Judicial Questionnaire 2022
Candidate Name: Judge Coreen Wilson
Position Sought: King County Superior Court Judge – Pos. 30
Are you an incumbent for this position? Incumbent
Home Legislative District: 5
Campaign Manager or Point of Contact: Mary Ann Ottinger
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 27113, Seattle, WA 98165
Part I – Candidate Background
1. Please describe your qualifications, education, employment, past community and civic activity, as well as any other relevant experience.
I was a civil trial lawyer for 22 years and tried more than 40 cases. Over the years, I became recognized as a leader in trial advocacy. I am on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and teach trial skills to younger lawyers. I am also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), an elite organization that limits its membership to experienced and effective advocates. I have taught at ABOTA’s Masters in Trial Seminar twice and am the co-chair of this year’s seminar. During the pandemic, I tried the first binding civil jury trial to be litigated via Zoom. This experience generated a passion for technology and an innovative approach trial advocacy via video conference. I have since become a leader in this field and have spoken across the country regarding remote litigation. I recently authored a practice guide on remote witness testimony for Lexis Nexis, a legal publication, which is currently in the editorial review process.
I have also dedicated time to improving my community and educating young people about the justice system and its important role in our democracy. I volunteered locally as a member of the City of North Bend’s Economic Development Commission and later as a member of the Planning Commission. I have also been involved in the YMCA Mock Trial competition at multiple levels: as a coach, as an attorney rater for both the local and State competition, and many years ago as a participant.
2. What prompted you to run for this office?
Late last year, I was appointed by Governor Inslee to fill a vacant seat on the King County Superior Court. By law, I am now required to run for election to retain my position I applied for appointment to this position because I want to do something that matters with the experience I have gained during my career – something that helps people and affects the people of our state in a positive way.. As a judge, I am privileged to do that every single day. Because of the extensive backlog of trials created during the COVID pandemic, I am also able to use my learned experience with remote technology to help my fellow judges reduce this backlog in a fair and more expedient manner.
3. What do you believe are the most important qualifications for a judge or justice?
The most important quality for a judge is retaining a sense of humility. Humility is the understanding that you come to the bench with your own perspective based on life experiences and must always seek to listen and learn the unique perspective of the people in the courtroom. A judge with humility acknowledges that that this learning is a lifelong process and an important part of the road to equity in the justice system.
4. What priorities are you seeking to address with your campaign?
Access to justice is critically important. One way we can increase access with immediate results and low cost is through the use of technology. As more proceedings have become accessible remotely, we have seen much more diversified juries, better court attendance by litigants, and lower legal costs. We need to leverage technology to the fullest to improve access to justice and efficiently work through the court’s backlog.
Part II – Access to Justice
1. If elected, how will you work to improve access to justice, particularly for communities and constituencies that do not understand the American legal system?
This is an area where humility and patience play key roles. Taking the time to stop and explain proceedings to pro se litigants and often others represented by counsel at the start is one of a myriad of solutions. Parties often come before the court in crisis. They are already under intense stress, and adding a language and/or cultural barrier can make the process seem even more scary — and even unfair. By explaining at the beginning of a proceeding: (1) the purpose of the proceeding; (2) the procedure they can expect; and (3) what is expected of them, the process becomes a bit less intimidating. Remembering to have patience and allow everyone an opportunity to be heard is tantamount to fostering confidence in our justice system by all communities.
There are many other ways to assist people, particularly those representing themselves, to feel comfortable and confident appearing in court. Plain language court forms and the use of court facilitators or advocates in family law and domestic violence proceedings are other ways. The key, however, is a recognition by the judge that the parties do not have the same level of comfort and familiarity with the justice system as do the judges and lawyers and often feel overwhelmed. Patience and empathy go a long way to ensure that each party has an opportunity to be heard so that real justice can be done.
2. Is Washington relying too much on court fees to cover the cost of operating our judicial system? How do you believe our courts should be funded?
Washington is moving away from this model, which is a positive step. Justice should be funded through the State and local budgets and not paid out of the pockets of those who are often already economically disadvantaged.
3. Would you, if elected, bring restorative justice as a goal to your court room? * If yes, describe how that could look.
Yes. The highest and best outcome is a system that sets people up for success. All too often, people come into the criminal justice system because they are struggling with issues such as substance abuse disorder or untreated mental health challenges. In recent years, more and more programs have been developed to assist people in addressing the root problems that often repeatedly bring them into the criminal legal system so that they can heal. As a judge, I will continue to learn to recognize the issues and needs of the people before me and structure solutions that connect them with the right services. Funding for those services, however, remains an ongoing challenge.
4. What ideas can you offer to make our judicial system more open, transparent, and responsive?
To be open and transparent, the system needs to be understandable to someone without a law degree, which is why I explain proceedings to pro se litigants in plain language and inquire of them if they understand. Technology can also help – livestreaming proceedings makes them more accessible and transparent to the general public. Conducting jury selection over a remote platform such as Zoom allows more people to participate and has resulted in more diverse juries. I advocated for a change in the court rule to allow remote jury selection, and I also serve on the Board of Judicial Administration’s Remote Proceedings Workgroup to explore other ways we can leverage technology to increase participation and lower litigation costs.
5. What are your thoughts on how our courts could permanently incorporate the growing virtual options after the need of the pandemic has passed?
I am passionate about expanding the use of technology. In addition to my participation on the Board of Judicial Administration’s Remote Proceedings Workgroup, I am also involved in a committee working to modify the court rules to recognize and encourage the continued use of technology in court. Virtual options allow those required to appear in court to do so without the costs of time off work, transportation, and child care.
For example, in addition to remote jury selection, there are many proceedings, such as depositions and mediations, than can be conducted over video, which also lower litigation costs. A shift in the court rules to recognize and govern these proceedings is essential.
6. Justice delayed is justice denied, what are your thoughts on how to catch up on the current backlog of cases awaiting trail? Additionally what changes to the current court system would you implement to insure speedy justice?
One of the advantages of technology is a decrease in wasted time. Oftentimes, trial is drawn out by hours or even days as the court waits on witness availability and scheduling issues. Now that witnesses have the opportunity to appear remotely, trials move faster, allowing us to resolve more cases in less time.
7. What judicial reforms do you support to achieve greater equity and inclusion for BIPOC individuals in our communities?
Our Governor has made it a priority to diversify the bench, which has had many positive impacts. People coming into court now see a judiciary that better reflects the community. The diversity of judges has added new voices and perspectives and engenders respect.
I will continue my efforts in working with youth to foster their confidence and involvement in the justice system in a positive way. I will continue to promote diversified jury pools through remote jury selection. And I will continue exploring possibilities for the use of technology to increase participation in the justice system by everyone. No one should have to choose between losing their job or making their court hearing.
By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.
Printed Name Judge Coreen Wilson
Date (mm/dd/yy) 02/28/2023