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Originally published June 19, 2012 at 4:38 PM | Page modified June 20, 2012 at 7:56 AM

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Corrected version

The Times recommends: Judge Bruce Hilyer for state Supreme Court

The Seattle Times editorial board endorses Bruce Hilyer for Washington Supreme Court, Position 9.

Seattle Times Editorial

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KING County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer is our choice for Washington Supreme Court, Position 9, the seat being vacated by Justice Tom Chambers.

Hilyer, 61, has been a prosecutor and a judge. It is not necessary that justices have previous judicial experience — six of the nine did not — but it helps.

Having had to follow the Supreme Court's rulings, Hilyer wants the court to write "clean, crisp rules," but not to overreach.

As an example of what he wants to avoid, he cites the ruling in Andress, a 2002 felony-murder case that required the retrying of scores of convicted murderers. One of his opponents, former Justice Richard Sanders, signed that ruling and another, Sheryl McCloud, defends it. In pointing to its unintended consequences, Hilyer shows respect for the other branches of government and the law's practical effects.

The court's one open seat has attracted three other qualified candidates:

Sanders, 67, was on the high court from 1995 through 2010. More than any justice, the libertarian Sanders favored the individual over government. In many cases — property rights, public disclosure — we agreed with him. But he is opinionated, sometimes indecorous, and the voters rejected him in 2010 in favor of Charles Wiggins. Sanders could serve only one full six-year term before hitting retirement age at 75.

McCloud, 56, is a successful appellate attorney with much experience with the high court but with none as a judge. She is similar to Sanders in one respect: She is willing to follow a legal argument where it goes and live with the consequences.

• Attorney John Ladenburg, 63, has been Pierce County prosecutor, executive and chairman of the Sound Transit board, but never a judge. A Democrat, he ran in 2008 against Attorney General Rob McKenna, and earlier this year was considering another run for that job. Now he says he is running for the Washington Supreme Court "because I like being where the action is."

Hilyer is the best choice among this field for Supreme Court.

This editorial originally said that Richard Sanders was elected to the Supreme Court in 1975. It was 1995.

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