Alumni Association President Takes On New Appointment

George Fearing '79 Will Be Division III Judge

Alumni Association President George Fearing will be leaving his appointed position at Walla Walla University to be a district judge in Washington state.

George Fearing '79, current Walla Walla University Alumni Association president, has been appointed to the Division III bench in Spokane to replace Judge Sweeney, who retired April 30. As a result, he will be leaving his appointed position at WWU because, under the Washington Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge must resign from office from all organizations, except those organizations devoted to improvement of the legal system.  The purpose of this rule is to protect the independence of the judiciary.

"George has been proactive in his leadership of the Alumni Association this past year," says Terri Dickinson Neil, Alumni and Parent Relations Director.  "Last year, as president-elect, he attended many classes and WWU functions to begin to get to know those on campus as well as alumni.  This year, as president, he has attended alumni events, including those out of state and actively participated in Alumni Homecoming in April.  It has been a pleasure to work alongside George in connecting with our alumni."

His new appointment will start June 24 and will be the third person in the court’s 44-year history to hold the District 2 seat representing nine southeastern counties.

Division III covers everything east of the Cascades. The court reviews the decisions of trial judges. It can affirm a case by finding that a judge did everything right, send it back for a new trial or sentencing, or dismiss the matter.

Fearing, 55, recognizes it will be a big change to don the black robe this summer.
The son of a Seventh-day Adventist minister, Fearing moved around the country before attending Walla Walla College for his bachelor’s in business administration.

Fearing has been with the same firm since his law-school days in Seattle — and will now wrap up his caseload and say goodbye to his partners at Leavy, Schultz, Davis & Fearing.

Fearing’s focus has been in civil litigation, representing municipalities like Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, Benton and Franklin counties, and other cities throughout Eastern Washington. He also has handled cases for school and irrigation districts.

Fearing said the Court of Appeals will be a good fit for him because he’s handled many appeals in his more than 30 years practicing law. He estimates that in a given year, he’s written between 10 and 15 appeal briefs and argued before the judges five to 10 times.

Judge Sweeney announced earlier this year that he would retire after 21 years with the court. His replacement was appointed, since Sweeney left two years into a six-year term.

Fearing has known Sweeney for 22 years. He first met Sweeney when he was a junior in law school at the University of Washington in 1981 when Sweeney offered him a summer internship with the Tri-Cities firm. He was offered a job at the firm following his graduation in 1982, and he has now been there for his entire career.

“It’s a big honor,” Fearing said. “It’s an honor to be appointed by Gov. Inslee, and I pray that I will do an excellent job for the citizens of Washington state.”

Published May 28, 2013

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