Island County Court District Judge looking for court commissioner

A long time court commissioner in Island County District Court resigned last week, leaving an opening for any lawyer who wants to wear a robe.

District Court Judge Bill Hawkins said he knew Commissioner Linda Kipling was planning on leaving, but he didn’t know the exact date until she handed in her resignation. He said her decision may seem sudden and unexpected to court staff, but “there was no notice issue.”

Kipling worked as a court commissioner for 13 years at the district court, which is also Oak Harbor Municipal Court.

Court commissioners are similar to the elected judges — and serve at the judges’ pleasure — though there are some limitations on what they can do. Hawkins explained that commissioners in district court aren’t allowed to handle any trials in criminal cases or jury trials in civil cases.

Court commissioners are practicing attorneys.

In a weird wrinkle in the law, Hawkins said, district court commissioners must be registered voters in the counties in which they work; court commissioners in superior court do not.

The scarcity of court commissioners in district court will mean more work for Hawkins, but shouldn’t affect the court or citizens, he said.

Hawkins said he will advertise the position until it is filled.

The court commissioner will earn approximately $117,000 a year, he said.

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