Burien-Based Judge Suspended For “Extreme Rudeness” In Courtroom
The state Supreme Court has suspended Burien-based District Court Judge Judith Eiler for “extreme rudeness” in her local courtroom.
Eiler has served as a King County District Court judge for nearly 20 years, and, according to documents, had previously received numerous complaints about her behavior over the last 7-8 years. Statements in legal documents describe her courtroom behavior as “rude, intimidating, condescending, or demeaning.”
In the decision, four of the court’s nine judges agreed that Eiler had violated judicial ethics, but instead of the requested 90-day suspension, voted to impost a lesser, five-day suspension.
She had also been previously reprimanded in February, 2005 and April, 2009, for similar violations, but, the high court found, continued to behave “rudely.”
“Judge Eiler’s rude, discourteous, and impatient behavior was certainly unprofessional, but it did not go so far as to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary,” Johnson wrote in the lead opinion.
The case document also states:
…Judge Eiler had repeatedly “interrupted litigants; addressed them in an angry, condescending or demeaning tone of voice; threatened to rule against litigants who interrupted or annoyed her; and otherwise failed to conduct herself in a judicious manner.”
King County voters elected Eiler to the bench in 1992, and she has served there ever since, winning re-election many times while managing a caseload that primarily consisted of small claims and traffic infraction matters in which most, if not all, litigants appear pro se (representing oneself as opposed to hiring a lawyer).
The County says that Eiler has heard close to 100,000 such matters during her tenure on the bench.
Here’s Eiler’s full bio as posted on the District Court website:
Judge Judith Eiler served at the Federal Way Division of the King County District Court from 1992 through 2002. In January of 2003, the Federal Way Division was closed and Judge Eiler now serves as a Judge in the King County District Court, Southwest Division. The Southwest Division encompasses the cities of Federal Way, Des Moines, Normandy Park, and Burien. Judge Eiler and her family have lived in Federal Way for nearly 40 years.
Prior to being elected to the bench Judge Eiler practiced law in Federal Way for 12 years. She has been an active member of the Federal Way community. She has been a member of the Federal Way Branch of the American Association of University Women, a member of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Rotary International and she was a founding member and past president of the Federal Way Women’s Network. She has also been active in Bar Association activities. She has been President of the South King County Bar Association, as well as its Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. She has served as a Trustee on the governing board of the King County Bar Association and represented both the South King County Bar Association and the state-wide District and Municipal Court Judges Association at the Board of Governors for the Washington State Bar Association. Since 2007 Judge Eiler has served as an elected member of the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association’s, Judicial Division for Special Court Judges representing judges from the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska. Judge Eiler has served on the Executive Committee for the state-wide District and Municipal Court Judges Association and has served as the Assistant Dean of the State Judicial College, as well as chairing the State Judicial Education Committee.
In 1999 Governor Gary Locke appointed Judge Eiler as a Commissioner to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. From 2004 to 2007 she was named as a Judicial Outreach Liaison by the American Bar Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to serve the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho. She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Seattle University.
We’re curious to know if any of our Readers have had interactions with Judge Eiler, and if so, are they surprised at this decision? Please leave a Comment below…