Lynnwood Voters Now Have Opportunity to Select Future Municipal Court
Published on April 05, 2023
On Monday, March 27, the Lynnwood City Council unanimously approved an action changing Lynnwood’s Municipal Court Judge from a part-time appointed position to a full-time elected judge. This year, Lynnwood residents will have the opportunity to vote on who should serve as Lynnwood’s next Municipal Court Judge.
The Lynnwood Municipal Court was created in 1989, and a part-time judge, appointed by the Lynnwood City Council, has presided over the court since its inception.
Ordinance #3439 amended portions of the Lynnwood Municipal Code related to the Municipal Court, allowing the voters of Lynnwood to decide who should be the presiding judge.
State law mandates that voters must elect any judge working 35 hours or more per week. Over the past several years, the Lynnwood Municipal Court case filings have steadily increased, placing a higher demand on the judicial hours of our Municipal Judge. This is due to many factors, such as increasing population, increasing commercial activity, and changes to legislation that impact court activity.
The Community Justice Center, which is currently under construction, includes two courtrooms, creating the possibility of a Community Court. A Community Court is an alternative problem-solving court that seeks to address underlying challenges that some court participants have that may inhibit their ability to break free of the criminal justice cycle successfully. With a full-time elected judge, a Community Court is possible.
“For years, the Lynnwood Municipal Court has implemented many process improvements and efficiencies, including becoming a nearly paperless court,” explained Assistant City Administrator Julie Moore. “Even with these increased efficiencies, the demand for judicial hours is increasing, and a full-time elected judge is necessary. This also now means our community members have a choice in who represents them in the Municipal Court.”
The City of Lynnwood is filing the Municipal Court Judge position with the Snohomish County Elections Office, and any interested candidates may file for the office during candidate filing. This position will ultimately be voted on by the registered voters of the City of Lynnwood during the August Primary Election and the November General Election. After the election is certified, the newly elected Municipal Court Judge will take the bench on January 1, 2024.
The current Lynnwood Municipal Court Judge, Valerie Bouffiou, who was appointed as the Presiding Judge in 2021, has stated her intention to file for the newly elected position.
Lynnwood’s next Municipal Court Judge must be a resident of Washington State and live in Snohomish County, and they must be an attorney in good standing.