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Spearman sworn in as Superior Court judge

PORT ORCHARD — Bainbridge Island lawyer Theodore Spearman was sworn in as the newest member of the Kitsap County Superior Court on Monday afternoon in a courtroom packed with county officials, friends, colleagues and others who have known the judge during his 37-year legal career.

Additionally, 20 sitting judges from throughout Washington, including Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Gerry Alexander, attended the ceremony. U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee and former Secretary of State Ralph Munro also made statements extolling Spearman.

“My first priority is to learn my job,” Spearman, 57, said right after the ceremony. “Every morning, I will approach the job with respect and humility, and strive to be impartial and fair. The only source of power that a judge has is the respect of the public.”

Spearman replaces Judge Terry McCluskey, who retired.

Spearman is the first African-American to serve as a judge in Kitsap County, a topic first addressed in an introduction by Andrew Becker, former president of the Kitsap County Bar Association.

“Kitsap County is diverse.” he said. “We have Mormons. We have Muslims. We have Filipinos. We have Norwegians. So finally, we have a judge who ... is a vegetarian.”

Many of the tributes were similarly good humored. Inslee underscored the importance of brevity, saying that his time in Congress proved that “lawyers speaking in 60-second increments is a lot better than lawyers speaking in 60-minute increments.”

And Munro noted that “being a judge is like owning a boat. The first and last days are the best.”

All speakers then led into more serious tributes. Munro said judges have an extra responsibility to keep society on track, warning that many of the conditions which incubate racism exist in Kitsap County.

“Ted brings more to the bench than his heritage,” said Bishop Lawrence Robertson of Emmanuel Apostolic Church in Bremerton. “He has an eduction, an analytical mind and an articulate voice that makes him a role model for all youth.

“Here in Kitsap County, anyone can be what they want to be regardless of race,” Munro said. “To live in the county is a blessing for all our residents.”

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Beverly Grant, who herself joined the bench after a long legal career, said this process results in a seasoned jurist.

“Ted has a lot of experience, and a lot of intelligence,” she said. “Anyone who has handled complex litigation is a treasure when they become a judge.”

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