Incumbent Kris Hedine has announced he will seek reelection as the full-time Walla Walla County District Court judge.
District courts handle misdemeanors, traffic infractions, civil and small claims cases.
Walla Walla County’s district court has two judges, a full-time presiding judge who manages most cases, and a part-time judge who handles a smaller caseload and can fill in if the full-time judge is unavailable.
Hedine was first elected to the court’s part-time judge position in 2010. At the end of a full four-year term, he was elected to the court’s full-time position in 2014 and again in 2018.
Prior to running for election as judge, Hedine served on a number of community boards and was an officer of various area charities, such as Walla Walla Community Hospice, Fort Walla Walla Museum and United Way of Walla Walla, he said in an interview.
Since first being elected to the bench, Hedine has been an active member of the District Municipal Court Judges Association, serving as chair of the Bylaws Committee and as a member of the Department of Licensing Liaison Committee and the Nominating Committee, he said.
During his tenure, Hedine said he has worked to modernize the court’s use of technology to streamline court procedures, including implementing the use of video for hearings with incarcerated people rather than transporting them from jail.
He also put in place a system of reviewing search warrants by email. Many warrants, including for cases that would be reviewed by the county’s superior court, are signed off by Hedine or occasionally the part-time district court judge.
If a warrant needed to be served after hours, this often involved traveling to a judge’s house in person for review, a process streamlined through the use of email.
Hedine was also the first Walla Walla District Court judge, to his knowledge, who uses a laptop on the bench to access various databases useful for his duties.
Hedine grew up in the Walla Walla Valley, having moved here in 1963 and graduating from Walla Walla High School in 1974. Though he left for a time for college and law school, he returned to the area in 1981 and has been practicing law in the region ever since he passed the bar in 1982.