This morning, Governor Christine Gregoire tapped state Court of Appeals judge Debra Stephens of Spokane as the newest member of the state Supreme Court. Stephens replaces Justice Bobbe Bridge who announced earlier this year she would step down at the end of December to run a juvenile justice program.
Stephens, a graduate of Gonzaga University’s School of Law, becomes the first woman Supreme Court justice from Eastern Washington. According to the Seattle Times, the appointment of Stephens is a bit of a surprise. Most court watchers expected the Governor to appoint Appeals Judge Mary Kay Becker, King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu or Hugh Spitzer, a well known constitutional law scholar.
Stephens will have to run statewide for re-election next November.