McCleary native and Grays Harbor District Court candidate, Kyle Imler has been practicing law on Grays Harbor for 30 years. He graduated from the University of Puget Sound law school in 1983 and in 1985, he hung his shingle in McCleary. Imler has handled “everything from murder cases down to speeding tickets.”
Imler has been the Municipal Court judge in Oakville for 26 years and a pro tem judge in other municipalities, such as Montesano, Aberdeen and Hoquiam. He worked as a public defender in District Court and is currently working as a public defender in juvenile court.
Imler and incumbent David Mistachkin were two of the candidates selected for possible appointment to the District Court seat in 2014, when Superior Court Judge Gordon Godfrey retired and District Court Judge Stephen Brown moved up. Imler said a poll with the local bar association, he came in first ahead of the other candidates, yet two of the county commissioners voted to appointed Mistachkin as judge.
“Let the people make the decision this time,” Imler said.
Treating people with dignity when they come before the court is a priority for him, Imler said.
“The concern I have — and the thing that’s concerned me over the years, is dignity toward everyone,” Imler said. “Over the 30 years I’ve done this job, I’ve handled all kinds of cases and I’ve seen every kind of person come before me as a judge — from the person who hires a big, Seattle lawyer to somebody who’s representing themselves to those who have never been in court and are scared out of their wits.”
Respect and fairness are other priorities for Imler.
“While you’re due respect as a judge, I think you owe respect to everyone who appears in front of you,” Imler said. “We have a duty to explain what their rights are and also a duty to treat everyone the same, treat everyone fair.”
A majority of cases before District Court are driving while license suspended cases, DUIs and assaults, said Imler. He would like to see an agreement between the municipalities and the county to provide a way for people to become re-licensed as a way to deal with suspended license cases that catch some people, especially if they are low income, in a revolving door of repeat offenses and fines.
“If we could have a re-licensing program, that would benefit greatly,” Imler said. He described a situation where a forgotten speeding ticket may escalate to a criminal driving while license suspended charge which then becomes a never-ending cycle of penalties, court fees and further charges because the person still needs to drive.
“People are going to always drive, we need to find a program or a way to relicense them,” Imler said.
When asked why he was running for Grays Harbor District Court judge, Imler cited community service as a driving force.
“I’d like to be able to help my community, serve my community by running,” Imler said.
He added that he appreciates people voting for him based on his 30-year history of being a lawyer and his 26 years of being the Oakville Municipal Court judge.
Imler volunteers at his church when he finds the time and he was previously involved in the Lions Club when he lived in McCleary. Since moving to the other side of the county — he and his wife live just outside of Hoquiam — he said his time has become more limited.