Hon. William L. Downing (Ret.)

T: 206-622-5267
F: 206-292-9082

As a trial court judge for nearly 28 years, Hon. William L. Downing (Ret.) brings to JAMS expertise in many different areas of law. He has handled thousands of cases as a King County Superior Court Judge, and is widely respected by the legal community as being fair and genuinely neutral.

As a judge, he has concentrated almost exclusively on civil litigation of all types. He has established a reputation as being hard-working and even-handed but, beyond that, someone with keen insights into the perspectives of the litigants, the attorneys, and the jury’s likely view of a case. 

As an author of many high school mock trial exercises, Judge Downing’s goal has been to help young people appreciate the importance of examining any issue from all sides, a skill he employs everyday as a neutral.

In addition to his experience as a jurist and attorney, as Chair of the Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee, Judge Downing has mediated hundreds of disputes involving the balancing of interests involved in access to public records.

Judge Downing is also a sought-after lecturer and has spoken on topics such as Discovery, Electronic Evidence, Expert Witnesses, Technology & the Courts, and Trial Practice.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • King County Superior Court Trial Judge for nearly 28 years
  • Mediated hundreds of disputes involving the balancing of interests with regard to access to public records issues as Chair of the Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee for more than 16 years
  • Served as Chair of the Washington Pattern Jury Instructions Subcommittee on Medical Malpractice for more than 20 years
    • In this capacity and as Co-Chair of the full Committee, he worked to bring experts to consensus about often difficult legal propositions.
  • After handling a series of high profile mass murder cases as a top prosecutor in the 1980s, he joined the bench and shifted his focus almost entirely to civil litigation.

Representative Matters

  • Business/Commercial
    • Handled allegations of breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation, tortious interference, trade secret violations
    • Cases have dealt with sales of coffee shops, laundries, and restaurants; dissolution of medical practices, law firms and architects’ partnerships
    • Seafirst v. Pretzer, aff’d in unpublished opinion, 81 Wn. App. 1053 (1996). Case regarding a creditor’s duty of disclosure to a surety
  • Class Action
    • Including litigation involving a national retail sales force, delivery drivers, insurance claims processing and other contexts
  • Construction Defect
    • Has handled cases involving the building of condos, prisons, and a variety of other types of buildings
  • Employment
    • Cases have involved the tech industry, maritime industry, restaurants, retail sales, government, with defendants such as Worldcom, Brusco Tug & Barge, Denny’s, Bose, Costco, Gene Juarez, Seattle, and Snohomish County
    • Long v. Brusco Tug & Barge, aff’d 185 Wn. 2d 127 (2016)
      • Allegations of retaliation for engaging in protected activity regarding handicap discrimination
  • Family Law
    • A wide array of  issues involving characterization, tracing, valuation and division
    • In re: Marriage of Short, 125 Wn. 2d 865 (1995)
      • A landmark case dealing with Microsoft stock options
    • Andersen v. King County, 158 Wn. 2d 1 (2006)
      • A matter involving a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act
    • Larson v. Calhoun, 178 Wn. App. 133 (2013)
      • A case involving hundreds of millions of dollars in assets (including a major league baseball team) 
  • Personal Injury
    • Actions against government entities, nightclubs, private security companies, motorists
    • Rollins v. King County, aff’d 148 Wn. App. 370 (2009)
      • Landmark case involving injuries allegedly caused by the interplay between negligence of a defendant and intentional conduct of a third party
    • Montgomery v. Brewhaha, aff’d No. 73447-4-I (Wash. Ct. App. Aug. 8, 2016)
      • Liability of a nightclub owner for a gun death resulting from lax security screening
  • Professional Liability: Medical Malpractice
    • Cases involving obstetricians, oncologists, orthopedic surgeons, nurses and other health care providers
    • Rufer v. UWMC, 154 Wn. 2d 530 (2005)
      • Complex multiparty case involving allegations of product liability and medical negligence leading to an unnecessary hysterectomy
  • Professional Liability: Legal Malpractice
    • Cases involving allegations concerning bankruptcy, family law and criminal practices
  • Product Liability
    • Matters regarding asbestos, automotive passive restraint systems, medical devices, home heaters and other products

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Authored many high school mock trial cases on topics such as whistle-blowing, invasion of privacy, police use of force and corporate responsibility
  • William L. Dwyer Inn of Court
  • Washington Pattern Jury Instructions Committee, 1985–present
    • Co-chair, 2000-2016
  • YMCA High School Mock Trial
    • State Program Committee Chair, 1998-2006
    • King County District Convener, 1989-2016                           
  • Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee, Chair 1999-2016
  • Washington State Center for Court Research Advisory Board, 2006-2008
  • Distinguished Alumnus, University of Washington School of Law, 2008
  • WSBA President’s Initiative (“Foundations of Freedom”), 2006-2007
  • Robert F. Utter Award, YMCA Youth & Government, 2007
  • Outstanding Judge Award, King County Bar Association, 2006
  • Judge of the Year, American Board of Trial Advocates (Washington Chapter), 2006
  • YMCA Youth & Government Board of Directors, 1999-2006
  • Judge of the Year, Washington State Trial Lawyers Association, 2005
  • Jurist of the Year, Washington State Bar Association Family Law Section, 2005
  • Judge William Nevins Award for Distinguished Service in Public Legal Education, Washington Judges Foundation, 2001
  • Superior Court Judges’ Association Civil Law & Rules Committee
    • Chair, 1998-2000

Selected Publications

  • “When ‘the client’ is all the faceless people,” Seattle Times, May 30, 1989
  • “Professor favors judges who love literature,” Book Review, Trial News, May 1996
  • “Profile: Justice James M. Dolliver,” Bar Bulletin, Dec. 1998
  • “Press and courts working together benefits all,” Seattle Times, June 23, 2000
  • “Skip the LSAT & Bag the Bar,” Book Review, Jurist, December 2000
  •  “Why do Mock Trials? Good Question!,” National High School Mock Trial Newsletter, Fall 2004
  •  “New rule means courtroom cameras will get their day in court,” Seattle Times, December 30, 2004
  • “American Justice Soiled?,” Book Review, Bar Bulletin, June 2005
  • “March of the Plea Bargains,” Book Review, WSBA Bar News, March 2006
  •  “My Judicial Detachment,” The Marshall Project, January 5, 2015
  •  “Probing for Sense Beneath a Senseless Seattle Crime,” Book Review, NWLawyer, February 2016

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • “Ethical & Effective Advocacy,” Washington Attorney General Conference, Tumwater, November 16, 2016
  • “Law & Medicine,” WSAJ, Seattle, November 3, 2016
  • “Building Trial Skills,” NITA, Seattle, September 11, 2016
  • “Jury Selection,” WSAJ, Suncadia, June 16, 2016
  • “Lessons from the Bench,” KCBA YLD, Seattle, June 14, 2016
  • “Court-Media Relations,” AOC, January 29, 2016
  • “Poetry & the Law,” Port Townsend Salon Series, January 22, 2016
  • “Best Courtroom Practices,” WDTL, Seattle, December 3, 2015
  • “Deception in the Courts,” Seattle University, November 24, 2015
  • “Technology in the Courtroom,” American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, March 23, 2015

Background and Education

  • Judge, King County Superior Court, 1989-2017
  • (Senior) Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, King County, 1978-1989
  • Deckhand: American Commercial Barge Line (New Orleans, LA), Federal Barge Line (New Orleans, LA), F/V Patti Lu (Blaine, WA), 1973-1975
  • J.D., University of Washington School of Law, 1978
  • B.A., Vassar College, 1971

Disclaimer

This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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