Longtime Superior Court judge says it's time to retire
Longtime King County Superior Court Judge Charles Mertel announced Thursday he intends to retire from the bench at the end of next year...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Longtime King County Superior Court Judge Charles Mertel announced Thursday he intends to retire from the bench at the end of next year.
Mertel, 72, began serving in 1992 when he was appointed by then-Gov. Booth Gardner. He has since served nearly four terms, all unopposed.
"It's time," he said.
He said he plans to spend much of his retirement skiing and stream fishing.
Though he'll look back fondly on his years upon the dais, Mertel said, "it's not quite right to say I've enjoyed every moment. There have been some tough times."
Such as the six-month trial of Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay, convicted in 2004 of killing Rafay's parents and sister; when a man accused of raping his wife lunged from his chair and began choking the victim while she was on the stand; and when a volatile ex-husband sneaked gasoline into the courtroom, doused himself and fished for a match as a shocked Mertel summoned sheriff's deputies.
Over the years Mertel ruled on a range of issues, from insurance lawsuits and high-profile murders to divorce cases and the efforts of a tent city to plant stakes in the Eastside suburbs.
"But the most difficult is when you take kids away from their parents," Mertel said. "That's tough."
His retirement announcement prompted Mertel to speak out against judges without experience as trial attorneys being elected to serve in Superior Court.
He urged voters to make sure future judges, including the one who replaces him, have the experience he said is necessary.
"I know it's not easy for voters to know who they're voting for," said Mertel. "But this Superior Court position is very powerful. We change people's lives."
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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