KENNEWICK, Wash. - He is putting away the gavel and hanging up his robes. The honorable Judge Craig Matheson is retiring after more than 30 years of service in the local justice system.
Craig Matheson spent 26 years as a judge and 11 years as a lawyer in the Tri-Cities. He was the longest serving judge in Benton-Franklin Superior Court, but that was not his goal when he started his career in 1976.
"As a matter of fact, this is interesting, I wasn't going to practice law. I was going to go into my father's business," Matheson said.
If things had turned out differently, Matheson would have been selling houses and insurance for the last 30 years.
"I had interned over the summer at the prosecutor's office. They called me up and offered me a job and I said, well, I'd better give it a try and I just never turned back," he said.
Benton County's Chief Deputy Prosecutor has worked with Matheson from the beginning. Terry Bloor says Matheson's accomplishments are many and he will be missed in the court house.
Bloor praised one of Matheson's most recent contributions, a case load management system that is making things quicker and more efficient in the courtroom.
"That's been very successful. You look at the numbers and our dockets used to run up to 200 cases per docket. Now, for example, today, we're doing to 80," Bloor said.
Matheson's last day as a superior court judge was April 30th but he says he is not quite done yet.
"I'm going to take a year and just kind of rest up and then probably go back to work," Matheson said.
Judge Matheson is also a private pilot and says he plans to spend time traveling all over the country this summer.
One of his trips will be to California where he plans to take a mediation class. He is not sure if he will come back to the work force as a lawyer or a mediator.