King County Superior Court Judge — Pos. 31 – Judge Marshall Ferguson

Judicial Questionnaire

Candidate Information

  • Candidate Name: Judge Marshall Ferguson
  • Position Sought: King County Superior Court Judge — Pos. 31 (Incumbent)
  • Home Legislative District: 1st LD
  • Democrat: The Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges and judicial candidates from declaring a party affiliation.

Campaign Information

Part I – Candidate Background

1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience.

See employment and professional history in question 2 below. I have not been politically active and have no union affiliation.

Education:

University of Washington School of Law
Juris Doctor, June 1999
Johns Hopkins University
Bachelor of Arts, May 1996
Major in Political Science; Dean’s List; Phi Beta Kappa

2. What law firms or public law offices (i.e. King County Prosecutor’s Office) have you worked for? Have you served as a prosecutor or a public defender? Please include dates, and title for each position that you have held, as well as areas of law practiced.

I was appointed by Gov. Inslee to the King County Superior Court bench in 2018, and this is my current position.

Following is my prior employment history:

Williams, Kastner & Gibbs PLLC, Seattle Office, www.williamskastner.com
Member (Partner), November 2012 to July 2018; Associate, April 2007 to November 2012

Represented buyers, sellers, lenders, brokers, loan servicers, title insurance companies, their insureds, in all phases of real estate related civil litigation in state and federal courts, along with regular transactional representation. Represented clients in aviation related matters including crash litigation, aircraft ground collision disputes, insurance coverage, and regulatory advising for FBOs, Part 91/135 operators, and a U.S. Forest Service air tanker contractor. Occasionally defended clients in claims involving Uniform Commercial Code, securities regulation, insurance bad faith, insurance coverage, discrimination/harassment, and the Consumer Protection Act. Chief Ethics Counsel and Chair of the firm’s Ethics and Loss Prevention Committee, conducting in-house ethics reviews, training, and handling all loss prevention matters. Advised and represented the firm and its attorneys in legal proceedings.

Floyd & Pflueger, PS (now Floyd, Pflueger & Ringer), Seattle, Washington
Associate Attorney, July 2002 to April 2007

Conducted all phases of civil litigation, most often relating to employment discrimination/wrongful termination, personal injury, and real estate disputes. Handled all litigation through solo jury trials.

Metz & Associates, PS, Seattle, Washington
Associate Attorney, March 2000 to June 2002

Represented maritime industry employers and their insurers in proceedings under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, as well as in assorted state and federal litigation.

San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Friday Harbor, Washington
Rule 9 Attorney, August 1998 to March 1999

Handled San Juan County District Court docket and appearances, including initial appearance, arraignment, bench warrants, and release/probation compliance.

3. Have you ever served as a mediator or arbitrator? (If so, please describe your experiences.) If you are an incumbent, do you perform settlement conferences?

I have not served as either a mediator or arbitrator. I am an incumbent Superior Court judge; however, I have been handling almost exclusively criminal matters since joining the court in the summer of 2018, and therefore have not yet had a chance to address the issue of settlement conferences.

4. Have you been a judge pro-tem? If so, what was that experience like? What did you learn from it?

Prior to my appointment to the Superior Court, I served as a Judge Pro Tem in the Edmonds Municipal Court for Judge Linda Coburn. I enjoyed my experiences serving a small community, and I benefited immensely from Judge Coburn’s mentorship. I learned the critical necessity of time management while handling a high volume docket. I reacquainted myself with criminal procedures such as arraignments, probation reviews, and sentencing. All proceedings were video and audio recorded, so I was able to fine tune certain aspects of my judicial demeanor. I began to develop a judicial philosophy in criminal law that balances accountability for violations of the law with leaving the door open to redemption and restorative justice. Most importantly, I observed first-hand how a community’s sense of justice can be impacted by a single person leaving the courthouse satisfied that, whether she won or lost, she was heard.

5. What do you believe are the most important qualifications for a judge or justice?

a. A genuine desire to see that justice is done in every case;
b. Prior experience as a judge pro tem or other neutral decision-maker;
c. The ability to calmly prioritize and make decisions while under pressure;
d. A reputation for empathy and compassion;
e. Critical and strategic thinking, in particular the ability to hypothesize regarding the potential, likely downstream consequences of court orders;
f. Patience, especially the ability to deal with difficult personalities;
g. Attention to detail and a track record of handling complex matters to completion.

6. What prompted you to run for this office? What priorities are you seeking to address with your campaign?

I had always been interested in a possible career in the judiciary, but the presidential election of 2016 impelled me to seek a position as a judicial officer sooner rather than later. In the weeks and months after that election, it became clear to me that certain values that I cherish were under threat — basic values such as the rule of law, an independent press and judiciary, and individual civil rights. I also perceived another obvious danger: that the tenor of our nation’s public conversation regarding topics such as gender, race, and immigration had veered sharply toward violent rhetoric and open contempt for the civil rights and voting rights gains of the past six decades. Having resided in five states and traveled to many others, I’ve found that Washington is exceptional in its commitment to those rights and values. Within Washington, King County holds a unique status as the most populated and most diverse county. The County’s government, while not flawless, has been consistently dedicated to the ideals of the rule of law, equitable voting rights, and access to justice for the whole community. The rule of law does not just happen. Civil rights do not protect themselves. An equitable and accessible justice system does not arise out of goodwill alone. It takes many dedicated people, including judges, to make those things happen. As a practicing lawyer, my clients and I had, on many occasions, benefitted directly from the fairness of King County’s court system and from the hard work of its judges and court staff. After the 2016 election, I decided to leave private practice, pitch in, and to devote my legal skill and values to serving King County and our great state of Washington, which have given me so much.

7. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?

I have retained a campaign consultant and campaign committee officers, and have obtained (and continue to obtain) endorsements and judicial evaluation ratings. At the present time, I do not have any known or rumored opposition, but if I do, I am confident I will be able to raise sufficient funds to get my message and values out to the voters. In the meantime, I am contacting all known endorsing groups to seek support.

 

Part II – Position-specific

1. Do you support making it easier for Washingtonians who are not members of the bar to access public records, particularly at the Superior/District court levels, where per-page fees are charged?

Yes, provided that sufficient safeguards are in place to prevent frivolous/vexatious requests, or abuse by organizations or individuals who make high volume copy requests and who possess the means to pay for such copies. Just as access to a public defender is means-based, I would favor means-based free access to public records.

2. Do you have any thoughts on how our courts should address the growing use of smartphones during court proceedings, particularly by jurors?

Smartphones can be a useful tool for lawyers, parties, and the public during legal proceedings, so long as they are not disruptive. Generally, I do not allow any photos or video in the courtroom without the Court’s permission, but I often allow use of smartphones for legal research, finding a document, or even presenting evidence such as texts or photos in certain circumstances. Smartphone use by jurors must be treated with far more caution, however. In order to ensure that the parties to an action receive a fair trial, it is of vital importance that the only information that jurors see and hear about the case come from the evidence presented by the parties. Jurors should not use smartphones to try to research the facts or the law applicable to a case. Nor should they post information about the case on social media. I could be persuaded that smartphone technology could somehow enhance in-trial jury service, but I have yet to come across such technology.

3. 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?

Ideally, courts would always be funded solely from general budgets, not from court-generated fees. Like police and fire departments, courts should not be treated as financially self-sustaining revenue generators, let alone profit centers. They should never be funded based solely or primarily upon internally generated revenues. That being said, many Washington municipalities and governments utilize court fees to fund or supplement the cost of court operations. Fees can also be a useful method of curtailing abusive or excessive court filings. Many court fees can be waived based upon indigency, and I would favor examining ways in which fees might be reduced, waived, or eliminated in situations where they create a barrier to justice for persons of limited means.

 

Part III – 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?

It starts on an individual scale, by asking people who come before the Court whether they understand what is happening today. If they are pro se, have they sought an attorney? Do they need an interpreter and can an interpreter be found? Funding for interpreters and court system training has remained flat for over a decade while the needs and costs for those essential services have increased dramatically. When I meet with local legislators, I will express my support for the judiciary’s 2019-2021 request for $2.1 million to help more cities and counties with the rising cost of providing credentialed court interpreters.
I will also be participating in high school mock trials and Constitution Day events at local schools.

2. What does the phrase Black Lives Matter mean to you as a judicial candidate?

It means Black lives matter. It grieves me that this simple declaration is necessary, but it is. Across the nation, there have been too many instances of unjustifiable lethal force used by law enforcement officers against unarmed black people and other people of color. Often, these episodes stand in glaring contrast to episodes in which demonstrably dangerous, armed white criminal suspects are carefully de-escalated, captured without violence and, in one egregious case, treated to Burger King by police on the way to jail. Many people consider these grossly different outcomes as proof that black lives don’t matter in the United States. The phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ is a straightforward statement that the lives of black people merit the same de-escalation efforts, the same attempts at non-lethal resolution, as occur when law enforcement apprehends white suspects. Just as it would be ludicrous to argue that “all cancer matters” in response to a charity for breast cancer or lung cancer, it is ludicrous to argue that “all lives matter” in response to Black Lives Matter.

3. What ideas can you offer to make our judicial system more open, transparent, and responsive?

The Court should provide online, multi-language videos for navigating the Court system that generally explain what to expect when you show up for one kind of activity or another; where to go, what you will see, what floor(s) to visit, how long things might take, and where to find assistance. Too often, visitors to the downtown Seattle courthouse, whether jurors, witnesses, or parties, are confused and stressed as they navigate security, unfamiliar signage, windowless corridors, and offices tucked away in odd places. Having videos available beforehand and on smartphones could greatly ease that confusion and stress.

 


By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.

Printed Name: Judge Marshall Ferguson

Date: 02/03/2019

Comments are closed.