OKANOGAN – Surrounded by peers, family and friends, Chris Culp made history when he was sworn in as Okanogan County’s newest Superior Court Judge by state Supreme Court Justice Gerry Alexander.
For the first time in the county’s century-plus history, there are two Superior Court Judges to handle the county’s growing caseload. With the installation last Friday, Dec. 2, Culp joins Judge Jack Burchard on the county’s Superior Court bench.
Judge Burchard introduced the many judges who joined Judge Culp at the ceremony, including Supreme Court Justice Debra Stephens, Chelan County Superior Court Judges John Bridges and Chip Small, Okanogan County District Court Judges Henry Rawson and Heidi Smith (who was appointed by the county commissioners to take Culp’s place) and former Okanogan County District Court Judge David Edwards. Edwards in turn introduced Justice Alexander with a list of his accomplishments, as well as a few good-natured ribbings.
“I’ve always admired Supreme Court judges because they run for election every six years and we have to run every four years and no one knows who they are,” said Edwards about the state’s longest serving chief justice.
Before the swearing in attorney Peg Callaway, Judge Culp’s wife, presented Justice Alexander with a plaque from the Okanogan County Bar Association for his service. Alexander will be taking constitutionally mandated retirement from the state Supreme Court on Dec. 31 because he turned 75-years-old this year.
About Culp, Alexander said, “If I was doing a resume I would just plagiarizer Chris’ resume. He is supremely qualified.”
He went on to joke about something the two had in common – they are both former Ford Pinto owners and like to swap stories about the much maligned cars.
With great emotion the newly installed judge said he wanted to thank his family, friends and colleagues and the judges that came to the ceremony. He also thanked his wife and the crew who set up the reception that followed.
“I look forward to serving the county for the next year and hopefully with your support for longer in the future,” he said.
Attorney Richard Price with the Bar Association applauded both Culp and former Judge Edwards for long being the face of the county’s District Court.
“You are both sober and intelligent… you have both left high marks,” said Price.
A reception followed in the District Court room and like the installation was standing room only.