Archive for Superior Court Commissioners

Superior Court Commissioners

Many who have gone to Superior Court have found themselves in front of what is called a Court Commissioner, many mistakenly think this person is a Judge but that is not the case.

A Superior Court Judge is a elected position in this state and must run for office every four years, after each election must affirm a Oath of Office which is Constitutionally required to be filed at the Secretary of State Digital Archives  and generally available for online public inspection, but always is available for inspection in person. A Commissioner is Appointed by a Judge and serves at the pleasure of the appointing Judge.

A Commissioner is Constitutionally allowed under Article IV Section 23-

SECTION 23 COURT COMMISSIONERS. There may be appointed in each county, by the judge of the superior court having jurisdiction therein, one or more court commissioners, not exceeding three in number, who shall have authority to perform like duties as a judge of the superior court at chambers, subject to revision by such judge, to take depositions and to perform such other business connected with the administration of justice as may be prescribed by law.

The Washington Supreme Court in many case has ruled that any position set forth in the Constitution is dictated by those terms, ie that no authority (the legislature/executive/Judiciary) has the power to change the conditions spelled out in the Constitution, as it is both the maximum and minimum qualifications/standards. There exists a mechanism to modify the founding document via Public Vote for a Constitutional Amendment (which by design is a difficult process) or a super majority vote of the legislature. No Legislative act like a RCW, executive decree, or say a judicial Court Rule can override the specifics set forth in the Constitution.

Given the above statement on the power of the Constitution the lay person may say “Section 23 does not mention anything about a Oath of Office requirement, so the Commissioners are not required to subscribe one” this would not be the case because the appointing power (a Superior Court Judge of that County) is required to take a Oath and not requiring the appointed position would in fact give the appointee more power than the Judge, so while this fundamental requirement is not mentioned it is by application required.

Section 23 is quite specific in a very important area “not exceeding three in number”. Three Superior Court Commissioners per County is the maximum allowed, in writing this I visited King County Superior Court Employee Directory Page  and found 11 active Commissioners listed and two additional vacant positions, one could deduct from this that because it is impossible to know which of the 11 are the allowed 3 that all of them would be disqualified for total lack of Jurisdiction.

In a recent Public Records Request (11-29-12 KCSC PRR email to 10-26 Request), to KCSC Chief Presiding Judge Richard McDermott seeking ALL appointments of all active Court Commissioners in response I was provided the following, Oaths of Office and Appointments

Oath of Office – Commissioners001.pdf

Commissioner Appointments

In reviewing the Commissioner appointments the following is revealed-

Commissioner Leonid (Les) Ponomarchuk was appointed by Judge Bobbe Bridge in August of 1998, he has never been reappointed since then. Problem here is that in 1999 Judge Bridge was appointed to the Supreme Court by then Gov. Gary Locke, Commissioner Ponomarchuk could not have served at her pleasure after that date.

The same scenario plays out over and over with all of the KCSC Commissioners listed, they serve at no Judges pleasure, and all but one have expired appointments.

Still remaining is the use of a Pro Tempore Commissioner, what the hell these are I don’t know, absolutely no mention in the Constitution for pro tems, Judges yes Commissioners no.


More to come on this story….

Welcome to the SCJA

The SCJA is short for Superior Court Judges Association a Washington State licensed business, we are in no way affiliated with or a agency of the State of Washington, we provide fee based and no fee based Judicial accountability consulting, but here all you will find is plenty of free citizen focused resources all designed to enlighten the average person concerning the activities of our Judiciary.

Given the requirement we the people have for information about what our government is doing and how it conducts the business of the people this resource is born. The foundation of our republic is based on the principle that our government is for the people, of the people, and beholden to the people who created it not the other way around.

The last couple decades have brought enormous change to one branch of our government that has gone mostly unnoticed and has largely escaped public scrutiny, the Judiciary. Formation of many sub-groups from the “Board of Judicial Administration” (BJA), the “Administrative Office of the Courts” (AOC), to the re-animation of long since dormant associations (District, Municipal Court Judges), and “The Association of the Superior Court Judges of the State of Washington“.

The most powerful tool available to the average citizen is knowledge, simply put one cannot control abuse of power if that abuse is shielded from inspection, what information posted here should be considered bread crumbs because the Supreme Court in our state has decided, under the color of law, that they are somehow immune and exempt from the single most powerful tool created in the last 50 years by the people- The Washington State Public Records Act (codified as RCW Title 42.56).

RCW 42.56.030 The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. This chapter shall be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly construed to promote this public policy and to assure that the public interest will be fully protected. In the event of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and any other act, the provisions of this chapter shall govern.

Nothing contained on this website nor any comments are intended to be legal advise and should not be confused for such, the legal arena is a complex and often confusing place, will a lawyer help you or become part of the problem for your specific case I can’t answer that question. Knowledge is power and if you have to interact with the legal system learn everything you can, it is cheaper online than in front of a black robe. If you need legal help for your case please seek those professionals, usually a phone number for one can be found on the back of most transit buses.

Many mistakenly believe our Justice system is Adversarial in design and construction between only the litigating  parties, do not fool yourself because everyone in the Courtroom is your adversary and deserves to be treated as such, including all Judicial Officers present.

Protection of your rights is your responsibility, never forget. No Judge or Lawyer should ever be relied on to protect you and your family from abuse or deprivation of rights, question this statement- just ask any father who has been through the Family Law system in our State.

Whether your visit here today is based on being thrown into a unfamiliar and frightening family law courtroom, a legal researcher, a member of the Judiciary, or simply have a passing interest in our Judicial branch of government please accept my warm and sincere welcome and comments are always appreciated.



Chris Hupy, Principal
Superior Court Judges Association