The Supreme Court of Washington censured and suspended Debra L. Burchett, a judge on the Cowlitz County District Court, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. The case is styled as ‘In the Matter of The Honorable Debra L. Burchett’ with case number #202,068-2.
The judge was charged with violating Canon 1, Rules 1.1 and 1.2, and Canon 2, Rules 2.2, 2.3(A), 2.4(B), 2.5(A), and 2.6(A) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which require:
Judges to respect and comply with the law and to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.
A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.
A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office, including administrative duties, without bias or prejudice.
A judge shall not permit family, social, political, financial, or other interests or relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment.
A judge shall perform judicial and administrative duties competently and diligently.
A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person’s lawyer, the right to be heard according to law.
The judicial canons can be found here.
The order reads:
“The stipulation was entered after a Statement of Charges had been filed, and Judge Burchett agreed to a portion of the charges in exchange for a stated discipline. Judge Burchett violated the Code by going off the record during a hearing on a traffic infraction, without giving a reason and dismissing the case, again without giving a reason when she returned on the record; and by awarding a counterclaim in a case where the defendants had not filed one.”
The order continues:
“The Commission, noting that the judge had been sanctioned the previous year, censured Judge Burchett and recommended a ten-day suspension from office. Judge Burchett also agreed she will not seek reelection at the end of her term nor hold future judicial office without Commission approval. She is required to review the Code of Judicial Conduct within thirty days. The State Supreme Court approved the stipulation and imposed a ten-day suspension without pay.”
The Judge is in Courtroom 207, 312 SW 1st Ave in Kelso, and can be reached at 360-577-3073 https://www.courts.wa.gov/court_dir/?fa=court_dir.persondetail&indid=899&orgid=363 .
A copy of the original filing can be found here.