October 25, 2021
RETIREMENT OF JUDGE ELIZABETH MARTIN
Pierce County Superior Court is announcing the retirement of Judge Elizabeth Martin after more than 11 years serving the citizens of Pierce County. Judge Martin’s last day will be November 1, 2021.
Judge Martin was born in Minnesota and spent much of her childhood in the Upper Midwest before her family relocated to Vancouver, WA. Judge Martin graduated from Hudson’s Bay High School and then obtained her bachelor’s degree from The College of Idaho in 1979.
Judge Martin remained in the Pacific Northwest to attend Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon. She graduated with honors in 1982, serving as Case Note Editor of the Willamette Law Review. While in law school, she had the opportunity to intern in the Seattle office of the National Labor Relations Board, where as fate would have it, she met her future husband, Warren, who at that time was a Field Investigator. It would be three years later, however, when they “re-met” at a conference that sparks flew. They married in 1986 and together raised two children, who are now adults and remain her pride and joy.
Immediately after law school, Judge Martin had the privilege of serving as Judicial Clerk to the late Justice Charles F. Stafford of the Washington State Supreme Court, an experience which formed the primary inspiration for her own judicial aspirations. Following her clerkship, Judge Martin joined the Tacoma firm of Gordon Thomas Honeywell in October 1983, where she remained for nearly 27 years until joining the bench. Her husband joined her at the firm in 1989 and together they became the first husband-wife attorney team. For the last ten years of her practice, Judge Martin’s focus was primarily on asbestos litigation defense work, employment discrimination and mediation/arbitration.
In May 2010, Judge Martin was appointed to the Pierce County Superior Court by Governor Christine Gregoire. During her tenure on the bench, Judge Martin filled many roles, most notably two stints as Drug Court Judge, five years on the Executive Committee and a two-year term as the Presiding Judge in 2017-2018. She served on the BJA Public Trust and Confidence Committee, and on various Superior Court Judges Association Committees, including Ethics, Mentorship, Therapeutic Courts and Civil Law and Rules, for which she was Chair. She was a member of the Robert J. Bryan Inns of Court, both as a master and a bencher as well as an active member of Pierce County Washington Women Lawyers. She was honored by Washington Women Lawyers with the Passing the Torch Award in 2011.
Presiding Judge Phil Sorensen had this to say about Judge Martin, “Judge Martin is an 11-year veteran judge. While that may sound like a long time, given the breadth of her participation in our court it is hard to believe she could have accomplished so much, so quickly. Her leadership of the court as a presiding judge, as a drug and family recovery court judge, as a family court judge and as a civil and criminal trial judge has been invaluable to judges who have followed her, like me, and to those who were already here when she arrived. Her capacity to work, her compassion in doing that work and her concern for our community will be sorely missed.”
Judge Martin considers her service to the Pierce County Superior Court as the privilege of a lifetime. The decision to retire was a bittersweet one as serving as a trial judge was a long-held dream fulfilled. She notes that a highlight for her was serving alongside such dedicated colleagues and staff. She is particularly proud of her work in the Felony Drug Court and Family Recovery Court.
Her future awaits in splitting time between her home base in the Pacific Northwest and her new desert home in Tucson, Arizona, where she and her husband plan to spend the “gray months”. She is excited to explore new volunteer opportunities, expand her newfound passions for birdwatching and bicycling and renew her long-held obsessions for travel planning, cooking, music and reading. She also hopes to continue her affiliation with the legal community through mediation and arbitration services.
Please join us in congratulating Judge Martin on her career. Due to COVID restrictions, there will not be a public retirement party.
About Pierce County Superior Court:
Pierce County Superior Court is the second largest superior court in the state of Washington and is proud to serve the citizens and visitors of Pierce County. The court is staffed with 23 judges and nine commissioners. There are three sites where court is held; the County City Building at 930 Tacoma Ave S., Tacoma, Remann Hall Juvenile Court at 5501 6th Ave, Tacoma, and Western State Hospital at 9601 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.piercecountywa.gov/superiorcourt.
Chris Gaddis, Superior Court Administrator