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Phil Owen, director of SIDEWALK , a program of Interfaith Works whose mission is to eliminate homelessness in Thurston County was the speaker at the February 3, 2014, meeting of the Olympia Kiwanis Club.

 

Homelessness is down 17% in the US, since 2007.  In 2013, SIDEWALK placed 170 individuals in housing.  By using rapid rehousing to end homelessness - a rental assistance program that combines continued case management with rent support - the cycle of homelessness can be broken.  SIDEWALK is run almost entirely by volunteers, who receive 50 hours of training before they begin their volunteer activities.  For more information, contact:  www.walkthurston.org or call 360-515-5587.  Volunteer training happens every quarter.  


Jan B
  Posted on: Monday, August 25, 2003
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Judge Daniel J. Berschauer
A Day in the Life of a Superior Court Judge

   
 
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Judge Daniel J. Berschauer is a native of Olympia, OHS graduate, Husky (both undergraduate and law school), former King County deputy prosecutor, district court judge, and since 1984 Thurston County Superior Court judge.  Judge Berschauer shared about the types of cases handled in superior court including criminal (30-40% of case load), family law, civil law, Land Use Petition Act hearings, and particularly in Thurston County administrative hearings under the Administrative Procedures Act that allows for appeal of decisions of state agencies. 

Judge Berschauer, in addition to anecdotes of defendants' humorous statements to law enforcement and during court hearings, shared about the rich history and deep sense of responsibility of officers of our court system.  He reminded our long term residents that he replaced Judge Hewitt Henry in 1984 who we were told was also a past officer and member of Olympia Kiwanis.  Judge Henry followed in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, Washington Territorial Superior Court Judge Christopher Charles Hewitt.  Berschauer read from a Hewitt decision in the case history book for 1854-1879 (a single volume for 25 years versus volumes more from today's court).  The case was "Elick, an Indian, versus Washington Territory (1861)" and dealt with the concept of the need for a translator during trial.  A part of the quote was that "the savage of the forest is the peer of the president", powerful indicator of the democratic society as embodied in our constitution and protected by our judicial system.

Judge Berschauer also shared about the difficult budget constraints that face our justice system today.  Thurston County is short one superior court judge and has only a single law clerk to service seven judges.  While "The Olympian" reported just today on the drops in violent crime, Berschauer explained that crimes are still more than plentiful and are not victimless even when non-violent.  Some types of cases are increasing in number such as dependency (children with no responsible adult to care for them) and guardianship (primarily seniors who may be unable to care for themselves), but if asked to summarize in a word the biggest drain on the system Berschauer's comment would be "methamphetamine," an addiction that can take years for complete detox and destroys lives in our community daily. 

Judge Berschauer invited all citizens to visit the court to actually view the justice system at work.  Most our members have served on a jury and Berschauer encouraged us to heed the call whenever asked to serve.  He quoted an article by editorialist Anna Quinlan about how jury duty may not only make us better citizens, but better human beings as we set about the task of listening, not pre-judging based on outward appearances, and examining the facts with a keen sense of the consequences of our decision.  Ms. Quinlan also quoted Alex De Tocgueville who wrote that as we commit to serving the interest of others then some of our own "private selfishness" which he describes as the "rust of society" is scraped away.

Judge Berschauer was an excellent speaker who spent much time answering a host of questions before needing to head back to his courtroom.  Before he left though, President Lien was able to present Rotarian Berschauer with our special Olympia Kiwanis mug that we're certain he'll put to good use.

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