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Laurie the only Kitsap judge with an opponent

Six of the judges on the Kitsap County Superior Court bench are getting a free pass to re-election this year. Judge Anna M. Laurie, however, will have to beat back a challenge from two local attorneys in order to earn her second term.

Laurie’s opponents, Bruce O. Danielson of Port Orchard and Dale M. Magneson of Bremerton, said Laurie is severely lacking. Said Danielson, “Anna Laurie is not suited for a role on the bench. I am much more qualified.”

Magneson adds, “She is not as objective as she should be. I’ve seen an arbitrariness in her decisions that I don’t like.”

Laurie, not surprisingly, disagrees.

“That’s new to me, ‘arbitrariness,’ ” she said. “I’ve handled thousands of cases, from murder to asbestos to child custody disputes to everything else. So from my perspective, I’m a better choice.”

Laurie’s perspective has changed during her first term.

“I thought this job would be powerful and filled with prestige,” she said. “In truth, we are always dealing with sadness. The only things we do that are not sad have to do with adoptions. This job sobers you. When I got here I was wildly enthusiastic — I still am — but I was shocked to see how little power I actually have.”

Laurie, 50, who practiced law in Bremerton for 18 years before her election to the bench, came under severe criticism in 2002 for what was perceived as a lenient sentence for a suspect who threatened a policeman with a gun and eventually killed a police dog.

Kitsap County prosecutor Russ Hauge was so angered by the ruling that he sought to keep felony cases out of her courtroom.

Last week, Hauge said, “There are still cases that we will not take in front of Judge Laurie.”

Laurie, however, does not regret that particular ruling.

“The people who criticized me weren’t sitting in the courtroom every day,” she said. “I think I made the right decision.”

Hauge has also cooled somewhat. He has been involved in some judicial elections, but has chosen to not work against Laurie this year.

“We have disagreed strenuously with Judge Laurie’s reasoning in the past,” he said. “But at other times, she has been a very able trial judge.”

Both Danielson and Magneson are proprietors of their own small law firms.

Danielson, 51, was born in Kansas and has lived in Kitsap County for 20 years.

Magneson, who declines to give his age, is a veteran and native Washingtonian who has practiced law locally for 15 years.

Both candidates said Laurie is “a nice person” and (Laurie aside) lauded the overall quality of the Kitsap Superior Court bench. “This is one of the best benches in the state,” Danielson said. “They are intelligent and well-prepared at all times. But there is always room for improvement.”

“Many people see they have only one candidate, the incumbent, and wonder why they don’t have a choice,” said Magneson. “Now, I’m giving them that choice.”

Laurie says she’s puzzled as to why she alone faces an election challenge.

“I did a lot of soul searching,” she said. “And I asked people I trust whether I was doing anything different. The truth is, I don’t have a crystal ball, so I don’t know why I’m the only one with opposition.”

If any candidate fails to get 50 percent of the vote in the Sept. 14 primary, the top vote-getters will advance to the November general election.

The filing deadline was last Friday. Unopposed Judges and the year when they

first joined the bench are Leonard W. Costello (1992), M. Karlynn Haberly (1993), Russell W. Hartman (2002), Jay B. Roof (1994), Leila Mills (2001) and Theodore Spearman (2004).

The only other major county race this year is for two seats on the Board of

Commissioners. Here, Republican Jan Angel is seeking a second term and will be opposed either by Charlotte Garrido or Brock Jackley.

Democrat Chris Endresen, seeking a third term, will face either Scott Henden or Matthew Cleverley.

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