The Court

MISSION STATEMENT

To serve the public through the prompt resolution of civil and criminal cases in a manner that ensures access and fair treatment.

VISION STATEMENT

Thurston County Superior Court is a Court where all can safely and easily access the court, its programs and services, and have an opportunity to be heard. Through well-trained judicial officers and court staff, the Court uses innovative techniques and manages public resources responsibly. The Court seeks community input to ensure public confidence in the judiciary and to reflect the diverse community needs.

Welcome to Thurston County Superior Court

Thurston County Superior Court is a state trial court of general jurisdiction situated in Thurston County, Washington. This court has state-wide jurisdiction and hears major criminal matters (felonies), civil cases including cases involving real property, domestic relations matters, appeals from lower courts (Thurston County District and Municipal Courts), and appeals from state administrative agencies.

Family & Juvenile Court is a department of Superior Court and hears juvenile offender matters as well as adoptions, child dependency cases, family law, civil domestic violence and other protection order cases, probates and guardianships. Family & Juvenile Court also operates a juvenile detention facility. Thurston County was the first county in Washington State to co-locate all family and juvenile operations in a single facility, separate from other Superior Court operations.

Thurston County's Superior Court has eight full-time elected judges who sit on all matters and four Superior Court Commissioners who sit primarily in Family & Juvenile Court  and domestic violence cases.

Superior Court Judges and Staff
Main Campus:
Judge Carol Murphy

Judge Carol Murphy was elected to the Thurston County Superior Court bench in 2008, and began her first term in 2009, her second term in 2013, and her third term in 2017. She currently presides over civil and felony criminal trials as well as civil motions and administrative appeals on matters assigned to her. Her experience on the bench includes four years as Presiding Judge for Superior Court, Criminal Presiding Judge for two years and Presiding Judge for Thurston County DUI/Drug Court for three years.

Before her election to the bench, she practiced law in Olympia with the Attorney General's Office for more than 17 years. Judge Murphy has been actively involved in her community, serving leadership roles in many organizations. She currently serves on the state-wide Civic Learning Council. Judge Murphy received her B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Washington (1987) and her J.D. from Golden Gate University (1991).

Judicial Assistant: Doug Bales - Email - 360-786-5577

Judge James Dixon

Judge James Dixon was appointed to the Thurston County Superior Court bench by Governor Christine Gregoire in February 2012 upon the retirement of Judge Christine Pomeroy. At the time, Dixon was a senior and managing partner at Dixon Rodgers Kee Pearson in Olympia where he was a peer review rated "AV" by Martindale-Hubbell, indicating the highest level of professional excellence.

Judge Dixon earned bachelor's degrees in Philosophy (with honors) and Urban Affairs from the University of Puget Sound in 1980. He received a Master of Public Administration degree from Rice University in 1983. He also worked as a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a number of years before entering the University of Puget Sound School of Law, where he graduated in 1990.

Judge Dixon began his legal career in 1990 as an associate attorney with a family law firm and within a few years focused his practice on criminal defense. For more than 22 years he was a trial attorney representing clients in family law and criminal law matters including misdemeanor, juvenile offender and felony cases. He is a former President of the Thurston County Bar Association and has served on several committees and boards in the community including the South Puget Sound Community College Paralegal Advisory Committee and the Thurston County Volunteer Legal Clinic. Judge Dixon received the Daniel Bigelow Thurston County Bar Association Lawyer of the Year award in 2011 for his outstanding professional and community service.

Judicial Assistant: Pam Shirer - Email - 360-709-3052

Judge Erik D. Price

​Prior to his election in 2012, Judge Price was a lawyer in private practice with a 20-year career specializing in civil litigation and regulatory and administrative law. He is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law. As an Olympia native, he is active in the community and enjoys outdoor activities.

 Judicial Assistant: Pam Shrier - Email - 360-709-3052 

Judge Christine Schaller

​Judge Christine Schaller was elected to the Thurston County Superior Court in 2012 and began her service in January 2013. From July 2015 through July 2017, she served as the Chief Judge at Family and Juvenile Court (FJC). Currently, Judge Schaller serves as the Presiding Judge for Superior Court. Her current rotation is as a trial judge hearing criminal and civil cases.

Immediately prior to her election, Judge Schaller served for almost eight years as a FJC Court Commissioner for Thurston County Superior Court. While Court Commissioner, she presided over all types of cases heard at FJC. In 2009, then Commissioner Schaller was named “Jurist of the Year” by the Washington State Bar Association, Family Law Section.

At the start of her legal career in the fall of 1996, Judge Schaller was an associate attorney at the Olympia law firm Foster, Foster and Schaller. Her practice areas focused on family and juvenile law, criminal defense and estate planning and probate. She was a partner with the firm from June 2000 until she was appointed as Court Commissioner in February 2005.

Judicial Assistant: Carolina Mejia Barahona - Email - 360-786-5557

 

Judge John C. Skinder

Judge John C. Skinder was elected to the Thurston County Superior Court in 2016. Judge Skinder currently serves as a trial judge. In this assignment, he presides over criminal and civil jury and bench trials, hears criminal and civil motions, and provides backup on a variety of criminal and civil calendars.

Prior to his election, Judge Skinder served the people of the State of Washington as a deputy prosecuting attorney in Thurston County (2000-2016) and as a deputy prosecuting attorney in Lewis County (1997-2000). He is a former President of the Thurston County Bar Association.

Judge Skinder graduated cum laude from Seattle University School of Law in 1996 and graduated from the College of William & Mary in 1992.

Judge Skinder and his wife Angela are actively involved in the community.

Judicial Assistant: Doug Bales - Email - 360-786-5577

Judge Chris Lanese

​Judge Chris Lanese was elected to the Thurston County Superior Court in 2016. Judge Lanese currently serves as a trial judge. In this assignment, he presides over criminal and civil jury trials, bench trials, and motion and hearing calendars. He also hears appeals from administrative agencies.

Prior to his election, Judge Lanese served the people of the State of Washington as a Managing Assistant Attorney General, representing clients in complex lawsuits ranging from jury trials in Superior Court to appeals before the Washington Supreme Court. Before joining the Attorney General’s Office, Judge Lanese worked in private practice, representing clients in intellectual property and business litigation. He has served on the Attorney General Office’s Ethics, Opinions, and Electronic Discovery Committees and the Washington State Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics, Pro Bono and Legal Aid Committee, and Amicus Committee.

Judge Lanese is active in his community and has served on the boards of the Family Support Center of South Sound, South Sound YMCA, Eastside Cooperative Preschool, Lincoln Elementary School Community Council, Thurston County Bar Association, and Government Lawyers Bar Association. Prior to his election, he engaged in extensive pro bono work representing clients in family law and civil rights matters.

Judge Lanese graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and summa cum laude from Dartmouth College.
Judge Lanese and his wife live in Olympia with their four children.

Judicial Assistant:  Carolina Mejia Barahona- Email - 360-786-5557

Family & Juvenile Court:
Judge Anne Hirsch

Judge Anne Hirsch was first elected to the Thurston County Superior Court in 2006 and currently serves as the Chief Judge at Family Juvenile Court and Family Recovery Court Judge. Previously Judge Hirsch has served as a Criminal Presiding Judge, Trial Judge, and Presiding Judge at Family and Juvenile Court.

Judge Hirsch was an original member of the Advisory Committee that created the programs at Thurston County's Family and Juvenile Court and has spent years working on issues of concern to families and children.  She has participated as a trainer and student in many national, regional and local trainings related to family, juvenile and dependency law, domestic violence and drug court, among other issues.  Judge Hirsch served as the Chair of the Washington State Foster Care Commission's Best Practices Workgroup and recently served as Co-Chair of the Superior Court Judge's Association's Family and Juvenile Law Committee.  Judge Hirsch is also a member of and serves as a facilitator for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.  In her work with the NCJFCJ Judge Hirsch was a mentor Judge for the Family Court Enhancement Project and serves on the Family Violence and Domestic Relations Advisory Committee. Judge Hirsch worked with the NCJFCJ and other organizations on curriculum development for custody evaluators and recently helped to lead a multiyear, statewide effort to improve and update guardian ad litem training.  

Prior to joining the bench, Judge Hirsch was a part-time Family and Juvenile Law Commissioner for over 14 years.   Judge Hirsch maintained a private law practice prior to and during the time she served as a Court Commissioner, including work as a mediator and guardian ad litem. Before opening her private practice, Judge Hirsch worked for many years as a legal services attorney, representing low income families needing civil legal assistance. During that time and along with other local attorneys and advocates, Judge Hirsch was a founding Board member of Thurston County Volunteer Legal Services.

Over the years, Judge Hirsch has participated as a trainer and volunteer for various community and law related projects, including many years as a weekly instructor for Capital High School students in their Street Law class.  Judge Hirsch also has served on local community boards including the Thurston County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, the Thurston County Bar Association,  Friends of the Olympia Farmer's Market, the Child Care Action Council, the Thurston County Food Bank and the Lincoln-Options Site Council. 

Judicial Assistant: Yvonne Pier - Email - 360-709-3247

Judge Mary Sue Wilson

​Judge Mary Sue Wilson was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to the Thurston County Superior Court and began serving as a Superior Court Judge in October 2014. Judge Wilson presently serves as a trial Judge. In this assignment, she presides over civil and criminal jury and bench trials, hears civil motions, and provides backup on a variety of criminal and civil calendars.

Prior to her appointment, Judge Wilson served the people of the State of Washington for over two decades as an assistant Attorney General. In this capacity she represented state agencies and state officials in state and federal trial and appeals courts on a range of statutory, constitutional, and environmental matters. She also served as chief counsel to three Washington State Department of Ecology directors and as a member of three Attorney’s General leadership teams.
Judge Wilson graduated Summa Cum Laude from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1989. Following graduation, she served as a judicial clerk to former Washington State Supreme Court Justice Robert Brachtenbach.

A native Washingtonian, Judge Wilson has resided in Thurston County for twenty-five years. She has served on local childcare and school boards, is active in leadership and youth ministry at her church, and previously served on the Washington Women Lawyers Capitol Chapter board.

 Judicial Assistant: Sandy Smith - Email - 360-709-3202 

Superior Court Full Time Court Commissioners:
Commissioner Jonathon Lack

Commissioner Jonathon Lack currently serves as the Family Law Court Commissioner at Thurston County Family and Juvenile Court. He has been in this position since April of 2013. Commissioner Lack presides over all pretrial family law hearings, as well as domestic violence protection order cases and mental illness hearings.

Prior to his appointment as a Thurston County Superior Court Commissioner, Commissioner Lack served for five-and-a-half years as a Family, Children’s and Probate Master for the Superior Court in Anchorage, Alaska.

Commissioner Lack holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The George Washington University and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Richmond, School of Law. He also completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at the Harvard Kennedy School where he was a David Bohnett Fellow. Commissioner Lack is a former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alaska Humanities Forum and the Anchorage Youth Court. In 2005 he was recognized as one of Alaska’s Volunteers of the Year and was inducted in the National Youth Court Volunteer Hall of Honor. Commissioner Lack presently serves on the Board of Directors of the Pride Foundation.

Judicial Assistant Contact Information- 360-709-3202

Commissioner Indu Thomas

​Commissioner Thomas was appointed in 2007. She presides over pretrial family law matters; parenting plan and child support modifications; domestic violence, unlawful harassment, stalking, vulnerable adult and sexual assault protection orders; juvenile offender matters; youth at risk and truancy cases and involuntary treatment cases on a rotational basis.

Prior to her appointment, Commissioner Thomas served as non-partisan staff counsel to the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee. Her areas of responsibility included mental health, substance abuse, juvenile justice, public assistance and child welfare. Commissioner Thomas served more than 8 years of her career in the courtroom as a litigator. Between 1999 and 2006 Commissioner Thomas served as an Assistant Attorney General with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and represented the Department of Social and Health Services. Prior to relocating to Thurston County, she served as a public defender with Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons in King County. Commissioner Thomas completed her undergraduate work in 1991 at Case Western Reserve University. She taught school for a few years in Houston, Texas before heading back to Ohio to complete her education. She graduated from Cleveland-Marshall School of Law in 1996.

Commissioner Thomas has lived and worked in Thurston County since 1999. She is actively involved in the community having served on several community boards and through many leadership, music and education ministries at her church. During her time as a Commissioner she has served on three Superior Court Judges Association Committees: Ethics, Therapeutic Courts and Education. She is currently a member of the Hon. Robert J. Bryan Inn of Court; serving as a co-chair of the Superior Court Judges Education Committee and as one of the Deans of the State Judicial College.

Judicial Assistant contact information- 360-709-3247

Commissioner Nathan Kortokrax

Nathan Kortokrax was appointed as a Court Commissioner to Thurston County Superior Court in May 2017. He currently presides over domestic violence hearings, family law settlement conferences, and dependency settlement conferences at Thurston County Family & Juvenile Court. He also hears criminal matters at Superior Court.

Commissioner Kortokrax is a graduate of the Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law. Upon moving to Washington in 2006, he practiced law at a small firm in Clark County. He moved to Thurston County in 2008 and worked for local firms where his practice focused primarily on dependency, family law, and Guardian Ad Litem work. Beginning in 2012, he started serving as a pro tem judicial officer for Thurston County. Immediately prior to being appointed to the Thurston County bench, he served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Torts division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

Judicial Assistant Contact Information- 360-709-3247

Superior Court Part Time Court Commissioner

​Rebekah Zinn                              (360) 786-5560

Official Court Reporters

​For information regarding the Official Court Reporters and how to order transcripts please click on this page.