Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed local attorney Ray W. Kahler to the Grays Harbor County Superior Court. Kahler will replace Judge F. Mark McCauley, who is retiring at the end of the year.
“Ray’s legal experience has focused on protections for individuals and making communities safer for everyone,” Inslee said. “He is highly regarded in the legal community, not just for his keen intellect but also for his professionalism and compassion.”
This will be Kahler’s first time on the bench. He has been an attorney with Stritmatter Kessler Whelan Koehler Moore Kahler since 1996. The firm has offices in Hoquiam and Seattle.
“I have been in practice for 21 years,” said Kahler. During his time with the firm, he has successfully represented clients in major product liability and wrongful death cases. In 2014, he respresented a man who suffered severe tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears) and hyperacusis (increased sensitivity to normal environmental sounds) as a result of an electrical explosion. That case caught the media’s attention when a jury awarded his client $3.8 million in damages.
Why make the jump to civil service, after so many years of successful practice, Kahler was asked.
“I’ve always had an interest in public service, and the opportunity arose and I decided the timing was right to put my name in for that,” he said.
A member and past president and vice president of the Grays Harbor Bar Association, Kahler received high marks from his peers in evaluations provided by fellow Bar members, which Gov. Inslee considered when making the appointment. “It was an honor to get the support of the Bar Association, and of course to get the appointment from the governor,” he said.
Kahler said he plans to bring to the bench a level of fairness to all the parties involved in his cases.
“I don’t know if you can ask more of a judge than just to be respectful to lawyers and litigants alike and be prepared on the issues that are brought before you,” he said. “That is what I would try to do.”
Kahler grew up in Longview, but spent quite a bit of time on the Harbor before putting down roots here.
“Both my parents grew up in Aberdeen so we always spent a lot of time during the holidays up here visiting in the summer,” he said. His wife, Callie White, is a former reporter for The Daily World, and they have two children, a 4-year-old boy and an 18-month-old daughter. They live in Aberdeen and he is active in the community, serving as president of the 7th Street Theatre Association.
Kahler is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he was the articles editor for the Harvard Law Review and served as editor of the Harvard Law Record. He received his bachelor ‘s degree from the University of Puget Sound.
His appointment is effective January 2018.