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11/08/13 10:54 am Age: 2 yrs

WWU Alumnus Retains State Court Judge Position


By: Rachel Wood

Judge George Fearing Elected to Washington State Court of Appeals

Photo by Rachel Wood

George Fearing, Walla Walla University alumnus and former Alumni Association president, was elected on Tuesday to retain his position as Position 1 Judge for the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 3, District 2.

Fearing will continue the role he stepped into five months ago when Washington state governor Jay Inslee appointed Fearing to serve in the position vacated by Dennis Sweeney, who was retiring.

Fearing told the Tri-City Herald, “(Sweeney)’s the one responsible for getting my job in the Tri-Cities, and now he’s retiring and I’m getting his job.”

When Fearing was a law student at University of Washington, he was approached by Dennis Sweeney, who connected him with a summer internship at a firm in Kennewick. This internship turned into a job offer and after graduation, Fearing accepted the job. He joined the partners in Leavy, Schultz, and Davis as a trial lawyer, eventually becoming a partner himself.

During his 30 years as a trial lawyer at the firm, he managed more than 90 appeals, and primarily represented local companies and law enforcement officers in legal disputes, as well as commercial and employment disputes.

Fearing, who particularly enjoys writing and legal research, is known for his upstanding character, integrity, and extensive knowledge of the law. His generosity and genuine concern have been demonstrated by his willingness to provide legal services free of charge to charitable organizations and individuals who are unable to afford the fees of legal advice.

Beginning in his formative years, Fearing’s parents instilled in him an ethic of hard work and service of others. As the son of a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and a nurse, he learned to live by these principles early in life. He continues to live by these principles today. He understands that the role of a judge is to listen to each case and use the established law to reach a fair verdict.

Many know Fearing from his service in the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a teacher, board member, and, more recently, the president-elect of the WWU Alumni Association from 2011-12 and the president from 2012-13. This year, Fearing has been honored as the WWU Alumnus of the Decade for the 1970s.

Fearing obtained his bachelor’s in business administration from WWU in 1979, with minors in political science and religion. He went on to complete his law degree from the University of Washington in 1982.

Although Fearing was excited to begin this next chapter in his career, he felt sad to leave his post at the firm which he had been a part of for 30 years. He told the Tri-City Herald, “It’s very exciting. It’s an emotional day, and it’s bittersweet because I’ve had wonderful clients and I’ve had wonderful partners, and I will be missing them.” Even though he will miss his colleagues back at the firm, he serves with five of his former classmates on the Court of Appeals. He officially began his work as the Division 3 bench judge in Spokane on June 24.

The task of the judge of Division 3 of the Court of Appeals is to review the verdicts of trial judges. As judge, Fearing evaluates each trial judge’s verdict and if the trial judge did everything right, then he approves it. He also has the power to send the trial judge’s verdict back for a new trial or dismiss it altogether.

Fearing, as a Division 3 judge, represents nine counties in southeast Washington, including: Adams, Asotin, Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Walla Walla and Whitman.

When he is not busy approving verdicts or conducting legal research, Fearing enjoys reading history and listening to classical music. He enjoys climbing Badger Mountain in Richland with his teenage son. Fearing has also written four unpublished history books.

Published November 8, 2013.

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