Pierce County Superior Court Judge, Position 10 – Camille Schaefer

Judicial Questionnaire 2022

Candidate Info


Candidate Name:     Camille Schaefer
Position Sought:     Pierce County Superior Court Judge, Position 10
Are you an incumbent for this position?     Non-incumbent
Home Legislative District:     27

Campaign Info

Campaign Manager or Point of Contact:     Karen Armijo
Website     www.camilleschaeferforjudge.com
Facebook     Camille Schaefer for Judge Facebook page

Part I – Candidate Background

1. Please describe your qualifications, education, employment, past community and civic activity, as well as any other relevant experience.

Education and Training
 Juris Doctor, Seattle University School of Law, 2005
 B.A., Organizational Management, Northwest University, 2001, Cum Laude
 Computer Forensics for Judges, National Computer Forensics Institute, June 2017
 Attorney Training for Service as Pro Tem: District and Municipal Court, August 2016
 Judicial Institute Fellow, Washington Initiative for Diversity, 2015
 Interest-Based Mediation Training, 30 hours, November 2007
 Collaborative Law Training, 12 hours, October 2007

Professional Experience
Court Commissioner, King County Superior Court, June 2018-Present
As a Court Commissioner, I preside over contested hearing calendars, including civil protection orders, family law hearings, contempt of court motions, and weapons surrender compliance hearings.

From October 2021 to January 2024, I served as a full-time Judge Pro Tem in a special term-limited assignment in the Unified Family Court department. I presided over trials and hearings and decided motions for revision and discovery, motions in limine, and other pretrial motions. Court leadership chose me for this position, which supported the Court’s effort to reduce the backlog of criminal cases following the COVID-19 pandemic while a regularly sitting judge moved from family law to criminal trials.

Administrative Law Judge, Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings, March 2017-May 2018
I presided over administrative hearings involving public assistance benefits through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) including childcare subsidies, food and medical assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and housing and essential needs. I also presided over cases with the Division of Child Support involving the establishment, modification, and enforcement of administrative child support orders. In addition, I presided over contested founded determinations by Child Protective Services, juvenile rehabilitation reimbursement, and special education due process hearings with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Magistrate Judge Pro Tempore, Seattle Municipal Court, April 2016-February 2017
I adjudicated contested traffic and parking infractions and ordinance violations. I also presided over mitigation hearings and contested settlement conferences that required deciding legal motions by evaluating evidence and witness credibility, followed by entering findings of fact and conclusions of law to support the imposition or denial of sanctions for violations. I directly interacted with people from all backgrounds and ensured each person was afforded a full and fair hearing, even in a high-volume, fast-paced environment. I served on an on-call basis several days per month.

Attorney, King County Superior Court Dependency CASA Program, April 2016-February 2017
Legal counsel for Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers in Family Treatment Court, a therapeutic drug court providing parents in the juvenile dependency system with access to drug and alcohol treatment, individualized and comprehensive family support services, and increased judicial monitoring. This was a part-time position, and I appeared in King County Superior Court two days per week.

Program Attorney, Family Law CASA of King County, September 2013-May 2016
Family Law CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a non-profit organization that trains and utilizes community volunteers to advocate for children whose parents are involved in contested custody disputes. These cases often involve poverty, high conflict, and issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. CASA volunteers gather information and submit reports to the court; I reviewed the reports for legal content and adherence to program standards. I represented the CASA program and advocates in all aspects of litigation. I also advised the Executive Director and program staff on legal issues and provided policy and procedural guidance. I hired, trained, and supervised legal staff, interns, and contract attorneys. In this full-time position, I appeared in court 3-5 times per week at hearings and trials. I managed 120 new cases per year with 90-100 active cases at any given time.

Associate Attorney, Carol Bailey & Associates, PLLC, June 2007-June 2011
I represented clients in all aspects of high conflict and complex family law litigation including dissolution and legal separation, child custody, financial support, and relocation. I also assisted with law firm operations and development of new business. I appeared in Superior Court on a weekly basis.

Attorney and Owner, Schaefer Law PLLC, 2006 and October 2011-April 2017
I owned this small business and ran a solo law practice representing clients in family law, domestic violence, guardianship cases at trial, hearings, and mediation/settlement conferences. I also assisted clients in adoption and estate planning and probate cases. I provided traditional representation and unbundled legal services for litigation and Collaborative Law cases as well as mediation services.

Adjunct Professor, Northwest University, Fall 2006, Spring 2007
I taught Business Law with an emphasis on contracts and business operations.

Associate Attorney, The Law Offices of Kurt D. Bennett, November 2006-June 2007
I represented clients in all aspects of family law cases.

Adjunct Professor, Kyoto International University, Kyoto, Japan, October-November 2006
I taught Business Law with an emphasis on contracts and legal systems.

Rule 9 Legal Intern, Davies Pearson, P.C., May 2004-April 2005
I was given intern assignments in practice areas including civil litigation, criminal defense, and family law. I appeared in Pierce County Superior Court and other jurisdictions as needed by my supervising attorneys.

Legal Intern, Kent School District, June 2003-April 2004
I updated district policies and procedures to ensure legal compliance, standardized student enrollment procedures and materials for district-wide implementation, and conducted training for school administrators and staff. I filed trademarks for district and school names, logos, and mascots. Additional projects included issues involving special education and labor management negotiations.

Adversary proceedings before administrative boards or commissions:
As an Administrative Law Judge, I presided over adversarial proceedings involving a wide variety of state agencies including the Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Child Support, Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, Child Protective Services, and the Health Care Authority. I also conducted due process hearings for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Presiding over administrative hearings required careful attention to due process and ensuring a level playing field for the individuals and state agencies appearing before me. Administrative hearings are at the forefront of providing access to justice and are designed to allow a fair and meaningful opportunity for people to be heard without having to navigate complex procedures often found in Superior Court.

I serve or have served on the following committees in King County Superior Court:
1) Unified Family Court Committee, November 2018 to Present
2) Security Committee, July 2019 to December 2023
3) Local Rules Committee, June 2019 to December 2020

I also serve or have served on the following committees outside of the court:
1) Superior Court Judges' Association (SCJA) Family and Juvenile Law Committee, 2018 to 2020 and 2023 to Present
2) Technology Enabled Coercive Control Work Group, Judicial Officer Subcommittee, 2020
3) Judicial Officer Advisory Group regarding the implementation of revised APR 28 for Limited License Legal Technicians, 2019

Community Service
 WASART (Washington State Animal Response Team) member, 2023-present
 Raising Girls, 2023-present
 Tacoma CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member, 2016-present
 Judge for Moot Court and Legal Writing Appellate Oral Arguments at Seattle University School of Law; 2006-present
 Judge for YMCA High School Mock Trial Competitions, 2018-present
 Judicial Officer Mentor with QLAW Mentor Program, 2019-2020
 Volunteer attorney with King County Bar Association Neighborhood Legal Clinics, 2008-2017
 Board Member with Communities in Schools of Kent, 2016-2017
 Volunteer attorney, Latino/a Bar Association Free English/Spanish Legal Clinic, 2015-2017
 Board of Trustees Member for the Greater Kent Historical Society, 2015-2016
 Judge for KCBA YLD University of Washington School of Law Mock Trial, 2015
 Speaker for Career Day at Cedar Heights Middle School, 2015
 Mentor with Seattle University School of Law Alumni program
 Volunteer attorney with KCBA Kinship Care Solutions Project, 2012-2013
 Volunteer attorney with the King County Family Law CASA program, 2006-2007; 2011-2013
 Speaker, Seattle Univ. School of Law Access to Justice Institute, Social Justice Mondays, 2011
 Coach, Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help Business Development Training, 2009
 Volunteer at New Beginnings Domestic Violence Shelter Hotline, approx. 2003-2004
 Advisory Board Member for King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, approx. 2001-2002
 I have also volunteered hundreds of hours at free neighborhood legal clinics for low-income folks and victims of domestic violence.

Legal Presentations
 Presented “Appointing & Relying on Parenting Professionals in Family Law Matters” for Family Court Judges Training, King County Superior Court, January 2023 and 1/19/2024
 Panelist on “Hate and Harassment in the Digital Age,” CLE sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, Cardozo Society of Washington, and other minority bar associations, 5/15/2022
 Presenter at King County Superior Court Pro Tem Commissioner Training, 3/16/2022
 King County Superior Court, Family Court Judges Training on Domestic Violence, 1/2021
 King County Superior Court, Family Court Judges Training on Child Support, 1/2020
 King County Superior Court Pro Tem Commissioner Training, “Tips from the Bench,” 5/2019
 Child Support and Related Proceedings in the Administrative Law Context, 12/2017
 Dependency CASA Training on the Guardian ad Litem Rules, 9/2016
 Dependency CASA Attorney Training, “Preparing for Evidence Problems,” 6/2016
 Family Law CASA New Advocate Training, “Law and Legal Process,” quarterly 2014-2016
 King County Bar Association, “The Responsibility and Opportunity of Drafting Durable Parenting Plans,” 10/2008 and 11/2009

Professional Memberships
 Washington State Bar Association, Admitted 2005
 Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association
 King County Bar Association
 Washington Women Lawyers, Pierce County, and King County Chapters
 International Association of LGBTQ+ Judges
 Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

2. What prompted you to run for this office?

Service to others has been a core value throughout my life. At this point in my career, judicial service represents the highest and best use of my skills and experience. I have demonstrated an exceptional work ethic and embraced the challenge of making well-reasoned decisions on complex legal matters. I have the experience and values to make an immediate and positive contribution as a Judge in Pierce County Superior Court.

I was sexually assaulted by my youth pastor in high school. When I spoke at his sentencing, I understood first-hand the power of courts to give a voice to someone who had been powerless. I became a lawyer to use this power to help others. I dedicated my career as an attorney to giving people a voice in court. As a judicial officer for over eight years, I ensure that my courtroom is a place where every person’s voice is heard. Not everyone gets the outcome they want when they go to court, but in my courtroom, everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

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

I aspire to be and am known as a jurist who is prepared and impartial in my decisions, many of which have a long-term impact. I am known for rulings that are thoughtful and carefully considered after each party is given a fair opportunity to be heard. I understand my role as a steward of the public’s trust, with the responsibility to recognize my own implicit biases and work toward eliminating bias and systemic racism in the court system. My years of legal and judicial experience make me an exceptionally well-qualified candidate for Pierce County Superior Court.

4. What priorities are you seeking to address with your campaign?

My background and years of service as a judicial officer will bring much-needed experience and stability to the Pierce County Superior Court bench at a time when there continues to be significant turnover. I have presided over thousands of hearings and more than sixty trials and will be able to “hit the ground running” on my first day in office.

I will also bring substantial experience working with families and persons in crisis, marginalized communities, and self-represented parties and will be a strong contributor to the administration of the Court, which will support improved access to justice for all persons who engage with our local court system.

Further, as a gay woman, my presence and perspective will add important diversity to the Pierce County Superior Court bench where there are currently no openly LGBTQ+ judges.

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?

Eliminating bias and improving access to the judicial system has been at the foundation of nearly every one of my professional endeavors since law school. Through my work as an attorney for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), as a volunteer lawyer for legal service organizations, as an adjunct professor, and now as a judicial officer, I embrace these values wholeheartedly.

As an attorney, I volunteered for years with the King County Bar Association’s family law helpline and neighborhood legal clinics, as well as legal clinics sponsored by El Centro de la Raza. These programs provide help to people who lack resources or familiarity with the court system. This also gave me experience working with individuals with limited English proficiency. Helping people navigate an overwhelming court process with interpreters was a rewarding and eye-opening experience early in my career. This continues today as I work with parties with limited English proficiency and interpreters almost daily in my courtroom.

As a judicial officer who presides over family law and domestic violence cases, I am mindful of the significance and potential long-term impact of my decisions. I am entrusted with some of the most precious and valuable parts of people’s lives, including their children, homes, and finances. For example, in March of 2024, I presided over a protection order case that touched on each of these areas in one woman’s life. I had to continue the hearing because service on the Respondent had not been timely as required by the statute. Through an interpreter, the Petitioner explained she could not afford to pay rent until the next court date, and she wanted to move out and have the children’s father (who she was accusing of domestic violence) move back in so the children could stay in their home until the final hearing. Based on the descriptions of abuse I read in her Petition, I wondered if there had been a mistake in the interpretation, so I asked again. The woman repeated the same answer. I was concerned that this was contrary to requests in the Petition, so I gave the woman an opportunity to talk with a DV advocate while I addressed a different case. When we returned to this case, the woman’s request was the same, so I reluctantly granted it. At the second hearing, after both parties testified, I had enough evidence to grant the Petition. I ordered the Respondent to move out and contribute to the rent so the Petitioner could remain in the home with the children. I took time to listen carefully to the parties, answer questions, and craft a plan for the Respondent to move out. In general, parties are better able to comply when they understand what the court orders, and in this case, access to justice required ensuring the parties understood the ruling in what was likely one of the most vulnerable and difficult times in their lives.

If elected, I will bring this perspective and focus to my work on the Pierce County Superior Court, which will support access to justice in my community.

In addition, I regularly mentor attorneys who are chosen to serve as new Pro Tem Commissioners. I make myself available, both during and outside of court hours, to answer questions and provide guidance as they prepare for hearings. It can be a challenge to transition from the role of an advocate to that of a neutral and unbiased decision-maker, and I believe providing support to new judicial officers is an important part of their success. I also mentor young lawyers and share with them the importance of making volunteer and low-cost legal services a part of their work. I serve as a resource for attorneys and legal aid professionals who represent people from marginalized communities. It can be challenging work and even discouraging for newer attorneys. But the importance of this work – building a community of lawyers committed to access to justice as well as ensuring new judicial officers are properly equipped to serve as effective, neutral decision makers – cannot be overstated. If elected, I will continue with this important work to support newer judicial officers on the Pierce County Superior Court bench.

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?

Yes; Washington relies too heavily on court fees to operate our judicial system. I am not opposed to reasonable court fees to supplement the cost of operating our judicial system. However, court fees must be assessed equitably and take into consideration a person’s ability to pay. Court fees should not limit a person’s access to the court or result in destabilizing debt that can adversely impact their ability to meet personal and family obligations. Continuing to scrutinize what court fees are assessed and the impact on those expected to pay is a critical component of ensuring access to justice.

Court funding is a complicated issue because while the courts are a separate and equal branch of government, they are dependent on state and local governments to provide the majority of their funding. Ongoing efforts are required to ensure that government officials understand court funding needs and the direct impact of insufficient funding on the court’s ability to provide crucial services and access to justice.

3. Would you, if elected, bring restorative justice as a goal to your court room? * If yes, describe how that could look.

As someone who experienced sexual assault as a teenager, I know firsthand the harm that is done to victims. I support restorative justice that incorporates accountability for an offender’s actions, provides reparation to the victim, and supports rehabilitation of the offender and safe reintegration into the community.

One of the benefits of restorative justice is that is a flexible tool that can be adjusted to fit the specifics of each situation. In some cases, it may include mediation or other conflict resolution programs. It may also utilize victim impact panels, family conferences, and/or community reparation boards. In appropriate cases, it can include communication between victims and offenders. I am open to utilizing this in my courtroom in a way that honors all parties’ needs and experiences.

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

Programs such as Judges in the Classroom, high school mock trial programs, community outreach, and speaking to young people are all ways that judges can build trust and make our judicial system more open and transparent. When young people have civic education and the opportunity to experience meeting judges this way, they are more likely to have faith in the system if they may engage with it later in life. I love serving as a volunteer judge for the YMCA Youth and Government Mock Trial program and was honored to do this most recently at the State Championship held at the Pierce County courthouse in March of 2024.

When parties come before a judge, they are often nervous, anxious, and scared. Often, by the time parties reach the courtroom, prior efforts to resolve their disputes have failed. Often, the judge is their last hope for justice. Whatever the outcome of their case, judges must ensure people feel like they had the opportunity to share their story – the opportunity to truly be heard. This is why it is so important for judges to recognize that people appearing before them come from all kinds of backgrounds with a wide range of experiences. As a judicial officer, I focus every day on building trust by meeting people where they are and by being as respectful, welcoming, and accessible as possible. I also ensure that court rules and procedures are enforced in a fair and predictable manner so that attorneys and litigants know what to expect as they engage with the legal system. In this way, people can feel that the justice system is responsive to their needs.

Creating a welcoming and safe environment requires judges to support initiatives to eliminate bias and discrimination in all facets of the legal system. I have done this throughout my career and have seen firsthand how it makes a positive difference. Judges represent the larger legal system to parties before them. This is why judges must be cognizant of the fact that every statement or decision they make can impact people for a lifetime. Increasing public trust and confidence in the justice system has never been more important.

5. What are your thoughts on how our courts could permanently incorporate the growing virtual options after the need of the pandemic has passed?

The pandemic increased needs for court access while simultaneously imposing burdens on the people we serve. I am particularly proud of my work as a Court Commissioner and Judge Pro Tem and efforts to make the court system more accessible. I have been an outspoken leader in our court for implementing and maintaining virtual court appearance options. This has significantly improved accessibility by low-income parties who need access the most. With adequate funding and technology support, courts can permanently incorporate remote access technology into many types of proceedings including protection order hearings, ITA (mental health court) hearings, pre- and post-trial hearings, voir dire (jury selection), and bench trials.

I’d like to share an example of how virtual options to participate in court proceedings can increase access to justice. In 2022, I presided over a dissolution trial with self-represented parties who struggled to present evidence. One party excitedly reported having a witness who could testify via Zoom. I observed that the witness, holding a cell phone to be seen on video, was wearing a hard hat and reflective vest, and from the faint sounds of machinery in the background, I realized he was at a construction site. I then recognized the grey molded plastic room where he was standing as the inside of an outhouse. While this is one of the more unorthodox locations from which a witness might testify, I understood that this was likely the only place he could do so privately and that appearing by Zoom for 15 minutes of testimony meant he did not have to miss work. This case reminded me that sometimes (perhaps often), access to justice means putting function over form so that parties and witnesses can participate in a meaningful way. Continuing to support virtual appearance options in our courts is a practical, tangible way to make courts more accessible to the people we serve.

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?

The pandemic created a huge backlog of criminal jury trials that will take years to resolve. This has consequences throughout the system. It strains our jails and mental health system, impacts the families of defendants, disrupts victims’ lives, delays civil matters, and adds a layer of distress when people already have enough to manage. It is crucial that our courts continue to prioritize the elimination of this backlog.

Victims, families, and the accused all need a system that resolves criminal matters in a timely way. Attorneys on both sides need adequate resources and manageable caseloads. From October 2021 to January 2024, I had the opportunity to directly assist with reduction of the backlog of criminal cases that resulted during the pandemic by serving as a full-time Judge Pro Tem in a special term-limited assignment while a regularly sitting judge moved from family law to criminal trials. While this was an effective tool, it required special funding that is no longer available. Without it, courts must continue to make difficult choices about where to focus limited resources to best meet this need. In addition, the attorneys who prosecute and defend the accused often struggle with insufficient resources as well, which impacts the ability to achieve speedy resolution. As with many situations, this is a challenge that can be most effectively addressed through increased funding, but without it, must be addressed through creative approaches while ensuring we utilize existing resources in prudent and responsible ways.

7. What judicial reforms do you support to achieve greater equity and inclusion for BIPOC individuals in our communities?

One way to achieve greater equity and inclusion for BIPOC individuals in our communities is to increase diversity in the legal profession and throughout related systems such as within law enforcement and local government.

Judges can improve diversity in the legal profession by being role models and providing mentoring and outreach, particularly to historically underrepresented communities and to individuals from non-traditional backgrounds. Youth & Law Forums are an excellent example of this type of outreach. I have been fortunate to participate in the Youth & Law Forum for several years in King County, and I look forward to participating in the upcoming Youth & Law Forum of Pierce County.

In addition, judges must be leaders within the legal profession and on the court, creating and maintaining safe and welcoming environments for all people. Just as important to recruiting people from diverse backgrounds is ensuring that there is ongoing genuine support, quality mentoring, and a commitment to valuing all voices within the legal community.

By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.
Printed Name     Camille J. Schaefer
Date (mm/dd/yy)     04/13/2024

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