The Whatcom County Superior Court judge's election will critically affect whether family law and other civil cases receive access to justice. I believe strongly that Deborra Garrett is best qualified to address the problems faced by our courts, and that she has put forth the better plan for optimizing court utilization.
Dave Grant has indicated he would reserve two of the three judges exclusively for felony criminal cases. Only 23 percent of the cases in front of the court are felony criminal cases. The remaining 77 percent are civil matters that include family law, all other cases that aren't felony criminal cases. Having only one judge to handle all of these cases would limit individuals' access to justice in at least two ways. First, if there is a conflict with the one judge appointed, the only alternative, according to Dave Grant, would be a District Court judge. District Court judges never hear these types of cases. Second, it would create even longer delays for obtaining a trial date. Waiting two or more years to get a trial date is not acceptable. Deborra has handled family law cases and understands the particular burden that such long delays could have on families and individuals in limbo. She also understands that the absence of a judge with a background in family law and other civil matters could critically impact the community's access to justice.