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In July, the Okanogan County Commissioners approved an ordinance authorizing a second Superior Court Judge position. The need for a second Superior Court judge had become increasingly apparent. While the number of criminal cases continues to increase, the courts struggle to reduce the backlog of domestic and family law disputes, real estate issues, and other civil matters.
The Commissioners then requested Gov. Chris Gregoire to make an appointment to fill the position. On Tuesday, Gregoire appointed Judge Chris Culp to the Okanogan County Superior Court. Culp has served as a district court judge since 1987 and was appointed superior court commissioner in 1991. Since 2002, he has also served as a superior court judge pro tem.
"Judge Culp's deep ties with his community and thorough understanding of the law make him an excellent pick for Okanogan County's superior court," Gregoire said. "I know Chris will continue to do a great job on the bench."
"I am honored with Governor Gregoire's appointment. It is a tremendous opportunity to serve the residents of Okanogan County and Washington State in this new role," said Culp. "I appreciate the confidence placed in me by the Governor, peers and many supporters. I will do my best to uphold that trust."
After four years of work in private practice, Culp was elected to the district court in 1986 and presided over jury trials and cases involving civil matters, protection orders and misdemeanors. In 1991, he was appointed superior court commissioner and heard juvenile dependencies, truancies and paternity matters. Later, his work as commissioner expanded to include all phases of pretrial hearings in felony criminal cases. And in 2001, he began to spend one day a week as a superior court judge pro tem and presided over felony jury trials and evidentiary hearings.
"We are fortunate to have Judge Culp appointed to the Okanogan Superior Court," said Judge Jack Burchard. "He is a great judge with many years of experience on the District Court bench and I know he will continue to serve with distinction."
Culp's community activities have included service on the Omak-Okanogan Rotary Club board of directors and membership in the Tonasket Community Cultural Center.
Culp earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington and a law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law.
With the District Court judge vacancy, the Commissioners have the responsibility of appointing a new District Court judge to fill Culp's position. Nan Kallunki, Administrative Services Director for Okanogan County said the Commissioners have received a number of applications for the vacant position and they are reviewing them. She said they will announce their appointment when their assessment is complete.
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