Judge looking for new court commissioner

A longtime court commissioner in Island County District Court resigned this 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, though he didn’t know the exact date until she handed in her resignation. He said her decision may have seemed 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 and is located in Oak Harbor.

Court commissioners are similar to the elected judges — and serve at their 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 have to be registered voters in the county they work in; court commissioners in superior court do not.

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

Hawkins said he will advertise the position until it is filled. The court commissioner will make in the neighborhood of $117,000, he said.

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