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Churchill named ‘Outstanding Judge’

Island County Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill will receive the 2010 Outstanding Judge Award from the state bar association. - Jessie Stensland/Whidbey News-Times
Island County Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill will receive the 2010 Outstanding Judge Award from the state bar association.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland/Whidbey News-Times

Island County Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill may have a reputation for being hard on rapists and child abusers, but she also works hard in an attempt to ensure everyone has access to justice in the court system.

The Washington State Bar Association announced last week that Churchill will be honored, along with two other judges, with the 2010 Outstanding Judge Award. The award is presented for outstanding service to the bench and for special contribution to the legal profession at any level of the court.

Judge Churchill, along with Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen and King County Superior Court Judge Richard McDermott, received the award for their work on the Executive Committee for the Washington State Superior Court Judges’ Association during the last legislative session.

Churchill said she worked with the legislators to retain funding for the justice system during a time of historic budget deficits. She said she was especially concerned with keeping the funding for courts’ Justice in Jeopardy initiatives intact.

“The three of us worked really hard and worked long hours making sure that we had some impact,” she said.

The Justice in Jeopardy initiatives are aimed at bridging the “justice gap” that exists in the state, especially between the rich and the poor. It provides for such things as adequate defense, parent dependency representation and equal justice funding in civil court.

Since the economic downturn, Churchill said she’s seen more and more people trying to represent themselves in court, which often isn’t a good thing in terms of justice for those individuals.

“I don’t think they really know what they are doing,” she said.

As a result of the judge’s legislative efforts, the state justice system was able to retain 96 percent of its previous funding.

Bar association president Sal Mungia will present the award at the WSBA Annual Awards Dinner on Sept. 23 in Seattle.

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