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Thursday, February 28, 2013 - Page updated at 05:30 p.m.

Obituary: Susan Agid, 71, retired Washington Court of Appeals judge

By Jennifer Sullivan
Seattle Times staff reporter

Whether it was a criminal case or a complicated land-use dispute, Judge Susan Agid relished the legal puzzles that came before her.

Intelligence, toughness and humor marked her career as a King County deputy prosecutor, a King County Superior Court judge and a member of the state Court of Appeals,

Judge Agid, 71, passed away at her home on Jan. 28 after a battle with lung cancer, according to her daughter.

“My mom loved the logic puzzle that was the law,” said Shana Agid, an assistant professor of Arts, Media and Design at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. “The combination of logic and empathy that had to go into making good interpretations of the law. That was her favorite part.”

Judge Agid was born in Chicago on Oct. 26, 1941, the eldest child of Jean and Randolph Bean. The family later moved to Charlottesville, Va., when Judge Agid was a child.

Growing up in the South shaped her mother’s perspective on equality and “developed her sense of justice,” her daughter said. Judge Agid’s father was threatened after he pushed to integrate local schools.

“She was involved in civil-rights work. Seeing what was happening made her dedicated to find ways to effect change,” Shana Agid said.

Judge Agid attended the University of Pennsylvania then moved to New York City, planning to be a teacher. But that changed when she found work as a legal secretary at the Center on Social Welfare Policy and Law, while pursuing a master’s degree at New York University.

Judge Agid enrolled at Columbia University and studied law.

In 1975, she published her first book “ Fair Employment Litigation Manual.” That same year she moved to Seattle and was hired by the firm Hillis, Phillips, Cairncross, Clark and Martin and specialized in land-use law, her daughter said.

Three years later, Judge Agid went to work for the civil division of King County Prosecutor’s Office where she specialized in land use and discrimination law. In 1979, she published her second book “Fair Employment Litigation: Proving and Defending a Title VII Case.”

She was hired at the firm Cohen, Keegan and Goeltz in 1983 and focused on land use, environmental, labor and discrimination law.

In 1986, Gov. Booth Gardner appointed Judge Agid to the King County Superior Court bench. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg recalls trying about a half-dozen cases before her.

“I remember as a young trial deputy that if you were assigned before Judge Agid it was like you won a raffle drawing,” Satterberg said. “She was smart, appropriately serious and she could be fun.”

In 1991, Gardner appointed Judge Agid to the Court of Appeals, Division I in Seattle, where she served until retiring in 2010.

Seattle attorney Rebecca Roe, who was a colleague at the prosecutor’s office, tried cases before her in King County and on the appellate level, recalls Judge Agid having an “incredible memory and attention to detail.”

“She also could hear a set of facts, process it and legally analyze it more completely than anybody I have ever known,” Roe said. “She had a style both legally and personally that was direct. What she said was what you got.”

Between 2010 and her death last month, Judge Agid spent her free time with Bob Johns, her husband of 33 years.

Judge Avid loved to garden, read, cook and spend time with her two dogs. She also enjoyed the time she spent with her husband at the couple’s second home on Whidbey Island.

But after being diagnosed with lung cancer last year, Judge Agid and her husband spent more time in their Leschi home.

Judge Agid is survived by her husband and her daughter. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that all donations go to the Seattle Humane Society or the Virginia Mason Foundation.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.

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