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Thursday, March 2, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Locke names three judges to King County Superior Court

Seattle Times staff reporter

SEATTLE - In a ceremony attended by dozens of prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges, Gov. Gary Locke today announced three new appointments to the King County Superior Court bench.

Attorney Richard McDermott of Bellevue will fill the seat left open by Judge Jim Bates, who died suddenly last month.

Mary Yu, deputy chief of staff in the King County Prosecutor's Office, will replace Judge Janice Niemi, who is retiring at the end of the month.

Locke also said James Cayce, presiding King County District Court judge, will become the 50th judge on the Superior Court bench - a position to be created in July.

"Appointing judges is something I take very, very seriously," Locke, a former prosecutor, told this morning's gathering at the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle.

"We needed people with solid legal skills, integrity and experience. We needed judges who could hit the ground running."

McDermott, a former King County deputy prosecutor who left the office about the time Locke joined it, became a criminal defense attorney; Locke recalled that when he was a prosecutor he argued against McDermott in a number of cases.

McDermott also has been a pro-tem judge at the Municipal, District and Superior court level and has served on the board of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association. He lives in Bellevue.

Cayce serves in the Aukeen Division of King County District Court, where he has been instrumental in creating one of the only mental-health courts in the nation. The two-year project works to help mentally ill offenders and prevent them from committing more serious crimes.

"This is an awesome responsibility," Cayce said of his new appointment. "I am committed to working hard on this court."

Yu is regarded as one of the most intelligent lawyers in the prosecutor's office. "She has a passion for the law," Locke noted, saying that he and King County Executive Ron Sims had approached Yu about serving in their administrations.

All three appointees happen to share a common factor, Locke said - they are Catholic or they have children attending Catholic schools. For 10 years, Yu worked for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

Superior Court judges are elected to four-year terms, but the governor appoints new ones in the event of a death, retirement or creation of a new position.

Today's appointments came after weeks of interviews and considerable behind-the-scenes lobbying. Since taking office in 1996, Locke has made a point of traveling to county courthouses across the state to announce his selections. He has named one state Supreme Court justice, 11 Court of Appeals judges and 26 Superior Court judges.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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