Judicial Questionnaire 2022
Candidate Name: Joseph Campagna
Position Sought: King County Superior Court Judge – Position 39
Are you an incumbent for this position? Incumbent
Home Legislative District: 32
Campaign Manager or Point of Contact: Mary Ann Ottinger
Mailing Address: PO 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 appointed by Governor Inslee to the King County Superior Court in August of 2022. I preside over civil, family law, and serious criminal trials. I serve a contributor to the Washington Supreme Court’s Gender and Justice Committee and serve on various court committees.
Prior to being appointed, I was the elected judge on the King County District Court. At the District Court, I was the Presiding Judge of the Court’s West Division, a member of statewide judicial committees, and one of the leaders in establishing and running the Shoreline Community Court. I presided over hundreds of cases, both civil and criminal, on every type of hearing from arraignment through jury trial. I was rated the top limited jurisdiction judge in King County in a recent Bar Association survey.
Prior to being elected in 2018, I was a trial attorney at the law firm Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, handling criminal and civil cases in courts throughout the region. My civic involvement as an attorney included service as a board member of Washington Appleseed, a non-profit dedicated to driving systemic change on social justice issues; a volunteer attorney at El Centro de la Raza free legal clinics; pro bono work for inmates seeking executive clemency at both the state and federal level; and pro bono work representing individuals seeking asylum in this country.
I graduated magna cum laude from Vermont Law School, and summa cum laude from Houghton College in New York. I do not have any past or present union affiliation.
2. What prompted you to run for this office?
I sought this office because I can make a difference. Our courts need judges who are service-minded, hard-working, and open to change. We need judges who embrace new technologies to increase access to justice. After service as a district court judge, I felt that I could make a positive contribution to this court. I was honored to be appointed and am excited to be running for retention.
3. What do you believe are the most important qualifications for a judge or justice?
A judge should be competent, patient, hard-working, fair, respectful, and empathetic. People from all walks of life pass through this court, often in their worst moments or times of crisis, and they need a judge who not only knows the law, but who has the patience and demeanor to treat everyone with respect.
4. What priorities are you seeking to address with your campaign?
I am prioritizing access to justice through virtual court options, better access in prisons to evidence based treatment programs, and competent and hard-working judges to help clear out a backlog of cases.
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?
We need to bring the court system to people in an accessible way. Our website needs to be modernized and intuitive. There is a tendency to create the website around the court’s needs, but it needs to be oriented to how the public uses it. We need to make sure we are budgeting to translate court forms into as many languages as possible. We need to be present in the community at local events. We need to continue to support remote access for court participants and interpreters, which increases our ability to support people in different languages. The court system is confusing enough — even to skilled attorneys. We can do much more to make it accessible to the public.
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?
In the past, fees were an unfortunately large percentage of court funding. Even small criminal cases often had exorbitant fines and fees tacked on regardless of nexus to the offense or ability to pay. Fines and fees accrued interest, trapping people in debt and perpetuating a cycle of poverty. A court’s ability fund itself through levying fees, of course, creates a moral hazard, similar to civil forfeiture, and undermines confidence in the justice system. Thankfully, recent changes to the law have sharply reduced the ability of courts to assess fees. Courts should be funded by the general fund.
3. Would you, if elected, bring restorative justice as a goal to your court room? * If yes, describe how that could look.
I will work in any way I can to help implement restorative justice principles in our court. I often see victims at a sentencing who want things the traditional sentencing model cannot offer. They want answers. They want closure. They want to feel like somehow their suffering made a change for the better. These things don’t fit very well into a traditional sentence that focuses on punishment. Restorative justice models are different. They take courage from all parties, careful implementation, and outcome tracking to ensure long-term success. King County has already implemented a juvenile restorative justice program. For adults, I think the most likely path to success is a pilot project attached to a therapeutic court like drug court.
4. What ideas can you offer to make our judicial system more open, transparent, and responsive?
First, we need vastly better online resources for unrepresented people. Figuring out how to file a case or report for jury service can be very difficult. Second, we need better access to different languages in our written forms and instructions. And finally, we can do better in providing remote viewing access for the public. Our courts are open to the public, but given the challenges with attending in-person, we can do more to facilitate remote public access in a way that protects legitimate privacy interests.
5. What are your thoughts on how our courts could permanently incorporate the growing virtual options after the need of the pandemic has passed?
King County has been at the forefront of virtual court options. The changes have greatly expanded access to justice. At the District Court, I pushed at every turn for more virtual appearance options. We kept our Community Court program running virtually, which allowed more resource providers to appear. We provided video options for every type of criminal hearing. At Superior Court, we have implemented fully remote civil jury trials, and remote voir dire for criminal jury trials. The remote voir dire has made it easier for people from all walks of life to participate as a juror, by eliminating expenses and time commitments. I support keeping all of these changes implemented.
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?
King County has been steadily catching up on its backlog, in part thanks to the remote trial options discussed above, which limited court downtime during Covid emergencies. There is still a large backlog of cases. For civil or family law cases, the court could help address this with more alternative dispute resources. For criminal cases, the State has made efforts to prioritize cases for trial. Ultimately, the way through the backlog from the court’s perspective is simply bandwidth—more available courtrooms. This is because the court has to make a trial courtroom available for filed criminal cases. Once a criminal case is filed, serious constitutional rights attach that cannot be limited for expediency. It is difficult to address the backlog in this way. More effective solutions look to diverting cases pre-filing or diverting them quickly into alternative methods of speedy resolution.
7. What judicial reforms do you support to achieve greater equity and inclusion for BIPOC individuals in our communities?
I support continued mandatory DEI training for judges, continued initiatives to diversify the bench, continued efforts to diversify our juries, more use of alternatives to bail in criminal cases, and continued focus on the ways that race can and cannot be used in trials of every type. Washington courts are in the middle of a sea change in the way we think about race in the justice system. It provokes hard but necessary conversations to bring more equity to BIPOC communities that have long been unfairly impacted by the courts.
By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.
Printed Name Judge Joseph Campagna
Date (mm/dd/yy) 02/19/2023