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Supporting Wallace for judge

 


I believe I am the only person who knows both Nick Wallace and Judge David Estudillo on both a professional and personal level. Judge Estudillo and I both started our careers at Jeffers Danielson, a Wenatchee-based firm which had a Moses Lake branch at the time.

David (as I called him then) started in 1999 and I started in 2000. We worked together there for just short of two years. Since then, we have attended some birthday parties and barbecues together with common friends when he was visiting from the Seattle area.

I have appeared before him several times in the past year after he was appointed to his current position. Nick Wallace and I have had cases against each other, I’ve appeared before him countless times when he served as pro tem judge, and he is in high demand as a mediator.

Nick has also coached (and continues to coach) my daughter’s soccer team for over five years, and I have seen his commitment to the team, the community, his family, and even my family. My 11-year-old daughter is his strongest advocate.

When the governor appointed Judge Estudillo, the press release made sure to point out that he was the only Latino state court judge serving in Eastern Washington. While I think diversity is important, the most critical thing for this position is experience.

Being qualified for a position is not a yes or no issue; it’s a sliding scale. Judge Estudillo is unquestionably qualified for the position of a Superior Court Judge, but Nick Wallace is much more qualified. To put this in perspective, the FAA regulates the licensing of pilots, and US Airways has hired many who are “qualified” to fly their airliners.

On January 15, 2009 it wasn’t just any “qualified” pilot in the cockpit, but fortunately Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who managed an unprecedented water landing that resulted in no loss of life. In that situation, years and years of experience, training, and judgment did what other qualified pilots would not have been able to do. It may never matter to you personally who is sitting on the bench in Grant County Superior Court.

You may never get divorced or have a paternity case, you may never have a property dispute of any kind, be accused of a felony, or of being an unfit parent (like CPS in a dependency case, or a relative in a nonparental custody case).

If not, then diversity may be the highest priority for you. If you did, you would want someone with years and years of experience, training, and judgment presiding over your case. While some attorneys are endorsing Judge Estudillo, most of them practice criminal law and other areas of law where the judge does not make the final decision, but primarily rules on scheduling, witnesses and testimony issues, and other evidentiary issues, while a jury makes the ultimate decision (unless it’s a bench trial, which is rare in criminal law cases).

Even sentencing has strict guidelines which remove a lot of the judge’s discretion. Constitutional protections give judges in criminal cases very little discretion.

Family law cases (which is what I primarily practice), however, are always ruled on solely by the judge, and they are given a huge amount of discretion. Even when they make what we think are clearly bad decisions, the court of appeals rarely overturns judges in family law matters.

This is why every family law attorney who has taken a position supports Nick Wallace for judge. Judge Sperline, who retired last year after serving longer than any other Washington Superior Court judge, has earned my respect (and I would say most of my peers) as a great legal mind: scholarly, compassionate, consistent, and judicious. Even when my client and I did not agree with a decision from Judge Sperline, he was fair, informed, prepared, and gave a thoughtful basis for it. I preferred to have Judge Sperline on any case I had, and many of my peers felt the same way. Judge Sperline was a “Captain Sully” of judges, and he deserves to hold the greatest weight of any endorsement for his former position. He strongly endorses Nick Wallace for this position.

Judge Estudillo has an inspiring background, truly an “American Dream” story, but that is not something you will care about when your family and property are being ruled on by whomever holds this position.

During those crucial times (much like the passengers on US Airways Flight 1549), all you will care about is that you have a judge with the wisdom, experience, judicial temperament, logic, and compassion that I have seen over and over again with Pro Tem Judge Nick Wallace.

I urge all voters in Grant County to join me, the vast majority of attorneys in Grant County, Judges Sperline and Jorgensen, Sheriff Jones, and my daughter Olivia in supporting Nick Wallace for Judge.

Nathan Albright

Moses Lake attorney

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