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Kitsap gets new District Court Judge

Kitsap County District Court Judge James Riehl (right) welcomes Jeffrey Jahns to the bench. - Charlie Bermant
Kitsap County District Court Judge James Riehl (right) welcomes Jeffrey Jahns to the bench.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

Kitsap County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey Jahns was nominated to replace retiring District Court Judge W. Daniel Phillips, and is expected to take office when Phillips’ term expires on March 1.

“I want to follow in Judge Phillips’ footsteps,” Jahns said. “He has a keen mind and showed how a good judge should act.”

Jahns, 52, has spent 14 years in the prosecutor’s office preceded by 13 years as a defense attorney. Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown said the court was lucky to have a candidate with a balance of experience.

Jahns announced his interest in the job shortly after Phillips announced his retirement last year. He was the only person to apply for the position and received the commissioners’ unanimous support at a Wednesday work session.

He was accompanied to the meeting by his future colleague on the District Court, Judge James Riehl.

“There are two reasons why a job will only get one applicant,” Riehl said. “One is that no one wants the job. That isn’t the case here, since Kitsap County is full of attorneys who would rather sit on the bench than practice law. The second reason is that a candidate has emerged that is so qualified that no one can provide a better alternative.

“Jeff brings experience from both sides,” Riehl said. “We are very excited about having him on the court.”

Jahns (pronounced “Yahns”) is due to begin a five day judicial training in Tacoma on Jan. 25. All new judges are required to take this course during their first year on the bench.

Jahns is familiar with this curriculum, as he has taught several courses about DUI law to new judges as part of their training.

Jahns acknowledged that Phillips would be hard to replace.

“He had compassion and always cared about his job,” Jahns said. “He was prompt in court. He was very scholarly. He enjoyed working with people, and it showed. He was an exceptional judge, and the county is going to miss him.”

Jahns is related to Kitsap County Prosecutor Russell Hauge by marriage, Hauge’s wife Jill is Jahns’ sister.

The formal announcement of Jahns’ appointment will be made at the Feb. 9 meeting of the county commissioners.

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