Judge Pro Tem - banging gavel

What Is A Commissioner or Judge Pro Tem?

First a brief explanation – Judges are elected positions, while Court Commissioners are hired by the Judges to taken on some limited judicial functions (like hearing Family Law Motions) to free the Judges up for trial work.

A Judge or Court Commissioner Pro-Tempore is more commonly referred to as a “Pro Tem”.

Pro Tems are people who fill in for Judges or Court Commissioners when the regular Judge or Court Commissioner is out, such as when they are on vacation or sick.

A Judge Pro Tem may be a Judge from another court, a retired Judge, or a practicing attorney. For instance, Mimi Buescher of our office has had the honor of acting as a Judge Pro-Tempore in the Island County courts.

However, if the Judge Pro-Tempore is not a current or retired Judge (i.e. is a regular practicing attorney), the parties must agree to use the Pro-Tem, meaning they have the right to NOT have the Pro Tem hear their case.

Because Court Commissioners are not elected, there is not the same right to refuse to have your case heard by a Court Commissioner Pro Tem if they are a practicing attorney.

Instead, there is a right to have decisions made by any Court Commissioner (Pro Tem or not) reviewed by a sitting judge. This is done through a Motion for Revision.