The Kitsap Sun here reports the unfortunate passing of Kitsap Superior Court Judge Theodore Spearman on Tuesday. Judge Spearman was 64 and died due to complications from a brain aneurysm. He had stepped down from the bench only two weeks prior. This is truly a shame!
Judge Spearman presided over a settlement conference which due to exceptional circumstances had to be held at the adjoining properties. This was a boundary dispute in which I represented one of two deadlocked parties. The fight had escalated to one of dueling surveys with criss-crossing lines all over the place.
During the course of his “shuttle diplomacy” (those were his words), Judge Spearman was able to assist both parties to recognize that there is a big difference between “interests” and “positions.”
He explained (much more eloquently than I do here) that interests were forward looking and allowed us to reach goals and aspirations whereas positions often keep us stuck and perhaps even locked in unfulfilling places.
I suspect that people often become locked into unfortunate positions in many legal disputes. This often becomes the cases in which warring neighbors lock horns. Under such circumstances, disputants often find it difficult to “capitualate” to one another despite the fact that it is in their best interest to “walk away”.
As opposing counsel to this particular case at the time related to me, Judge Spearman was known for his thoughtfulness and empathy. Because of this he was noted as an exceptional settlement judge. The experience that opposing counsel, opposing party, my client, and myself serves only to validate the truth of this assessment of Judge Spearman’s ability.
Going forward, Governor Gregoire will need to appoint a successor to fill the late Judge Spearman’s bench. Madame Govenor, you have a difficult task. Hopefully you will consider identifying a judge who shares the same ability to assist in bringing litigants together to make meaningful and forward looking settlements.
At present, God bless you Judge Spearman. My condolences to your family and friends.