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Benton, Franklin Superior Court Judge Position 1

The Superior Court is the court of general jurisdiction in the state judicial system. The Superior Courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over all civil matters involving dollar amounts over $35,000; title or possession of real property; cases involving legality of any tax, impost, assessment or toll; and probate and domestic matters. They have original jurisdiction over all criminal cases amounting to felony and all other criminal cases not otherwise provided by law; exclusive original jurisdiction over juvenile matters; and orders for protection from domestic violence. Appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction are heard anew or appealed on the record for error of law.

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    Sharon Brown
    (NP)

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    Dave Petersen
    (NP)

Biographical Information

Do you support the need for alternative courts, such as Veteran’s Court, Drug Court and Family Court? Why or why not?

Do you think that local law enforcement agencies should go through mandatory racial equity training? Why or why not?

Do you think justice is better served when there are mandatory sentences for the same crimes or when judges have more discretion? Why?

How would you rate the treatment/experience of the poor in our local judicial system, especially in the courts?

Experience (Max 500 characters) State Senator helping to craft laws for the past 8 years. Attorney with over 20 years of experience. Graduate of NH School of Law, Franklin Pierce Intellectual Property Center. Additional post law school education includes obtaining a certificate in Mediation from the Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law. Serving on the Board of Directors for Benton Franklin Boys and Girls Clubs. Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Advocate
Campaign Phone (509) 947-5383
Campaign Email lchilders2b@charter.net
Town where you live Richland Washington
Absolutely. Alternative courts are focused on solutions that seek justice for victims, while still trying to address the needs of the offender, so as to improve society overall. They are an innovative way to deal with issues of PTSD, drug abuse, domestic violence, tax issues and mental illness. As a lawmaker, I have even offered legislation to create a “tax court” to address the particular needs of taxpayers. While the research is still at its beginning stages, the initial findings indicate that alternative courts produce positive results for victims and offenders, and often reduce costs. They also allow judges to take a more hands-on approach to reducing recidivism and impacting long-term defendant behavior.
I do not believe racial equity training should be mandated for all local law enforcement agencies. One size does not always fit all. Given limited resources, there may be situations where departments could better use funds in a way that would actually impact racial justice more than equity training (such as purchases of body cams or de-escalation training). This is especially true if there is no history of need for such racial equity training in a particular department.
In general, I support adhering to sentencing guidelines, but not mandatory sentences. In theory, they help assure that all defendants are given an equal playing field, and as a tool for achieving justice, these standards can be extremely useful in helping to weed out some of the explicit or implicit biases in the judicial system. However, when they have the opposite effect – and would result in a clearly unjust sentence, given the particular circumstances of a case, I believe it is appropriate for judges to make decisions that, within the law, produce the most just outcome – even if those decisions come outside of standard guidelines.
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Experience (Max 500 characters) 6+ years as municipal court judge for City of Pasco, presiding over all municipal court matters, department budgeting and personnel issues; 20+ years as judge pro tem in Benton/Franklin county courts; 20+ years as a private practice attorney, focusing on family law mediation, personal injury, estate planning, probate and criminal defense; 2 years as a deputy prosecutor for Franklin County, responsible for civil and criminal cases in district and juvenile courts.
Campaign Email daveforjudge@gmail.com
Town where you live Kennewick, WA
Twitter @daveforjudge
I am a proponent of alternative courts. There are two types of alternative courts, therapeutic and subject-specific. Courts, in general, don’t do an adequate job of addressing mental health issues and addictions. Therapeutic courts, such as veteran, drug, and mental health courts, focus on addressing these issues with the goal of treating the underlying problem. The successes demonstrated among these courts are outstanding. The supervision and personal accountability associated with therapeutic courts is far beyond those of standard courts. Subject-specific courts, such as family court and probate court, provide efficiencies and consistencies that are valuable to the justice system. Subject-specific courts often have judges or commissioners, with particular expertise in that area, presiding over those courts. The legal system benefits greatly by having proficient judges and efficiencies for the litigants.
Racial equity training should be required for local law enforcement agencies. The uniform treatment of all individuals regardless of race has to be a fundamental value of law enforcement. Racial equity training starts with identifying and understanding subconscious and intentional biases. Through elimination of racial discrimination, the values of the legal system ensure fairness without consideration of race. When law enforcement makes contact with an individual, whether it’s for community care taking or criminal investigation, the approach must be from a race-neutral mindset. Our justice system, and law enforcement particularly, suffer from a diminished public opinion based upon the belief that they do not demonstrate racial equity. Mandatory training will advance law enforcement’s reputation among the community, and this perception will help keep society and law enforcement safer.
Standard sentencing guidelines, with statutory factors for going above or below the standard range, present a more transparent and unbiased approach. Currently, our judicial system has the appearance of unfairness and bias. Standard sentencing provides some relief in that regard. As a former municipal court judge, I had almost complete discretion in sentencing. I believe I approached every sentencing with an unbiased mind, ready to receive arguments from counsel. As a former prosecutor in Texas, before they had standard sentencing guidelines like Washington, I was shocked at some of the disparities in sentencing relating to facts, economic status, and race. These sentences were handed out by judges and juries that had complete discretion in felony cases. I don’t have confidence that all judges can approach sentencing with an open mind, and without prejudice, therefore, the justice system is better served by standard sentencing.
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