Judge Wayne Stewart

Rating: Pretty good.

Wayne Stewart is the only judge who ever reversed his own decision in one of my cases in response to a "motion to reconsider" that I filed. A "motion to reconsider" is a legal paper that the losing party files in a court case, asking the judge to change their mind. It's a different process from filing an "appeal"; the advantage over filing an appeal is that filing a motion to reconsider doesn't cost any money, but the disadvantage is that since you're asking the same judge to change their mind, it almost never works.

But in my case heard by Wayne Stewart, it did. I had brought Small Claims case Y3-33894 for $1,500 against a spammer named Robert Collina, who ran backgroundchecksusa.com in New Jersey. Wayne Stewart, acting as judge pro tem (i.e. temporarily filling in for one day), heard the case on December 15, 2003 and ruled that I didn't have jurisdiction to sue an out-of-state spammer in Washington.

I filed a motion to reconsider, arguing that the court had not actually cited any law used as the basis for not allowing me to sue an out-of-state spammer, so there were no grounds for dismissing the case. While judges are not even required to grant you an in-person hearing for a motion to reconsider (often you just get a one-line letter in the mail saying "motion denied"), Judge Stewart came in apparently for the hearing on March 16, 2003, heard the motion, grilled me with a couple of questions, and then reversed his original decision, granting me a $500 judgment against Robert Collina. (He even came in on his day off, apparently, since the hearing was at 9 AM and after the hearing he left at the same time I did.) It was the only time I'd ever heard of a judge reversing their decision in response to an argument made by a member of the public, and the clerk said it was the first time he'd ever seen it happen too -- and he'd been working there for 20 years. (Judge Yeatts and Judge Lasalata had both ruled that I could not sue out-of-state spammers in Small Claims court, but would not answer when I asked if there was any written law that stated that.)

While it might seem that at first he just gets points because he switched his ruling and ruled in my favor, the other judges on this site who have gotten positive write-ups (John O'Brien, Linda Thompson and Park Eng) all ruled against me in a majority of my cases that they heard.