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Judge Helen L. Halpert
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Judge Helen L. Halpert (Ret.)

Latest Insights
Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
American Indian Tribal Law
Business Commercial
Employment Law
Estate Probate Trusts
Family Law
Higher Education & Title IX
Personal Injury
Real Property
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Judge Helen L. Halpert (Ret.) joined JAMS in 2018 after nearly 30 years of distinguished service to the judiciary in King County, including 19 years on the King County (Washington) Superior Court. Judge Halpert’s prior experience includes serving as the Assistant Dean at the University of Washington School of Law and as a public defender, where she headed the appellate unit.

Judge Halpert has been described as indispensable when it comes to her service to the Seattle legal community. She has been recognized as Judge of the Year by both the King County Bar Association and the King County Chapter of Washington Women Lawyers. Judge Halpert serves as a member of the Washington Pattern Jury Instruction Committee and was appointed co-chair of that committee in 2012. She resigned as chair at the time she retired from the bench but still remains an active member. 

She is known for her extraordinary kindness and ability to ensure that individuals feel understood when presenting their cases. She cuts through the nonsense and has a good sense of practicality. Judge Halpert brings intellectual rigor, integrity and compassion to each case and treats both sides with dignity and respect. Her dedication to settling cases, combined with her judicial wisdom and strategic planning, allows her to successfully bring parties to resolution.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Served as a judge for almost 30 years, in all four divisions of the King County Superior Court and at both the court of limited jurisdiction and superior court levels
  • Conducted settlement conferences throughout her judicial career
  • Administrative office for the Courts and Settlement Judge Panel for Child Welfare Cases
  • Performed substantial committee work while a judge to coordinate effective responses to emerging issues in the legal community
  • Trained as Title IX external adjudicator for colleges in sexual assault and harassment cases 

Representative Matters

  • Business Commercial
      • Mediated to settlement real estate sales agreement case
      • Arbitrated matter involving purchase of a used car
      • Settled at mediation dispute over payments under a Software Licensing Agreement
      • Four week-bench trial involving corporate fraud and breach of fiduciary duty; entered verdict awarding several million dollars
      • Expeditors International of Washington v. Expeditors of Japan, 139 Wn. App 1070 (2007) (unpublished); described by Court of Appeals as addressing a complex corporate transaction
      • Part of a triparte arbitration panel involving attorney malpractice allegations, where the underlying issue was an intellectual property dispute. 
  • Employment Law
      • Mediated employment cases involving disability, gender discrimination, failure to accommodate religious practices, retaliation, bonus pay and wrongful termination
      • Hirata v. Evergreen State Limited Partnership No. 5, 124 Wn. App 632 (2004); sex discrimination and harassment; one of first cases addressing “offset” payments for federal income tax consequences of award, pursuant to Blaney v. International Association of Machinists
      • Bally v. Ocean Transportation Services, 136 Wn. App 1052 (2007) (unpublished); complicated wage and hour issues
  • Estate Probate Trusts
      • Arbitration regarding dispute between co-trustees of trust
      • Settled dispute involving termination of guardianship
  • Family Law
      • Arbitrated and mediated cases involving parenting, financial issues, relocation, domestic violence allegations, disability, family-owned business
      • Arbitrated issue regarding parenting coordinator and has established substantial expertise regarding use of parenting coordinators 
      • Arbitrated case involving valuation of a start-up
      • Arbitrated several case involving private school education
      • Conducted numerous settlement conferences regarding parental rights.
      • In re Marriage of Bernard, 165 Wn. 2d 895 (2007); enforceability of prenuptial agreement
      • In re Marriage of Gunn-Bohm v. Bohm, 158  Wn. App 1026 (2010) (unpublished); unusually complex pension valuation issues
      • In re Marriage of Vandal (unpublished, 199 Wn. App 1034 (2017)) (unpublished); complex characterization issue of small, personal services corporation
      • Substantial experience with domestic violence issues; has tried many cases in the civil and criminal arenas
      • Both a contributor to and the primary substantive editor of the first three editions of the Domestic Violence Manual for Judges
      • Handled contested adoptions, both at trial and as a settlement conference judge 
  • Insurance
      • Ledcor Industries v. Mutual of Enumclaw, 150 Wn. App 1(2009); insurance coverage issues 
      • Mutual of Enuclaw v. Archer, 122 wn. App 1073 (unpublished, 2004)
      • Post-Confirmation Committee of In re Pierce County Housing Authority v. Pierce County, 188 Wn. App 1039 (unpublished, 2015) 
  • Personal Injury Torts
      • Handled summary judgments for Asbestos litigation
      • Auto torts, including bicycle accidents 
      • Various issues under the Jones Act
      • Served as chair Current chair of Washington Pattern Jury Instruction Chapters on Damages and Owners and Occupiers of Land
  • Public Interest
      • Jane and John Does and Seattle Pacific University v. King County, 192 Wn. App 10 (2015); public disclosure case regarding access to video of the Seattle Pacific shooting
      • Branson v. Port of Seattle, 152 Wn. 2d 862 (2004); authority of Port of Seattle to impose a gross receipt tax on car rental companies
      • In re Ballot Title Appeal of City of Seattle Initiatives 107-110, 183 Wn. App 379 (2014)
      • Litigated case addressing disparate impact outside the context of Title VII and Title IX, challenging the legislative amendments switching the “per se” standard for driving while intoxicated from blood to breath
  • Real Estate and Landlord Tenant
      • Landowner liability (trial and summary judgments of a number of cases and as former chair and current member of WPI Subcommittee authoring instructions in this area)
      • A variety of adverse possession and boundary dispute issues, including Shaw v. Merritt, 124 Wn. App 1040 (unpublished, 2004); summary judgment whether easement by necessity, implication or public use had been established
      • Housing discrimination; whether the inclusion of holders of Section 8 housing vouchers as members of a protected class by the Seattle Municipal code exceeded police powers under WA Const. Article I, Section 11 

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Member of the Board of Directors of Family Law CASA, 2018-2023
  • Panel Member, Criminal Justice Training Commission, Decertification Hearings (2023)
  • Member of the Quality Assurance Board for Hobson Place, Downtown Emergency Service Center (2021-present)
  • Jurist in Residence-Dependency and Termination-for Administrative Office of the Courts (judicial training position) (2021-present)
  • Member King County Chapter of Washington Women Lawyers—member Judicial Evaluation Committee 
  • Member AFCC (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts) 

Memberships and Professional Activities
  • Washington State Bar Association (active)
  • California State Bar Association (inactive)
  • Family Law CASA-Board of Directors 
  • Washington Pattern Jury Instruction Committee, 1996–present
    • Co-Chair, 2013-2018
  • Legislative Sentencing Reform Task Force, 2014
  • Becca Task Force, 2010–present
    • Co-Chair, 2016
  • Judicial Advisory Committee, Center for Children and Youth Justice, 2010–present
  • New Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act Training, Washington State Bar Association, October 2023

Selected Awards

  • Judge of the Year, King County Bar Association, 2001
  • Judge of the Year, Washington Women Lawyers, King County Chapter, 2001
  • Judge of the Year, Washington Women Lawyers, King County Chapter, 2018

Selected Publications
  • Editor and Author, Domestic Violence Manual for Judges, AOC, 1997, 2001, 2006 
  • "Prenuptial Agreements in Washington: a Primer," Bar Bulletin, King County Bar Association, August 2021 
  • "Committed Intimate Relationships: They're Not Just for Family Law Practitioners Anymore," Bar Bulletin, King County Bar Association, November 2019

King County Court Subcommittee Memberships

  • National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 2015–2018
  • Superior Court Judges Association Family and Juvenile Law Committee, 2011–2018
  • Superior Court Judges Association Criminal Law and Rules Committee, 2001–2004 and 2013–2014

Background and Education

  • Judge, King County Superior Court, 1999–2018
    • Assistant Presiding Judge, 2008–2010
    • Chief Criminal Judge, 2007
    • Chief Judge Juvenile Court, 2012–2013
    • Lead Dependency Judge, 2015–2018                             
  • Judge, Seattle Municipal Court, 1989–1999
    • Presiding Judge, 1997–1999
  • Attorney, The Defender Association, 1985–1989
  • Assistant Dean, University of Washington School of Law, 1980–1985
  • Judicial Clerk, Washington Court of Appeals, Division II, 1977–1980
  • J.D., University of California Davis School of Law, 1977
  • A.B., Occidental College, 1974


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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