By Paul Gottlieb
Olympic Peninsula News Group
An attorney who practices law out of Forks and Port Angeles is running for the West End District II Court judicial seat occupied by the man he has presented cases in front of for more than five years.
John D. Black, 66, who has had an office in Forks since 2002 while living in Sequim, said last week he will run for the part-time, four-year judge’s position held by John H. Doherty, who was appointed to the position in 2012 and was elected in 2014.
Filing week for countywide elected positions, including District Court judge, is May 14-18 for the Nov. 6 general election.
Black, a former Alaska resident whose wife, Connie, runs a preschool day care in Sequim, began renting a residence in Forks in January.
He said the couple will relocate to the West End if he is elected.
“I’ve wanted the position out there for a while,” Black said last week in an interview in Port Angeles.
“I love Forks.”
“People there remind me of Alaska.”
Black said he wants to start a DUI-drug court under the umbrella of District Court 2 and said an Oxford House recovery center should be established for the West End.
Black praised Doherty as “a good mentor.”
But Doherty has not adequately addressed the drug and alcohol problem, Black said.
“We’ve got an opiate, a drug abuse epidemic in this county.
“It’s alive and well in Forks.
“We need to do everything we can to get that under control.”
Black, a recovering alcoholic, said he has been a member of the recovery community in good standing for 25 years.
He said he was convicted of driving under the influence in 1985 in Edmonds and has since then built up a successful law practice.
Black lists his participation in Alcoholics Anonymous on his resume.
He has represented Alcoholics Anonymous at area jails and prisons.
“Last month, I had as much time sober as I had been drinking,” Black said.
He graduated from Peninsula College in 1994, received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Tacoma in 1996 and earned a law degree from the Seattle University School of Law in 2000.
Black has been a judge pro-tem for District Court I and District Court II, is licensed to practice in federal court and is a member of the bar in the Lower Elwha, Makah, Quileute and Swinomish tribal courts.
Doherty, a former Port Angeles-area District Court I judge, has not returned repeated calls for comment on whether he intends to seek re-election.
Port Angeles-area District Court I Judge Rick Porter defeated Doherty for Doherty’s District I position in 2002 and is not seeking re-election this year.
Porter, who has given Black his old campaign signs to paint over and re-use, said Friday he is endorsing Black for the position whether or not Doherty runs for re-election.
“He’s done exceptionally well as an attorney and done very well as a pro-tem for me, and I think he’ll do a great job,” Porter said.
“I think the people out in Forks deserve the best.”
Porter said the District II position will pay 60 percent, or $98,588, of the full-time judicial position, which will pay $164,313 as of Sept. 1.
Misdemeanor cases are adjudicated in district courts by judges who can impose fines of up to $5,000 and jail sentences of up to one year.
Civil cases and traffic infractions are also heard in district courts.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected]