Pierce County District Court Judge, Pos. 3 – Lizanne Padula

Judicial Questionnaire

Candidate Information

  • Candidate Name: Lizanne Padula
  • Position Sought: Pierce County District Court Judge, Pos. 3 (Non-incumbent)
  • Home Legislative District: 27th LD
  • Democrat: Per Judicial Cannons, I cannot say.

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.

I attended college at University of Denver where, in 1988, I obtained a BA in Psychology. After college I worked for the Washington State Court of Appeals (Div. I). In 1994, I graduated from University of Cincinnati College of Law where I earned a Juris Doctorate. For the first five years after passing the Bar, I served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Clallam, Jefferson and Franklin Counties. As a Prosecutor, I garnered experience in District Court, Juvenile Court and Superior Court. I was also a specially assigned Domestic Violence and a Drug Enforcement Prosecutor. In 1999, I went into private practice where I handled personal injury, marriage dissolution/child custody, criminal defense, appeals and administrative law litigation.

I have performed hundreds of hours of pro-bono service for unrepresented minorities. I have volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, UW Law School, Snohomish County Law Day, and Coast Savers (beach clean-up). I am a founding partner of Threads of Change (a nonprofit organization focused on building self-esteem for under privileged youth). Lastly, I was briefly a Reserve Police Officer for Bainbridge Island.

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 a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for five years in Clallam (1995-1997), Jefferson (1998-1999) and Franklin Counties (1995). In these capacities, I was assigned to the District Court, Juvenile Court, Superior Court and as the county-wide domestic violence prosecutor.

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?


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

I have served as a Pro-Tem Judge on many occasions. I have always had a keen appreciation for the adversarial process but, I must tell you that my first experience as a Pro-Tem Judge was quite different than I expected. As an attorney in Court, I have always felt decisive and knowledgeable. I expected to feel the same as a Pro-Tem Judge. However, I was startled by how different it is to be in Court as a Judge versus that of a litigator. Making decisions that affect people’s lives is a heavy burden that can never be taken lightly. I have sought the advice of more experienced Judges and I have learned that listening is one of the most important skills that a successful Judge possesses. Again, I’ve always known the importance of listening but until I actually sat as the Judge was I able to fully comprehend its significance!

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

I believe a Judge should have significant legal experience with a diverse perspective and the ability to properly deal with a multitude of legal issues. A Judge should have extensive knowledge of the law and practical application of those laws. A Judge must have the correct perspective and the understanding that the power that has been bestowed upon them is simply loaned to them in order to do what is best for the community they serve. I will abide by these beliefs at all times. I will ensure that each person in the Courtroom I am assigned, leaves with the clear impression that they were heard and afforded the opportunity to state their case. Further, I will assure that all parties understand the reasoning behind my decision. Justice and fairness will be the hallmarks of my tenure as a Judicial Officer.

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

I am an experienced Pro-Tem Judge, former prosecutor and private practice attorney running for Pierce County District Court Judge, position #3. This is the seat being vacated by retiring Judge Dacca who has served with distinction on the Pierce County District Court. I am running for District Court Judge because, after nearly 25 years serving as an attorney advocating for individuals, I would like to serve as a different kind of advocate – as an advocate for fairness and justice as a Judge. I want to address the inequities in our system by working to ensure access to justice is not a simple platitude but a reality in my Courtroom. As a Pro-Tem Judge, I hold offenders accountable for their actions while also ensuring that the justice system serves proactively to diminish further violation of the law.

I want to address the lack of diverse perspectives on the Pierce County Bench during my campaign.

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

I have hired a professional consultant, I have invested $50,000 of my own money, I have organized a fundraising committee with a Captain to keep our fundraising efforts organized and effective and I am shutting down my law firm in order to focus on my campaign.


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?

Respectfully, this is an issue for County and State Government. However, I firmly believe in the transparency of our Justice System.

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

I believe this is a very important issue because the jury hearing a case and deliberating over a verdict should only have access to the information presented in Court. Access to additional information should not be permissible. Emergencies do happen and there are occasions when a juror must be accessible to their family. I would work with Court personnel to ensure these needs are addressed on an individual basis.

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?

The Rules of Judicial Canons preclude me from answering this question. However, I will point out that recent caselaw has addressed the ability of defendants to pay legal fees and now Judges are able to waive many of the fines and fees. This will likely cause the legislature to readdress how the Courts are funded.


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?

First, I will work hard on the tracking system within the Court to document and address the discrepancies that exist between cases handled by private attorneys and public defenders. I believe that those with decreased financial means receive disparate treatment and this is a systemic injustice. Second, while I firmly believe that perpetrators need to be swiftly and justly punished, I also believe that we need to keep people working. The Court must work for access to work release programs so that people who emerge from punishment are employed. Lastly, I have witnessed many non-English speaking litigants being rushed through the system even though they are clearly evidencing a lack of understanding of what is happening. Interpreters are a critical resource for our courts. However, often interpreters do not get enough time with the non-English speaker and the attorney. Language difficulties can create a situation where the foreign-born or non-English speaking litigant is given only a limited understanding of our system generally and their case specifically. We must find a way to slow things down, provide more time for a greater understanding and increase access to interpreters within and outside the Courtroom.

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

Respectfully, the Canons truly limit my answer. I can say that as a Judge, I will work to ensure that every aspect of the Justice System must be objective, fair, and equal. I would add that historically, movements of this nature are necessary to move awareness and equality forward. This movement is no exception.

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

1) Perspective and Diversity: I have found that the Court and attorneys sometimes lose perspective about what the Justice System is trying to achieve. The lack of a diverse perspective can allow the Court to become entrenched and ineffective. Punishment for the sake of punishment is meaningless. Punishment to effect change must be the goal. But punishment is not the only tool in the Court’s tool belt. I want to bring a fresh, diverse perspective to the Bench in order to improve effectiveness and decrease recidivism and probation violation. People set up to fail, will fail. People prepared and motivated to succeed will succeed. This will be my focus on the Bench.
2) Accountability with compassion: The true meaning of accountability is often lost today. Accountability is an essential component in a person’s efforts to effect change in their lives. However, despite the necessity of accountability it is difficult and even painful for some people to hold themselves accountable. Our Courts must find a way to lead people to their own accountability. This can only be done with compassion. Compassion is the ingredient that makes the bitter taste of accountability palatable. I want to review how we sentence offenders and develop a more effective method in assisting offenders to embrace their own accountability and more successfully achieve a change in their law-breaking behavior.
3) Equality: Diversity and equality are not just about race. While race is sadly still an issue that demands consideration when talking about diversity and equality, we must also consider education, economic status and culture. I want to create and utilize a system that tracks case results so that we can analyze and discover areas of statistically disparate treatment. For example, are the results for public defense cases different statistically than the results for cases with private attorneys? If so, why is this happening and how do we shave off these inequities? If we employ a tracking system, the Courts will have data that can be analyzed to look for and eliminate disparate treatment. Our Justice System must be applied in a manner that is even and fair and it is up to the Judges to assure and demonstrate that this is happening.


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

Printed Name: Elizabeth Anne Padula (Lizanne Padula)

Date: 06/30/2018

Comments are closed.