The Honorable Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock will simplify his title at the end of the year.
“Grandpa.” “Husband.” Perhaps “handyman.”
Hancock, 69, announced Monday that he will not seek reelection to the bench in the November election, ending what will be 32 years as a superior court judge.
The other superior court judge, Vickie Churchill, announced earlier that she will also be hanging up her robes after 24 years on the bench.
That means a court that has been so remarkably stable for all those years will have two new jurists making judgments come 2021.
After Churchill made her intentions clear, three attorneys filed their intentions with the state Public Disclosure Commission to replace her. One of the candidates,
Oak Harbor attorney Christon Skinner, said he now plans to switch and run for Hancock’s position.
Monday, Hancock said he is ending his career as a judge in order to spend time doing other important things. He has a son and daughter-in-law in Bellingham with his two grandsons, ages 2 and 6, and wants to be able to spend more time with them.
He and his wife, Elizabeth, own the 90-acre Aloha Farms in Central Whidbey; Hancock’s ancestors bought 40 acres of the property in 1886 and the rest in 1906. The historic farm needs a lot of upkeep, he explained, and he has a list of projects a mile long.
In addition, Hancock hopes to become more involved in community or volunteer efforts.
“Working as hard as I do, it’s hard to find time to do these things,” he said.
Hancock is a Coupeville native, a bagpipe player and a bicycle rider. On nice days, he can be seen biking to work.
Both Hancock and Churchill are well respected statewide and both have served on an extensive number of state judicial councils, committees and task forces. They both are recipients of the Washington State Bar Association’s Outstanding Judge of the Year award.
Superior court judges hear a wide range of cases, including felony crimes, juvenile justice, divorces, adoptions, probate, paternity actions and civil lawsuits.
Hancock said he has a strong sense of duty and takes his role as a judge very seriously. He said it’s vital that every person receive the justice and due process they are entitled to, but ensuring that happens in court can be a complex and challenging task. He said he always works hard to be prepared and strives for excellence.
“I’ve put my heart and soul into it,” he said.
Being a judge can also be emotionally draining.
Hancock’s most memorable case, he said, was the trial of Oak Harbor resident Ryan Stephenson, who raped a toddler and caused such horrific injuries that she was rushed to emergency surgery in Seattle.
Hancock sentenced him to 60 years to life in prison, beyond what the prosecution or the Department of Corrections recommended.
“It took a lot out of me,” Hancock said.