Longtime Olympia law clerk on list of applicants for state Supreme Court

Laura Anglin, who has worked as a law clerk at the State Supreme Court in Olympia for most of 20 years, is one of 12 applicants to replace Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst on the high court, according to a list released by Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.

The governor’s legal counsel and deputy legal counsel plan to interview each applicant in the coming weeks, according to an email from Deputy Director of Communications Tara Lee. The legal team will make recommendations to the governor, and Inslee will likely announce his final decision the first week of December.

Anglin graduated from Seattle University’s law school in 1999 and, though she lives in Tacoma, has been working as a law clerk at the Supreme Court in Olympia for most of the two decades since.

She told The Olympian she began a clerkship with Justice Charles Johnson in 1999, then briefly served as a clerk for Justice Phil Talmadge. When Justice Tom Chambers was elected, she then clerked for him. Most clerks work for one or two years, she said, but they bonded. She ended up staying on with Chambers formally for 12 years, then continued working with him on his cases for a year until he died in 2013.

She started clerking for Justice Steven González in 2012, she said, and has been working for him since — aside from a couple years when she was recruited away from the court to work as Senate Counsel at the Washington State Senate and a tax referee at the Board of Tax Appeals. She also works as an adjunct professor for Seattle University’s law school.

“I love the work of the court,” Anglin told The Olympian. “I have been deeply immersed in the work for 20 years.” But, she said, she’d like to do more than she can within the constraints of her current role.

The person Inslee appoints will serve the rest of Fairhurst’s term, which lasts through the end of 2020. The seat will be open for election next November, when the appointee would need to run in order to keep Fairhurst’s spot on the high court, Lee confirmed.

Fairhurst announced last month that she will retire in January to focus on her health while she fights a third bout of cancer. Wednesday, the Associated Press reported Justice Debra Stephens was elected by her fellow justices to serve as chief justice for the last year of Fairhurst’s term.

Joining Anglin are 11 other applicants from across the state:

  • James Davenport, Buena;

  • Judge Alex Ekstrom, Kennewick;

  • Judge George Fearing, Richland;

  • Jack Fiander, Yakima;

  • Mary Gaston, Seattle;

  • Judge Millie Judge, Everett;

  • Jodi McDougall, Seattle;

  • Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis, Bellingham;

  • Patrick Palace, Tacoma;

  • Judge Michael Price, Spokane; and

  • Judge G. Helen Whitener, Tacoma.

Sara Gentzler joined The Olympian in June 2019. She primarily covers Thurston County government and its courts, as well as breaking news. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Creighton University.