Hotchkiss to retire March 31

By Karen Larsen
Empire Press Correspondent

Judge John Hotchkiss will be retiring March 31 after 20 years serving as judge of Douglas County Superior Court.

Hotchkiss is 69 years old.

A graduate of Gonzaga University, Hotchkiss practiced law in Wenatchee for almost 19 years before beginning his service as Douglas County Superior Court judge on Jan. 1, 1999.

Asked why he chose to retire, Hotchkiss said, “It’s just time.”

He said he doesn’t yet know what he will do in his retirement, but joked that he would clean his garage. He said that he and his wife Debra may also travel more. He has children and grandchildren that he will spend time with.

Hotchkiss said that the most rewarding part of his job has been to work with county employees at the courthouse. He will particularly miss the staff in the clerk’s office and his court administrator Jo Jackson. He said that he feels the employees at the courthouse are hardworking and nice people and that has made his years as Superior Court judge a pleasure.

The most challenging — but also rewarding — aspect of the job has been conducting the research needed for each case, making evaluations and then applying the law.

Child custody cases have been the most emotional.

In the end, of course, there is always a winner and a loser in every case.

“It gets to be sometimes difficult,” Hotchkiss said of this reality of the office.

Gov. Jay Inslee will be responsible for appointing a replacement for Hotchkiss to serve from April 1 until the general election Nov 5. Applications to serve as interim judge are due in the governor’s office by Feb. 1, and Inslee plans to appoint a replacement by the end of March.

The person who wins the general election will serve the remainder of Hotchkiss’ term which expires at the end of 2020.