Introduction

Judge Rick White retired in July, 2011, after almost 21 years as a District Court Judge. He doesn't call this stage of his life a retirement. Instead he calls it his “re-creation”.

Starting eight years ago, Judge White began volunteering to serve mediator and arbitrator. He wrote the other judges and encouraged them to refer cases for “no fee charged” mediations and arbitrations. It was his desire to help people through a very painful life experience like a divorce or other legal problem.

Judge White worked with over 100 different lawyers and arbitrated or mediated over 350 disputes. More than 95 percent of the meditations successfully settled. Certainly, not all the clients are happy. Generally, the parties reported feeling of relief and satisfaction from the resolution and settlement of the case. Rarely does anyone report feelings of having won.

Judge White is now available to serve as a mediator, arbitrator, and discovery master on all legal disputes.

Professional Experience

Judge Rick White (ret.) served as a Spokane County District Court judge from January 1991 until retirement in July 2011. He was first appointed to the bench and reelected every four years thereafter.

He graduated with a B.A. Degree from Gonzaga University in 1973 and received his JD degree from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1980.

Judge White practiced law for 10 years before being appointed to the bench. Most of his career as a lawyer, he worked as a partner in the Evens, Cravens, & Lackie law firm. The focus of his law practice was family law and a general trial practice.

Judge White has been an active member of many nonprofit community boards. Presently, he is the chair of the Spokane Public Library Board of Trustees and he is also a member of the Board of Directors of Excelsior Youth Center.

In the past, Judge White served on many other boards including KSPS Friends of 7, West Central Community Center, L'Arche of Spokane and the Spokane Public School Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board.

During his career as a judge was active in the Judges in the Classroom and Street Law programs. Judge White has been awarded the Professional of the Year award by the Family Law Section of the Washington State Bar Association. He also received the Distinguished Judicial Service Award from Gonzaga University School of Law.

Judge White is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Gonzaga Law School. He teaches Community Property and the Family Law section of the Washington Practice courses. The students awarded him the Adjunct Professor of the year four years in a row.

Cost for Services

The fee is $200 per hour. This fee is split equally between the parties unless there is some other agreement or court order. Generally, a mediation requires at least two hours. The average mediation takes 4-6 hours. There isn't any way to accurately predict how long a mediation or arbitration will last. Before the mediation or arbitration, Judge White will review the court files and anything else the parties submit. There is no retainer fee. A billing invoice is prepared at the conclusion of the meeting and payment is required at that time. Payments can be made by check or credit card.

Overview of the Difference between Mediation and Arbitration

Mediation and arbitration are completely different processes that share at least one common principle: in both processes the parties have decided to engage in a dispute resolution process that is outside of the court house and is less formal and generally much less expensive and stressful than the traditional legal process.

In an arbitration, the parties decide whether or not the arbitrator's decision is final and binding or if the arbitrator’s decision can be appealed in the formal court process.

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Parties that desire to engage in an arbitration are looking for an efficient, well-reasoned and cost effective resolution of their legal dispute. Generally, the arbitrator applies the same rules regarding the admissibility and non-admissibility of evidence that a judge would apply in a courtroom. The arbitrator, according to the agreement of the parties, is usually required to make the final decision in the case. Usually the parties agreed in the beginning of the arbitration hearing, that the final decision is binding and cannot be appealed. Alternatively, the parties can also agree that the arbitration decision may be reviewed and appealed to the traditional courtroom process.

The most important skills of the arbitrator is his or her ability to listen and his or her knowledge of the law applicable to the case. Unlike a traditional jury trial court room process, the arbitrator can pose questions to the witnesses and to the lawyers.

Mediation is entirely different from arbitration. The mediator does not make the ultimate decision. The parties, collectively, decide the issues in the case. A settlement in the mediation means that all of the parties have agreed on the outcome of the legal dispute. If no agreement is reached, there is no settlement, and the case proceeds on the litigation path.

As with arbitration, the mediator's greatest skills are the ability to listen and a knowledge of the laws applicable to the legal dispute.

In meditations, generally, the parties are together in the same room during only the first stage of the process while the mediator listens and learns about the nature of the dispute and the parties’ positions, their agreements and disagreements regarding the facts and law.

After the initial meeting where everyone is present, all of the parties are moved to separate conference rooms and the mediator works with one side of the case to create a settlement offer and then communicates the offer to the other parties. Thereafter, the mediator travels back and forth between the parties relaying settlement offers. If an agreement is reached, the settlement is reduced to a written agreement that everyone signs. The signed settlement is binding and enforceable by the court.

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Agreement to mediate download here


Judge Applies Law to Students' Lives.

Author: Nina Culver
The Spokesman-Review
Date: April 18, 2009

When Spokane County District Court Judge Richard White spoke to Stacy Delcour's senior civics class at West Valley High School on Thursday, he seemed as at home in the classroom as he was in his black robe. He was there to discuss the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unlawful search and seizure, as part of the international Street Law program that teaches high school students about the law as it applies to them.

White has been volunteering in classrooms for 18 years. "I've been in every junior high and high school in the county," he said. Thursday's discussion centered on the circumstances police need to get a search warrant and how warrants restrict police officers.

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As an example, White cited a recent 3:30 a.m. call he'd received from a police detective seeking a warrant to search a home for evidence of a rape. The warrant restricted police to collecting certain items as evidence from only one location in the house. "I have to be persuaded that there is probable cause that a crime has been committed," he said. The students asked what would happen if police found evidence of another crime elsewhere in the house. If the officer collected the other evidence, it would likely be ruled inadmissible at trial, White said, even if the person was guilty. "The point is, was the evidence found in violation of the Fourth Amendment?" he said. "My job is to make sure the parties in a case follow the law."

White's been visiting Delcour's classroom monthly since the beginning of the year. She said her students are more engaged in the class and find it more relevant. White's discussions add life to what can be dry, clinical explanations of constitutional amendments and laws. "The kids really like it," she said.

White said he wants to put a face on the judicial system and doesn't want students to be afraid of the court system. "It's fun," he said. "These are really interesting issues. The kids get a kick out of it." His volunteer work has intersected with his day job. More than a dozen years ago, White said, he was talking about law to students at a Spokane middle school. The teacher had students write him thank you notes.

White was struck by one note in particular, written by a student with an unusual name, which said the student had learned a lot and would try hard to stay out of trouble. The boy included his fingerprints in pencil at the bottom of the letter.

The letter was framed and has hung on White's wall for years. About 10 years after he received it, White spotted someone with the same name on his court docket. He sent his clerk to fetch the letter from his office, and, when the man's turn came, the judge asked if the two had met.

The man didn't remember the encounter until he was shown the letter. "It is me," he said. "I guess I didn't try hard enough."

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County's Dui Court Offers Clean Start For Drunken Drivers.

Author: John Craig staff writer
The Spokesman-Review
Date: March 19, 2009

More than three years in the making, Spokane County's first DUI Court "graduation" ceremony conferred new leases on life instead of diplomas to a half-dozen former drunken drivers. "I'm just thankful that I got caught," Kathleen Copeland told Judge Richard White and other public officials last week. "You guys are lifesavers."

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Copeland cited her own alcohol-caused kidney disease as well as people she might have killed if she had continued to drive under the influence. That and other remembrances of alcohol's victims tempered an otherwise upbeat gathering in the District Court's Spokane Valley courtroom, home of the DUI Court.

White began the celebration by calling attention to photographs of five people who were killed by drunken drivers. "It's not just about you six," White told graduates of the DUI Intensive Supervision Program he has directed for the past two years. "It's about those six people, too." The photographs came from a memorial display at the office of the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, where a plaque proclaims: "The work we do, we do for those that we have lost." "Our executive director's son is in the middle," said Kendra Juarez, programs coordinator for the council's Prevention Center.

She pointed to the photo of Linda Thompson's 3-year-old son, Trevor Pierce, who was killed in 1986 by a chronic drunken driver. Alcoholism also claimed the lives of two people in the DUI Court, White said. He said the program was about 1 1/2 years old when Jeremy Danielson took his own life while still in his early 20s. "I knew this program was going to be successful when I went to his funeral and saw so many of you there," White said, addressing many of the 53 who remain in the program as well as the graduates.

Then Ed Sedow died last year from alcohol-induced liver disease. "God bless his soul, too," White said. But the ceremony was about hope for the future. "We want to congratulate you tonight as professionals on this great achievement," Juarez said, identifying herself as the daughter of a recovering alcoholic. "As community members, we want to thank you for making good choices, for making all our families safer, for making our roads safer." Graduate Tamra Moore was grateful for the opportunity to raise her new daughter without alcohol's influence.

"My daughter hasn't seen that side of me, and it gives me the chance to be the type of person I want to be," she said. A single mother, Moore credited the DUI Court with helping her find the strength to do the right things with her youngest child and to try to make amends with the older children who saw her at her worst.

Graduate Rhiannon Sells knows about that. Sells' 9-year-old daughter was in the back seat when she was last arrested for drunken driving. None of the graduates had fewer than two DUIs, and one had five. Some who are still in the program have many more than that. "It's a day at a time with him," White said after the ceremony, nodding toward a man with an alcohol monitor strapped to his ankle.

White refers to the DUI Court program as "making the world a little bit bigger." Participants start under tight control and earn freedom gradually. "We just keep making their world bigger and bigger and bigger until they notice, 'Oh, my God, it's been two years,' " White said. Many participants relapse during their first year in the program, and White orders them to spend more time in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings - which are an integral part of the program - or he sends them to jail.

"It could be five days, 10 days, 15 days - whatever I think is necessary," he said. Five of the six graduates served more than 90 days in jail. Even though the program is voluntary and participants may well serve more time in jail or on electronic monitoring than they would otherwise, only one has dropped out. Two were expelled for continued drunken driving, but White said one of those continues to come to court sessions occasionally even though he gets no credit. "The last time I saw him, about two months ago, he was about six months clean and sober," White said. "We'll do anything we can to help him." The man's father also had an alcohol problem and expressed his appreciation for help he received 16 years ago in a letter so moving that White had it framed and mounted on a wall in his office.

Spokane County had no treatment-oriented DUI or drug courts at that time. White said such "therapeutic courts" were developed about 20 years ago in Dade County, Fla., (now Miami-Dade County), and Spokane County officials began studying the idea about 14 years ago.

Superior Court judges established a drug court 11 years ago, and District Court judges decided 3 1/2 years ago to follow suit with a DUI court. Getting into the Spokane County DUI program requires only a desire to quit drinking. Getting out with a gold star requires a year of sobriety, completion of a clinical treatment program, weekly meetings with a probation officer, attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step program meetings, and twice-a-month court hearings, a process that typically spans three years.

During the court hearings, White abandons his bench to sit at an attorney table where participants come up one at a time to discuss their progress - loud enough for everyone in the room to hear. If one of his charges has a crisis between hearings, "it's like a fire drill," White said. He clears his docket and gives the problem immediate attention.

Probation officers also provide personal service, and DUI Court graduates singled out probation officer Julie Driscoll again and again at last Thursday's ceremony. "It's really hard going to the court system when everybody's against you, and it seemed like it was, but Julie is the first one who actually stood up for us and said, 'Hey, you guys can do it,' " graduate Tracy Mesecher said. Alcoholics Anonymous, another source of personal support, also received kudos. Many believe a key to the success for therapeutic courts is the personal attention of judges. White thinks the courts also are efficient use of judicial resources. "In an hour and a half, I can talk to 30 people and communicate my disappointment or my pleasure in what they're doing," he said.

Many judges have said such intimate contact gave them an epiphany, "that they would never look at defendants the same way again," White said. Retired District Court Judge Michael Padden agreed. As one of the DUI Court's first judges, along with District Court Judge Patti Walker, Padden turned out last week to see the fruits of his labor. "I'm very excited to see these people succeed and be able to change their lives," he said. "It's sort of a redemption experience."

"This is the best day of my judicial career," White said.

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