The Grays Harbor County Superior Court recently appointed retired Judge Michael Spencer as its first dedicated Superior Court Commissioner effective Aug. 1, according to Superior Court Judge David L. Edwards.
About half of Spencer’s four-day a week schedule will be spent at the newly-established Involuntary Treatment Act Court in McCleary.
“In September, a new court will begin operating at the mental health facility being opened in McCleary,” said Edwards. “Commissioner Spencer will preside over all hearings to process applications for the involuntary commitment and treatment of mentally ill persons who have been taken into custody.”
A Superior Court Commissioner has authority to do most of what elected Superior Court judges can do. When not at the Involuntary Treatment Act Court, Spencer will preside over a wide range of civil, domestic and criminal cases, said Edwards.
“To effectively manage the Grays Harbor County Superior Court’s current caseload, 4.5 judges are required, as estimated by the state’s Administrative Office of the Court,” said Edwards. “There are three elected judges in Grays Harbor County Superior Court, and by appointing Commissioner Spencer, the court will be able to bring civil and family law cases to a conclusion with minimal waiting times.”
Spencer graduated with honors from Gonzaga University Law School in 1976. He came to Grays Harbor in 1977 and joined the Grays Harbor County Prosecutor’s Office, where he served as a deputy, chief criminal deputy, and was twice elected Prosecuting Attorney.
In 1987 he successfully ran for Superior Court judge and was re-elected in 1992. He entered private practice in 1993 with the Montesano law firm Brown, Lewis, Janhunen and Spencer, and left private practice in May 2018. Spencer has routinely served as a pro tem judge and court commissioner since leaving the firm, said Edwards.