Independence

During his career John Ruhl has worked tirelessly to protect the independence of the judiciary from special interest groups. He also has worked hard to find innovative, practical ways to make dispute resolution services more accessible for King County’s citizens.

John Ruhl - HB 1226 Signing Ceremony

John Ruhl, Gov. Chris Gregoire, Charlie Wiggins and Rep. Shay Schual-Berke at the signing of the law limiting contributions to judicial campaigns.

  • Limits on Contributions to Judicial Campaigns. In 2007, as an officer of the King County Bar Association, John lobbied hard in the successful effort to pass the law that sets contribution limits in state judicial election campaigns.
  • On-Line Judicial Voter Guide.  In order to help Washington voters, John led the effort to establish Washington’s non-partisan, nationally award-winning on-line judicial voter guide, www.votingforjudges.com.  In 2007 the American Bar Association presented the program with its Silver Gavel Award, the ABA’s most prestigious award for public legal education programs.   The project also received the Paul H. Chapman Award, from the Atlanta, Georgia-based Foundation for Improvement of Justice.
  • Dispute Resolution Center of King County. In 1986 John was an incorporator and served as the founding president of the Dispute Resolution Center of King County, a citizen-based non-profit organization that provides free and reduced-fee mediation services for King County citizens.  The Center currently also provides free mediators for all parties in Small Claims Court cases.  The Center provides a valuable alternative to conventional court litigation.  Every case mediated to settlement before trial saves significant expenses not only for the parties but also for the court.
  • Discovery Limits to Reduce Litigation Costs in Civil Lawsuits.  In 2004-2005, John led a King County Bar Association committee that drafted and successfully proposed several improvements to the King County Superior Court’s local civil rules, all of which have resulted in significant savings for many parties in civil cases: (1) KCLR 26(b), which presumptively limits the number of discovery requests that parties may serve one another and the number of depositions that can be taken; (2) KCLR 33, which provides for pattern interrogatories in certain kinds of cases (See http://www.kcba.org/4lawyers/pattern.aspx); and (3) a new pilot program for early mediation of certain civil cases.
  • Proposed Judicial Performance Evaluation Program.  In January 2014, on behalf of the American Judicature Society, John presented to the Washington Supreme Court a proposed new court rule that would establish a state-wide judicial performance evaluation program, which would provide constructive feedback for judges and valuable information for voters in judicial elections.
  • Bench-Bar Conferences, 2016 and 2019. In 2016 and in 2019, John co-chaired two well-attended King County Bar Association continuing-legal-education conferences: Pretrial Procedures-Good Intentions and Unintended Consequences(October 2016), and The Rules of the Game … or Gaming the Rules? (March 2019). The conferences provided forums for members of the bench and the bar to collaborate to identify and work to solve procedural problems in civil litigation, reduce the cost and complexity of civil procedure, and increase fairness and accessibility of the courts.
  • Escalating Costs of Civil Litigation Rules Drafting Task Force. In 2017-2018, John served as a member of the Washington State Bar Association’s Escalating Costs of Civil Litigation Rules Drafting Task Force, and chaired its Early Discovery Conference Rule Subcommittee.

Judge Ruhl is continuing to work collaboratively with members of the bench and the bar to find innovative, practical solutions to improve our courts so as to better serve King County’s citizens.