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Judge Catherine McDowall Confirmed to Seattle Municipal Court Bench

On Tuesday, September 29, 2020, the Seattle City Council unanimously confirmed Pro Tem Judge Catherine McDowall to fill the Seattle Municipal Court judicial position vacated by Judge Ed McKenna, who retired in April 2020. Judge McDowall was appointed by Mayor Jenny Durkan after a unanimous recommendation from a Judicial Evaluation Committee, which included representatives from several of the local Minority Bar Associations, City Attorney’s Office, and the Public Defender Association. Judge McDowall will be sworn in on October 12, 2020.

“I am honored to fill this vacancy on Seattle Municipal Court. I have an enormous amount of respect for the current judges on the court, and I look forward to working with them during this dynamic time of reform and change,” said Judge McDowall.

Judge McDowall will join a diverse Seattle Municipal Court bench – women and men whose identities find roots in our Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, Jewish and LGBTQ communities – and she will bring a female majority to the bench for the first time in recent history.

“We are in a period of profound change, and as we move forward in a new era for Seattle Municipal Court, Judge McDowall will be an excellent addition to the bench,” said Assistant Presiding Judge Adam Eisenberg. “She has served in our court for seven years and is an exceptional judge. My fellow judges and I look forward to partnering with Judge McDowall as we continue working to evolve our legal system and equitably serve the people who come before us.”

Since 2013, Judge McDowall has served as Judge Pro Tempore on the Seattle Municipal Court, King County District Court, and King County Superior Court Juvenile Division. She has presided over a variety of calendars and specialty courts, including Mental Health Court, Community Court, and Veterans Treatment Court. Judge McDowall received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, then attended the University of Virginia School of Law for her Juris Doctorate. She began her career in private practice doing civil litigation in Washington, D.C. before moving to Seattle, where she joined the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as a deputy prosecutor in 1998 and was later promoted to senior deputy prosecutor. She has 18 years of courtroom experience in Washington State alone, working on all types of criminal cases from misdemeanors to felonies, and at all levels from filing to appeals.