In addition to the conservative attempts to sandbag the state Supreme Court, there seems to be a similar effort to unseat a quality judge at the Appeal Court level in Southwest Washington. Judge Joel Penoyar is facing off with Brent Boger, who had been given a plus rating by the Faith and Freedom Network and is the former head of the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Northwest office.

Like the Supreme Court races, Appeal Judges can be unseated in the primary. Penoyar is a judge in Division II, District 3 (which covers Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties).

In addition to not liking the Faith and Freedom Network and the PLF, I have personal reasons for preferring Judge Penoyar, probably over most other candidates. I met Judge Penoyar when I was covering a small town controversy for the Montesano Vidette. The case of a McCleary Mayor that had been accused of stealing from the city was moved out of Grays Harbor and into Pacific County, where Judge Penoyar was then a Superior Court judge.

While I and my colleague waited for court to start (we got their early) Judge Penoyar chatted with us in his chambers. Somewhat about how he expected to behave (within the bounds of reason), but mostly he quizzed us about our impressions of college and how we’d come to choose ours. We were both young, and recently out of college. I was actually still working towards my degree at Evergreen, and it was odd feeling to be asked for advice from a judge. A really judgy looking judge too.

A year or so later I was back in South Bend covering a high school football game for the Aberdeen Daily World. I was walking up to the press box when I passed Judge Penoyar, this time in his civies. He recognized me and we chatted. His son had chosen a school (I forget where specifically, but I think it was a small liberal arts college in the midwest), and that he’d chosen it so he could play soccer (not a bad reason). Since I was a sports reporter (technically) at the time, Judge Penoyar also took the opportunity to suggest that the Daily World make an extra effort to cover more soccer games in Pacific County.

In my two run-ins with Judge Penoyar I always got the impression that he was a genuinely nice guy and a fair person. That he is a judge makes sense to me. That he is now being challenged by a far right lawyer feels offensive.

Here is what I can find out about Boger so far:

  • Former PLF Lawyer. The PLF is a right wing, property rights law firm that fights the bad fight on many environmental and land use fights in the West.
  • Plus rating by the Faith and Freedom Network. While Judge Penoyar declined to fill out their questionnaire, Boger got a plus rating by saying he supported the “U.S. Supreme Court, Boy Scouts can deny leadership positions to homosexuals” and for sending out a press release this year supporting the Supreme Court’s “defense of marriage” ruling.
  • His “bi-partisan” endorsements include: Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson, Dino Rossi (who gave him $100), and Senator Slade Gorton.
  • Two of his top contributions include $1,400 from the 49th LD Republicans (no Democratic organization gave him money) and $1,400 from the Washington Affordable Housing Council, the PAC of the Building Industry Association of Washington.