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By Jess Macinko
News Editor 

New judge says thank you to Bickleton


Jess Macinko

A JUDGE FROM BICKLETON: Bickleton's own Kevin Naught speaks during his swearing-in ceremony Friday in Yakima.

Thanks in part to a small town in eastern Klickitat County, Yakima County has a new superior court judge. Kevin Naught, a Bickleton native, was ceremonially sworn in as the court's newest member on Friday, March 31.

The son of Bickleton residents Stephen and Judy, Naught has fond memories of his rural upbringing, helping out on the family's wheat farm and showing pigs at the Goldendale Fair.

After graduating from Bickleton High School in 1989, Naught went on to Washington State University. Toward the end of his time there, he began to consider a career in law. He was accepted to Gonzaga School of Law and graduated in 1996.

Naught's family history-his father was wounded in Vietnam; his grandfather was a POW in WWII-instilled "a huge admiration and respect for the military." While wrapping up law school, he felt a desire to see the world. The Army was willing to accommodate that urge.

From 1997 to 2000, Naught served as a Judge Advocate General (JAG). He was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina and stationed in Ray Barracks near Friedberg, Germany-the same place Elvis Presley was stationed during his service, Naught notes.

But after three years, he'd had his fill of life overseas. "I started getting homesick, and I wanted to work my way back to Washington," Naught says. He was first hired at a practice in Selah, then joined the Yakima firm of Finney, Falk and Lawrence-Berrey.

In 2014, Naught became a superior court commissioner, serving primary in the family law docket, where he heard divorce, child custody, child support and spousal maintenance cases. "I would hear all those cases until they got to trial," Naught says.

The experience came in handy. Following the retirement of Judge Susan Hahn last year, Gov. Inslee appointed Naught her successor on February 13.

"Kevin's impressive public service background, his years serving as a Yakima County Superior Court Commissioner, and his obvious passion for serving his community make him the perfect choice to serve Yakima County," Inslee said. "I am confident that he'll make an excellent judge."

The appointment was something Naught had hoped for, but didn't take for granted. "I'd always hoped there would be an opportunity for me to take that next step," he says. "[For that to open up] has been humbling and gratifying all at the same time."

Naught was officially sworn in on Valentine's Day of this year, and has been presiding over trials since then. For him, the best part of the job is also the most challenging.

"When you have two attorneys who are so prepared, who are making some of the best arguments and who are very zealous advocates for your clients-that's the best part. To really be pushed to think, to wrap my arms around the issues. There's nothing better than when you have two attorneys who are really going to the mat for their clients. But the flip side is it makes it really hard [to make a ruling], because they're both doing such a good job."

On Friday, Judge David Elofson presided over the ceremonial swearing-in. Elofson commended the appointment, citing Naught's wide ranging legal experience. "He brings a wealth of knowledge few people have," Elofson said.

During the ceremony, Naught addressed his fellow judges and attorneys. "I am very impressed and grateful and humble that I get to work with you," Naught said. "I look forward to working with all of you in bringing justice to Yakima County."

In attendance were Naught's parents, his wife, Kathy, and his sons, Keith, Charlie and Ian. Afterwards, Naught expressed gratitude for his hometown.

"I'm just so appreciative of the life and community I had there in eastern Klickitat County," Naught said. "I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for growing up in a small town. I had my mom and dad, but then I had probably fifty moms and dads all looking out for me, taking care of me, encouraging me. That's one of the great things growing up in Klickitat County and especially in Bickleton-that sense of community. I'm so thankful for the support I've always had."


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