your term of jury service is generally one week. This time may be extended if you are selected for a trial which may take longer than your original service requirement. 

What does “or until dismissed by the court” mean?
Once you are assigned to a jury panel, you will stay on that case until the court releases you from your commitment.

Superior Court Administrator Andra Motyka, will retire Friday, Nov. 20, after serving the Court for 20 plus years.

Andra has been a valued employee leading the court through the technology revolution and through major court facility redesign. In 2007 Andra was nominated by the Pierce County Superior Court Judges for the NACM 2007 Award of Merit. Andra received the 2007 Award of Merit, the highest award presented to a court administrator by the National Association for Court Management. The entire Superior Court family wishes Andra well as she embarks on new endeavors. 

A national search for her replacement are underway and we expect it will take several months. In the interim, John Ladenburg, former Pierce County Executive and former Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney, has agreed to serve as the Administrator of Superior Court.  John is an excellent administrator who understands the courts and Pierce County government. He has successfully assisted the Court previously as Interim Administrator of Pierce County Juvenile Court. John will assume the Interim Court Administrator position on Monday, Nov. 23.

Please join me in wishing Andra well and thanking her for her service. And also please join me in welcoming John Ladenburg as our interim Superior Court Administrator.

 -    Frank E. Cuthbertson, Presiding Judge of Superior Court

2015 Pierce County Local Rules (PCLR)

2015 PCLR effective September 1st, 2015.  CLICK HERE to view and download the Adobe PDF version. 

Please note the following change:

(a) Statement of Arbitrability. In every civil case, the party filing the note for trial provided by CR 40(a)(1) and PCLR 40 shall, upon the form prescribed by the court, complete a statement of arbitrability; except that a party may file a statement of arbitrability requesting arbitration at any time after filing of the complaint, but no sooner than the date the confirmation of joinder is filed and no later than the discovery cutoff date. [emphasis added]  After the deadline has passed, the statement of arbitrability may be filed only by leave of the court for good cause shown. 

This local rule change requires that the Statement of Arbitrability be filed only on or after the deadline for filing the confirmation of joinder and before the discovery cutoff date, absent leave of court for good cause shown.


Governor Appoints Michael Schwartz to Pierce County Superior Court Department 3

Governor Inslee announced last night that he has appointed Michael Schwartz to the Pierce County Superior Court replacing Judge Tom Larkin who retires at the end of July.  Michael Schwartz has over twenty two years experience as a defense trial attorney.  He among a select group of attorneys who have been qualified to handle death penalty cases in Washington.  He has also served in the military and, prior to becoming an attorney, he was a commissioned police officer in Hawaii.  Michael Schwartz is active in the community coaching youth sports and he has served as President of the Robert Bryan Inns of Court.   He also currently co-chairs the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association’s Criminal Law Section.  Michael will be a great addition to the Superior Court.  He brings a unique perspective to the bench and is well respected by the lawyers and judges in Pierce County.  Please join Superior Court in welcoming our new Judge, Michael Schwartz.

Additional information is available in Governor Inslee’s press release on the governor’s web site.


Superior Court Judges, Commissioners, and Spouses help build local housing.
Habitat for Humanity

On June 6th several judges, commissioners and their spouses helped with the construction of two homes at a Habitat build site.  They will have another opportunity in September to make this meaningful impact in our community.


Judge Whitener will visit Trinidad to promote human rights and tolerance.
Judge Whitener

Judge Helen Whitener will visit Trinidad from June 14-17 as part of the U.S. Embassy’s celebration of June as National Caribbean-American Heritage and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride (LGBT) months.

Judge Whitener was born in St. Augustine and migrated to the U.S.A. at age 16. She now sits on the Pierce County Superior Court, (the highest trial court in the State of Washington). She is the youngest woman of color to serve in such a position and is openly gay. Her visit is meant to promote human rights and tolerance. She will hold meetings with government officials, women’s groups and members of the LGBT community. Judge Whitener will also give a talk at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine on June 16 at 2:00 p.m.

Judge Whitener gives much of her time to speaking on various access to justice matters and is a member of the Washington State Bar Association, Washington State Superior Court Judges Association, Equality and Fairness Committee, National Association of Women Judges and the International Association of Women Judges.

She was featured in the local Express Women’s magazine in April.

New Jury Scams

Judge warns of phony payment demands for missed jury duty.
View the full article here
Clark County is reporting a jury scam via telephone that requires the resident to pay a fine and then show up to court on a specific date for a refund.  We will never request money over the phone.
View the full article

Kitsap County Jury Scam Advisory
For more details about Snohomish County
Juror Scams around the country



 Myths and Misperceptions about Courts
Do you wonder who the courts work for? Who can give you legal advice? To find out the answer to these and other questions check out this video - Myths and Misperceptions About the Washington Courts.

Juror Appreciation Week

New Criminal Division Presiding Judge (CDPJ) Protocols

New Mandatory Impact on Children Seminar Offered for Non-Parental Custody Petitioners

Changes to Ex Parte Procedure

Archived Superior Court News 

Bar News