Local Judge is WSU TC Distinguished Alumnus

<p>Judge Joe Burrowes</p>

Judge Joe Burrowes

Judge Joe Burrowes was honored during the Washington State University Tri-Cities Commencement ceremony today.

He had been fooled into attending the graduation ceremony by his wife, Sue, and his friend, George Garlick.

Burrowes is the Presiding Judge for Benton County District Court.

A Richland High School graduate, Burrowes grew up in a military family and actually attended 36 different schools.

“His family left the Tri-Cities when Joe was a high school senior, and he made the decision to stay here and make this community his home,” said James R. Pratt, interim chancellor of WSU Tri-Cities, said as he announced the award to about 2,000 people in the Toyota Center.

For 15 years, Burrowes worked in law enforcement, including for the Hanford Patrol, and raised a family.

During that time, he patiently and persistently attended Columbia Basin College to earn an associate’s degree in criminal justice in 1987 and then transferred to WSU Tri-Cities, where he completed a bachelor’s of arts in social science in 1994.

“Four years out of WSU Tri-Cities, and at the tender age of 36, Joe stepped off the edge,” Pratt said.

Burrowes moved to Spokane to pursue a law degree at the Gonzaga School of Law.

People thought he was crazy, but Burrowes followed his passion.

In 2001, he earned his Juris Doctorate from Gonzaga and was admitted to the Washington State Bar.

He has given countless hours to the law, and in 2007 became District Court Commissioner, then District Court judge in 2009.

In 2010, Burrowes was re-elected and now serves as the presiding judge.

He is a regular volunteer, a guest speaker and he coordinates the annual YMCA High School Mock Trial Competition held at the Justice Center.

A total of 417 students graduated this academic year from WSU Tri-Cities, with about 300 participating in the ceremony today.

The keynote speaker was Wayne Martin, Ph.D., Interim Chief Operating Officer for the National Security Directorate at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory — and the 2011 WSU Tri-Cities Distinguished Alumnus.

Burrowes joins fellow WSU Tri-Cities Distinguished Alumnus of the Year recipients:

• Nancy Kerr, 2012

• Wayne Martin, 2011

• Albert Torres, 2009

• Sandra J. Matheson, 2008