David Ruzumna wants to be the next “mensch on the bench.”
“There isn’t an area of law that doesn’t genuinely interest me,” he says. Somewhat sheepishly, he confesses that even in his spare time he enjoys listening to oral arguments and reading slip opinions.
Ruzumna is running for King County superior court judge, position 42, currently held by Judge Christopher Washington. He is running against Washington, and candidates Sue Parisien and Marianne Jones.
Ruzumna says he’s handled virtually every type of case, which sets him apart from his colleagues.
“Most colleagues that I have practice in one area,” he says. “There’s something to be said about people who have developed specific niches in the law,” but he believes his experience trying cases across the board gives him a leg up.
Furthermore, he says, “I pride myself on a particular type of professionalism.”
He believes he has the temperament and demeanor for the job, and that he’ll be able to fully understand the cases put before him. “If the judge isn’t prepared or doesn’t fully understand what’s been put before him or her, [that] can be deflating,” he says. “I know in my heart there would be no litigant who would walk out of court” wondering if he understood the case accurately.
Ruzumna’s experience includes pro bono and low-fee counsel and legal help to artists, animal rescue organizations, and people living with HIV/AIDS.
The thing about artists, he says, is “they’re completely broke.” Ruzumna steps in to provide legal services, like divorce proceedings, and helps them work through the red tape around setting up non-profit entities. The same goes for animal rescue groups, which are typically run by people motivated by passion, and less legal sense.
“Getting 501(c)3 status through the IRS can be extensive,” says Ruzumna. It requires a linear thinking process, which is where he comes in.
Ruzumna is also a panel member of the King County Bar Association Volunteer Assistance for Persons with AIDS/HIV, through which he would help gay and lesbian couples work out such issues as wills and health-care directives created before the changes introduced by domestic partnerships. He’s also an advocate for foster children, and kids coming out of the foster care system who need to get on their feet.
Despite his extensive pro bono and civil work, “I am a trial attorney,” Ruzumna says. “That is what I do.”
The Los Angeles native has lived in Seattle since 1993, and resides in Ballard with his wife and two kids. They are members of Temple Beth Am, where his daughter is preparing to become a Bat Mitzvah.
Ruzumna marvels at the number of Jews he encounters in the legal world.
“I think one of the reasons there is such a large representation of Jews in the legal community is because of the Jewish tradition of embracing the learned profession,” he says. Jews “always have a quest for knowledge.”