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Presiding Judge Frank E. CuthbertsonLatest News

Mental Health Month

On April 28, 2015 the Pierce County Council and Executive adopted Resolution No R2015-52 proclaiming May 2015 as “Mental Health Month” in Pierce County.  Superior Court began a Felony Mental Health Court earlier this year; the first hearing was held on February 25, 2015. The court is presided over by Judge Edmund Murphy on Wednesday afternoons.  At the end of April the court had received 68 referrals.  By mid-May there were 15 participants in the program, with more scheduled to enter during the month.

Another Jury Scam - This time in Clark County

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


On May 5, 201jury resolution5, the Pierce County Council, Executive and Courts jointly adopted Resolution No. R2015-45, which proclaims the week of May 18-22, 2015 to be “Juror Appreciation Week” in Pierce County.   The Jury Administration Office, which serves Pierce County Superior, Pierce County District  and Tacoma Municipal Court, will be providing snacks to the jurors to recognize the service of Pierce County residents who serve on jury duty.  Judges from all three courts, the County Executive and members of the County Council will appear during the week to praise and honor the importance of their service.   In 2014, 80,310 county citizens were summoned for jury duty and 11,584 served as jurors in the courts. Good luck and best wishes on your retirement Judge Larkin

Judge Larkin with The Community Transformation Award for Drug CourtPierce County Superior Court Judge Tom Larkin will retire on July 31st. 2015.  Judge Larkin served 10 years in Pierce County District Court and 25 years in Pierce County Superior Court.  Prior to that he was in private practice in Tacoma.  Judge Larkin has been the Superior Court Presiding Judge and Juvenile Court Presiding Judge.  Among his many accomplishments during his tenure as a Superior Court Judge, he led the construction project involving the new courtrooms on the second, third and fourth floors in the County City Building.

As Juvenile Court Presiding Judge, he was instrumental in Pierce County’s detention reform efforts.  He became something of a national celebrity as an advocate for the Annie E. Casey foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI).  His love for kids and families is obvious and, combined with his consistent demand that the kids be held accountable, made him an effective advocate for change.  Judge Larkin was able to convince the former County Executive, John Ladenburg, to allow Juvenile Court to close part of the detention facility at Remann Hall.  The deal was precedent setting because it also allowed the Court to keep the capital funds that would have been required for renovation of the facility and use them instead to develop community based alternatives to detention.

And, of course, there is Judge Larkin’s ongoing role in drug court.  He has been a very effective advocate for therapeutic courts, including veteran’s court gamblers court and similar initiatives.

When asked what he plans to do next Judge Larkin said he will split his time between babysitting his grand-kids and trying to earn his membership on the Senior Professional Golfers Association Tour.  In the coming months he is expected to be engaged in a victory tour around Pierce County where he knows, everybody.  Being the son of a doctor with seven kids it is impossible to go anywhere without someone asking “..do you know Judge Larkin?”

We will miss Judge Larkin when he finally rides off into the sunset.

Congratulations, Judge Larkin!!!


By Judge Garold E. Johnson, Chair
Pierce County Superior Court Local Rules Committee

The Pierce County Superior Court Local Rules Committee is hereby submitting its proposed local rules amendments for review and comment by members of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association.  The proposed local rules amendments will be available for a 45-day comment period on the Pierce County Superior Court website at http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/index.aspx?NID=122, beginning March 31, 2015 through May 15, 2015.   The rules are also available on the TPCBA website at www.tpcba.com for the same time period.    Any comments, suggestions or questions regarding the proposed local rules amendments are welcome and should be submitted by email to or by phone to Judge Johnson at                  253-798-7572.  You may contact the TPCBA representative, Charles Johnston, at 253-473-3090.  All comments regarding this year’s proposed amendments must be received no later than May 15, 2015.

Following the 45-day comment period, the Local Rules Committee will evaluate all comments, make final rule changes and submit proposed local rules amendments to all the judges.  Approved local rule changes will then be submitted for publication by the Administrative Office of the Courts to take effect September 1, 2015.

Proposed Rule Change Highlights document 1 & document 2

The goal of the Committee is to efficiently facilitate resolution of cases without sacrificing quality.  The Committee also works to update the Local Rules to reflect the existing members of the bench, current law and procedures followed by the court.

This year the Committee addressed substantive amendments to the local mandatory arbitration rules. A proposed change to PCLMAR 2.1(a) would require that the statement of arbitrability requesting arbitration be filed no sooner than the date the confirmation of joinder is to be filed and no later than discovery cutoff date. Thereafter, a request for mandatory arbitration statement of arbitrability could only be filed with leave of court on good cause shown. The Committee also proposes adding subparagraph (f).  This addition provides that once a statement of arbitrability has been filed the trial date and case schedule created on the date of filing would be cancelled. Further, a mandatory court review would be scheduled 6 months after the filing of the statement of Arbitrability. 

To prevent post arbitration award “black hole” cases, the Committee proposed that PCLMAR 6.3 be amended. This amendment would provide that if the parties do not enter a judgment on the arbitration award within 90 days of the award and no request for trial de novo has been filed, the case will be dismissed. Further, the Committee proposes to amend PCLMAR 7.1(c) to provide that once a timely trial de novo request has been filed, an expedited case schedule will be issued setting a trial date in 6 months.

The Statement of Arbitrability form found in the appendix has been edited to include a certificate of readiness and reflect the 90 day rule discussed above.  

In addition to the substantive proposed changes to the PCLMAR’s, considerable effort went to editing PCLSPR 93 (adoptions), PCLSPR 94 (family law proceedings) and PCLSPR 98 (estates, probate, settlement of minor claims and court created trusts). These edits are proposed to facilitate clarity, accuracy and ease of understanding of the rules. There are several edits proposed.  While these edits are not intended to be substantive they may have a direct impact on a particular case.  Consequently, members of the Bar are encouraged to take the time to review the proposed changes.   

There are other proposed rule changes that are minor edits rather than substantive changes that I will not go into unless Bar members ask for further explanation or discussion.  As to all of the amendments, the Bench welcomes input from members of the Bar.  If you have a concern, suggestion or comment, we certainly want to hear from you.


Judge Garold E. Johnson


Pierce County Superior Court to host national jury management seminar
jury conf 2015.JPG

Jury administrators from around the nation are coming to Pierce County this month for a three-day advanced training seminar.

The Virginia-based National Center for State Courts selected Pierce County’s Jury Administration Office as the host after working together on a technical assistance study. The study was complimentary of Pierce County Jury Administration operations, and also identified areas for improvement and efficiency.

“This is the first time the National Center for State Courts has held this training in Washington State and we are pleased to have been chosen to host it,” said Pierce County Superior Court Presiding Judge Frank Cuthbertson. “This will be an outstanding opportunity for the staff of our Jury Administration Office to join their counterparts from across the nation, take our jury operations to the next level and become even better at what they do.”

The seminar, to be held March 25-27, is entitled “Fair and Effective Practices in Jury Management.” It will be conducted by Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts.

The training is limited to 40 participants and the registration list includes jury managers from all over the United States, including the U.S. Territorial Court in Guam. The Pierce County Jury Administration Office has 4 participants registered for the training.

Jury operations will be temporarily relocated to Courtroom 100 on the first floor of the County-City Building to accommodate the training seminar.

Congratulations to Judge Frank Cuthbertson and
Judge Stephanie Arend

The Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association honored Judge Cuthbertson with its 2014 Service To Diversity Award which Recognizes all aspects of diversity; optical, background, perspective, and racial.  Scott Candoo concluded in his Pierce County Lawyer magazine article: “His demeanor and humanity as well as diversity of background and perspectives provides the legal system and community of Pierce County a tremendous windfall”.

The Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association honored Judge Arend with its 2014 Outstanding Jurist Award Recipient for Her work with the YMCA Mock Trial program, Paint Tacoma Beautiful program, Judicial College, and the Pierce County Superior Court History Project.  In the Pierce County Lawyer magazine article, Paula Olson summed it up with these words:  “Judge Arend is very worthy of this Distinguished Service Award and we should all take an opportunity to congratulate and thank her for her hard work and commitment to improve our community”


Juror e-mail Scam

Residents of Pierce County have been contacted by e-mail about Notice to appear in court. The e-mail states the person is due in court March 12. There is a zip file attached to the e-mail.
Do not open it. It could be harmful to your device. 

These are fake, if you are solicited in this way, don't give these contacts any information.
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