Arrested judge won't fill in for Superior Court

State Supreme Court Justice Bobbe Bridge won't be hearing cases in Island County Superior Court next fall.

Bridge, who has a home on Whidbey Island, agreed to be a volunteer judge pro tem -- basically a fill-in judge -- for the local court. But after her arrest in Seattle last weekend for DUI and hit-and-run, Island County Superior Court Judges Alan Hancock and Vickie Churchill decided to have someone else fill in for Bridge.

"Rather than have any questions about a possible conflict of interest," Churchill said, "we decided it would be prudent to have someone else fill in so she can have time to deal with these issues."

According to Churchill, Bridge has acted as judge pro tem on one occasion and had been scheduled for two other times next fall.

The Superior Court uses pro-tem judges for times when Churchill and Hancock are on vacation or busy with trials. These temporary judges save the county a lot of money because they are on-call volunteers.

Churchill and Hancock asked Bridge to be a judge pro tem, Churchill said, and they were both delighted and surprised when she accepted. It's rare for a justice of the Supreme Court to act as a fill-in judge in a lower court.

Yet Churchill pointed out that Bridge would be more likely to run into cases dealing with drinking and driving and other driving offenses in Superior Court, as opposed to the state Supreme Court.

Bridge was arrested last Friday in Magnolia, where she allegedly clipped a parked pickup truck and tried to drive away. Police reported that her blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.219 and 0.227. The legal limit is 0.08.

Bridge apologized publicly for her actions, but pleaded not guilty Saturday to misdemeanor charges of DUI and hit-and-run. She stated she hopes to retain her position on the high court.

Bridge could not be reached for comment. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1999 by Gov. Gary Locke, won a contested election in 2002, the was re-elected unopposed to a full six-year term last November.

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