Municipal Court Judge
The City of Mercer Island, Washington is seeking a part-time Municipal Court Judge to provide judicial services to the Municipal Court of the City of Mercer Island for a four-year term, commencing January 1, 2022 and expiring on December 31, 2025, following appointment by the City Manager and confirmation by the City Council.
Mercer Island Community
Just over five miles long and two miles wide, Mercer Island is a true island community consisting of high-quality residential areas, preserved parks and open space, as well as miles of developed shoreline. Incorporated in July 1960, Mercer Island has its own sense of identity, distinct from its neighbors, Seattle and Bellevue. With a population of over 25,000, Mercer Island has been widely recognized as one of the premier residential communities in the State of Washington.
Mercer Island operates under a council-manager form of government, in which City Councilmembers are elected by residents to set policy and provide direction to the City Manager. The City Council selects a City Manager who implements policy and oversees all city operations.
Mercer Island is a full-service City, providing the complete range of municipal services including planning and zoning, public safety, fire and emergency medical, municipal court services, street maintenance, utilities maintenance, park maintenance and recreation activities, and human services.
Mercer Island Municipal Court
The Mercer Island Municipal Court was established in 2004. The Court has exclusive jurisdiction over traffic infractions arising under City of Mercer Island ordinances and exclusive original criminal jurisdiction of all violations of City ordinances. The Municipal Court also has original jurisdiction of all other actions brought to enforce or recover license penalties or forfeitures declared by City ordinance or state statute. The Court is staffed by a Court Administrator and two Court Clerks and is located at Mercer Island City Hall (9611 SE 36th St).
The City is in the process of conducting a Municipal Court Study to identify strategies to improve existing court practices and to evaluate potential alternatives to the Mercer Island Municipal Court, such as contracting for court services with King County or another municipality. The Study is targeted for completion by the end of the second quarter of 2022 and will be presented to the City Council for consideration upon completion. The City is seeking a candidate who will actively engage in this study and who is committed to evolving court operations to meet present day needs and to improve efficiency in the administration of justice.
The Position of Municipal Court Judge
Working up to 20 hours per week, the Municipal Court Judge presides over and adjudicates a variety of hearings and trials related to criminal and civil cases in accordance with established legal procedures and prescribed in Washington State law, imposes appropriate sentences and penalties as prescribed by law, and communicates with City, County, and State criminal justice agencies. The Judge is appointed by the City Manager and confirmed by the City Council for a 4-year term. The Municipal Court is an independent branch of City government.
The following details the essential functions of the position:
- Presides over and adjudicates a variety of Municipal Court hearings and trials in criminal and civil cases in accordance with Washington State law.
- Presides over, directs, and controls jury trials, pretrials, arraignments, post-conviction reviews, and other hearings.
- Reviews and signs warrants and other court orders; researches legal issues and maintains current knowledge of legislative changes impacting Municipal Court procedures, criminal, and traffic laws.
- Hears, tries, and adjudicates a variety of cases such as misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor crimes, traffic and parking violations (including mitigation and contested hearings).
- Hears and weighs testimony and evidence presented to render an appropriate verdict; imposes just sentences and penalties as prescribed by law; utilizes alternatives to incarceration such as electronic home detention, and remedial and community service programs as appropriate.
- Directs the preparation and maintenance of court dockets as well as supporting documents; assuring proper collection, disbursement and accounting for fines and other monies paid to the City.
- Communicates with various community agencies, mental health court, and County offices regarding probation, specific referrals, driving records, domestic violence cases, common defendants, and treatment programs available for mental health and alcohol problems.
- Communicates with a variety of City departments including the City Manager's Office, City Attorney's Office, Finance Department, Police Department, and others as needed.
- Oversees the daily operation of the Municipal Court and all employees assigned to perform court functions, including the Court Administrator. Provides leadership and guidance and conducts performance evaluations.
- Speaks to community groups, presides at ceremonial functions, and administers oaths of office and other similar duties prescribed by law or as requested by the City Manager or City Council.
- Performs all other related duties according to and governed by GR 29, as assigned, or requested.
Note: The City of Newcastle, Washington has an interlocal agreement with the City of Mercer Island to provide court services through December 31, 2021, which may be renewed. This work is included as part of the estimated 20 hours of work each week.
The City of Mercer Island is seeking an effective, fair, and principled jurist in a community with high expectations and standards. An innovative, forward thinking, energetic, and highly committed professional with strong communication and leadership skills is necessary. The ideal candidate will have strong experience and competence in general areas of municipal court operations and administration. The Municipal Court Judge must have a customer focus and the ability to administer court operations in an efficient, transparent, and equitable manner. The Judge must be able to represent the City positively and effectively within the community, the region, and state.
The position requires a positive individual, who also possesses a willingness to identify problems and demonstrates the flexibility to address changes in policies and procedures as well as direction if facts warrant such change. The Judge must be fair and equitable in approach to managing others and must be willing to encourage individuals to grow professionally as well as personally.
The successful candidate will be expected to possess the following knowledge, skills, and abilities:
- Knowledge of United States and Washington State Constitutions and judicial systems; State and local Municipal Court rules, procedures, Rules of Evidence, and laws of arrest; County laws; Washington Administrative Code; and, State laws and City ordinances pertaining to civil, traffic, and criminal cases.
- Knowledge and experience in the trial of court cases and/or administrative proceedings.
- Knowledge of available remedial and community service and treatment programs.
- Knowledge of City organization, operations, policies, and objectives.
- Ability to communicate effectively, orally and in writing, to a diverse audience in a tactful, patient, and courteous manner.
- A demonstrated ability to establish and maintain cooperative and effective working relationships with others.
- Ability to impartially hear and weigh testimony and evidence and impose appropriate sentences and penalties in accordance with the laws of the State and the City of Mercer Island.
- Ability to read, interpret, apply, and explain codes, rules, regulations, policies, and procedures.
- Ability to analyze situations accurately and adopt an ethical and effective course of action.
- Ability to make difficult decisions under stress, and to be fair, open minded, and committed to equal justice under the law.
- Ability to demonstrate interpersonal skills using tact, patience, and courtesy, and establish and maintain cooperative and effective working relationships with others.
- Knowledge of techniques and practices for effective and efficient management of allocated resources, including personnel administration, labor law, accounting and budgeting.
Education and Experience
The minimum requirements for submitting applications include:
- Must be a U.S. and Washington State citizen and a resident of King County.
- Must be an attorney in good standing on active or judicial status with the Washington State Bar Association.
- A minimum of five years broad legal background with emphasis on criminal law required, preferably in the public sector with five years experience in criminal courts of limited jurisdiction as a judge or as a prosecuting and/or defense attorney; or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience.
- Experience as a judge or judge pro tem is required.
- Must agree to a criminal background investigation and review of his/her file with the state bar association.
- Must take an oath of office and be bondable in the amount of $10,000.
- For purposes of warrant issuance, must reside within a reasonable distance from City Hall and must be willing to perform some job duties on evenings and weekends as necessary.
Other City Requirements:
- Ability to drive a City vehicle, possess a current and valid Washington State driver's license (or ability to obtain one within 30 days of residency) and have an acceptable driving record. A current Abstract of Driving Record (ADR) will be required.
- Acceptable personal reference check results.
- Completion of an I-9 Form, documenting eligibility to work in the United States.
- Effective October 1, 2021, all new hires to the City will be required as a pre-condition of employment to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to their start date. If you have questions or need an accommodation for this requirement due to a disability or religious reason, you can speak to Human Resources for further information.
Application and Selection
Recruitment for this position closes November 8, 2021. To be considered, please apply through https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/mercerisland. Visit our website for more Information about the City of Mercer Island at www.mercerisland.gov.
Following the closing date, applications will be screened in relation to the criteria outlined above. Candidates selected for the interview process will be notified and reference checks will follow. Interviews are tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, November 17 and will be conducted virtually using the Zoom platform. Semi-finalists will be invited for a second interview on Friday, November 19. The finalist should plan for an expedited employment agreement negotiation, likely occurring the week of November 22.
The City of Mercer Island is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We value diversity at all levels of our workforce and are committed to fostering an inclusive environment by recruiting talented individuals from various backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other protected status.