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Published: Monday, July 18, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Aptonym: Judge Doug Fair, Edmonds Municipal Court judge

  • Judge Douglas Fair of the Edmonds Municipal Court says fairness has "always been who I am."

    Sarah Weiser / The Herald

    Judge Douglas Fair of the Edmonds Municipal Court says fairness has "always been who I am."

Q: Did your name direct your career path?
A: Not in the least. It was just a series of circumstances. Being a judge was the furthest thing from my mind.
I got out of law school and clerked for a judge for a while. Then the judge retired, and I got hired at the prosecutor's office and worked there for 10 years, and then for 10 years was an at-home dad.
Ellen (my wife) and I were both prosecutors together at the time and when we got married, she got pregnant, but she was running for judge. So we made a deal that if she wins, she would take the job and I would stay home; but if she lost, she would quit her job and she would stay home. So she won and I quit and I stayed home.
Then there was a judge emergency.
In 2005 the judge here was indicted on federal money-laundering charges.
I was called when I was chartering a big sailboat and was in the San Juans. It was one of the happiest days of my life, a combination of a dream vacation and that phone call, which was just a bolt out of the blue. I never expected that kind of thing to happen. It was crazy. I had no time to think about being a judge.
Q: Would you change your name if you could, and why or why not?
A: No, no reason to. I'm happy with it. It works in this particular profession, and it's always been who I am.
Q: If you could choose another career, what would it be?
A: First of all, I have always really loved what I do. If I couldn't be a lawyer, then I'd do something along the lines of teaching. As a kid, my fantasy career was being in the big leagues, but genetics and reality caught up with me on that one.
Q: How do you know when someone has picked up on the fact that your name is an aptonym?
A: Usually it's a sly smile and then they'll say, "Really?" And I'll say, "Really." Sometimes it's weird, like I'll be in the grocery store shopping and a guy will come up to me and tell me I treated some defendant fairly and that I've got a good name.
Q: How do people react to the combination of your name and job? Do they get it? Any funny stories as a result?
A: I play in a men's soccer league and there was a dispute over a call and the guy says, "We know we're right because we've got two lawyers on our team," and then a guy from my team said, "We know that we're right because we've got a judge."
I try and be very low-key about it because when people meet you and find out you are a judge, they put you in this box. I prefer anonymity. I mean I'm just in a job where I'm called on to make decisions that are important. I have to avoid what we call "black robe disease." I've got to keep it in perspective and really that goes a long way in anything you do.
What's an aptonym?
It's a name aptly suited to its owner. Read more stories about apt names at
If you happen to know an aptonym or are one yourself, send the name to
Story tags » EdmondsJudiciaryHuman Interest

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