The schools and community of Longview, Washington have long supported the development of outstanding individuals whose contributions have enriched the city, state, nation, and world. We would like to take some time to highlight some of these notable individuals and the nurturing community from which they came. These bright spots in the Longview community exemplify the values that the Longview School District aims to instill in all of its students and serve as beacons of integrity, passion, and brilliance. Here, we introduce the next of many notable Longview Luminaries.
Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy graduated from R.A. Long in 1983. Before becoming a judge, she practiced law in Olympia with the Attorney General’s Office for more than 17 years. She was elected to Superior Court in 2008 and began her first term in 2009. Currently, in her third-term and presiding over civil and felony criminal trials, her experience on the bench includes four years as Presiding Judge for Superior Court, Criminal Presiding Judge for two years and Presiding Judge for Thurston County DUI/Drug Court for three years.
What made you want to become lawyer?
I don’t really have a grand story. When I was in high school, I was quite involved in student government. I thought it would look good on college scholarship applications to say that my goal was to be a lawyer. It wasn’t until I was in law school that I began to discover what I might actually do as a lawyer.
Did you always want to be a judge, or did that come after years of being an attorney?
I was very satisfied with my 17-year career at the Attorney General’s Office, and I did not anticipate becoming a judge or running for any office. After a judge announced his planned retirement, I tried unsuccessfully to recruit some excellent attorneys to run. Eventually, several attorneys convinced me to run for the position. Because of the many restrictions that apply to judicial elections, I needed the support of the legal community, my friends and family for the campaign to be successful.
What do you like best, and least, about being a Superior Court Judge?
Challenging legal issues and serving my community are the highlights of the job. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of our justice system and constantly learn new things. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that the lack of resources in our courts, where efficiency sometimes drives results, is a major obstacle to justice. Also, I really dislike seeing jurors who, in order to fulfill their civic obligation, must endure the disruption and trauma of exhausting days of sometimes complex or grim evidence with little to no compensation.
How has your profession changed your life perspective?
I appreciate, more than ever, the importance of civic education. Understanding how our courts, justice system, and government actually work from fact-based sources prepares each of us to exercise our critical role in those systems. I am active in our state’s Civic Learning Council, and I often visit classrooms and host visits to the courthouse to help in that process.
My perspective of those involved in the court system has changed drastically as well. I often see people at the lowest time in their lives, whether as an accused person, a crime victim, or a person involved in litigation (such as a family law case). Through training and experience, I am better at relating to those whose values and life experience are different from my own. I also see directly the real impact of policy decisions that others do not see.
Do you have a favorite teacher from Longview Public Schools? If so, what about him/her made them your favorite teacher?
Several favorite teachers and coaches significantly impacted my life. Those that immediately come to mind are Mike Noah, Flavia Loeb, Marge McKay, Jim LeMonds, and Dwight Cranston. They were inspirational role models for me in different ways. Coach Cranston was present at the ceremony when I was sworn in as a judge, and that was very special to me. I also recall that during my senior year, I took a 7:00 a.m. grammar class taught by the Superintendent at the time, Dr. Grant Hendrickson. That class really helped prepare me for the writing involved in my career as a lawyer.
Can you tell me one or two of your fondest memories from your time in Longview schools?
My best memories are the friendships developed and time spent engaged in sports activities, including participating in track and cross county, and serving as the manager for the girls basketball team.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self in high school about work and life?
I really had no idea about careers in high school. Even in college, I stuck with a major I did not enjoy. If you don’t love learning about something, you probably aren’t going to enjoy working in that field. I realize now that most people who love their jobs really enjoy sharing their passion with young people. So, I encourage high school and college students to connect with people who are doing jobs they might be interested in (even if you don’t know them!), ask them questions, job shadow, and explore careers.