After 25 years with the Kent Municipal Court, Judge Glenn Phillips has decided it’s, “time to step down.”
Phillips will retire later this year after Mayor Dana Ralph appoints a replacement. Michael Frans is the other Kent Municipal Court judge. The court handles criminal misdemeanors such as petty theft, simple assault, prostitution and other similar cases.
“I just turned 65 and, while there is no mandatory retirement age for Municipal Court judges, I feel it is time to step down,” Phillips said in an email.
City voters re-elected Phillips in 2017 when he ran unopposed. He will retire with two years left on his term.
“This will allow the city to appoint a replacement they feel will best serve the court and the residents of Kent,” Phillips said about leaving prior to his term expiring. “Voters will then have the opportunity to evaluate the performance of my replacement at the next election.”
Ralph will appoint a judge later this year to the vacant position to serve through Dec. 31, 2021. To retain the seat, the judge must run for election in November 2021. Ralph picked Frans, a defense attorney, last year to fill the seat vacated when Judge Karli Jorgensen retired. Jorgensen ran unopposed for the seat in 2017 and 2013 after then-Mayor Suzette Cooke appointed her in December 2011 to replace Robert McSeveney.
Phillips has been a municipal judge since 2002. He joined the court in 1994 as a court commissioner, the same year Kent started a Municipal Court. The city previously contracted with King County to handle misdemeanors. Phillips has seen a lot of changes over the years.
“Biggest is the ongoing advancements in technology – and there have been too many of those to list,” he said. “Additionally, the city has exploded in size – at the time the court started in 1994 the population was a little over 62,000 and now it is approaching 130,000.”
Phillips graduated from the University of Evansville, Indiana in 1976 with a bachelor of science in law enforcement. In 1981, after completing service in the U.S. Air Force, he graduated with honors from Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane.
The judge made it clear what he will miss most about the job.
“Definitely the staff,” he said. “We have an amazing group of dedicated employees.”
Phillips looks forward to retirement, but also plans to return to court for part-time work.
“Work at taking care of myself, play music, read and start downsizing the various ‘stuff’ I have accumulated over the years,” Phillips said. “I will also be contacting some of the Municipal Courts in King and Snohomish counties to be added to their judge pro-tem lists – including the city of Kent.”
A judge pro tem fills in during the absence of elected or appointed judges.
Phillips will cherish his years in Kent.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve the city, court and the residents of Kent,” he said. “I can’t think of a better place to have spent my judicial career.”
City seeks applicants
Candidates to replace Phillips are not required to live in Kent, but they must reside in King County. State law requires candidates to be U.S. citizens and licensed to practice law in Washington. Those who qualify can apply online at jobs.kentwa.gov/jobs by Aug. 23 and should submit a cover letter, résumé, uniform judicial evaluation questionnaire and a King County Bar supplemental questionnaire. The position pays $172,753 per year.