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Olympia mayor names new Municipal Court Judge to fill role through 2025

Steve Bloom/Olympian file photo, 2017

A Thurston County Superior Court Commissioner has been appointed as the City of Olympia’s new Municipal Court Judge.

Pamella Nogueira will fill the role through the end of 2025, the city announced in a Wednesday news release. She replaces Scott Ahlf who resigned on July 31 with 2-1/2 years left on his elected term. Ahlf has taken on a new role as court services director for the Washington state Administrative Office of Courts.

“I am honored and humbled to serve the City of Olympia as its next Municipal Court judge,” Nogueira said. “I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to working with such a stellar court staff. I think together we can make a big difference and help a lot of people.”

State law allows the city mayor to appoint a judge to fill a vacancy through the remainder of an unexpired term. Mayor Cheryl Selby led a screening panel and interviewed finalists in August.

“I’m confident Ms. Nogueira will be an outstanding jurist and a great leader for our amazing team in court services and probation department,” Selby said.

Though many capable applicants applied, Selby said Nogueira rose above them with her experience. As a Thurston County Court Commissioner, Nogueira presided over family and juvenile matters as well as Involuntary Treatment Act court, according to Superior Court.

Nogueira also previously served a judge pro tem for the City of Olympia Municipal Court and other municipal courts. Additionally, Selby said she favored Nogueira’s experience as a public defender, her commitment to restorative justice and her community involvement.

Selby said Nogueira’s background makes her a good fit to lead the expansion of the city’s Community Court, a program that connects people with helpful local services rather than burdening them with traditional punishment.

Nogueira first came to the United States from Brazil as a 15-year-old exchange student. She earned her Juris Doctor at the University of Washington School of Law. She previously worked as a private practice attorney and a public defender in addition to her more recent judicial positions.

The Olympia Municipal Court Judge is authorized by state law to preside over specific types of cases, according to its website. They include traffic and non-traffic infractions, criminal misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors and protection orders for victims of domestic violence.

The city filed 2,893 cases in Municipal Court in 2022, according to the news release.

The judge directs operations for the court and probation services as well as the city’s Community Court, the release says. They act independently of the executive and legislative branches of city government when carrying out court duties.