Judge Michael Finkle joined the King County District Court in 2010, and is currently assigned to the East Division criminal court in Redmond, Washington. He holds a BBA from Loyola Marymount University (1978), a JD from UCLA School of Law (1981), where he served as Managing Editor of the UCLA Law Review for the 1980-1981 academic year, and an MBA from Seattle University’s Albers School of Business (1995).
Judge Finkle began his legal career in 1981 as a business lawyer at a medium size private law firm. In 1986 he entered public service as a Deputy City Attorney with the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. He was assigned to the Criminal and Special Operations Divisions. Judge Finkle’s duties included trying criminal cases, handling writs and appeals, and working on a large-scale civil unfair business practice lawsuit.
In 1990, Judge Finkle became an Assistant City Attorney in the Criminal Division of the Seattle City Attorney's Office, and was promoted to a supervisory role that same year. Over the next 20 years his broad range of duties included prosecuting high profile or complex criminal cases, supervising his office’s participation in Mental Health Court, and general criminal prosecution.
Throughout his career Judge Finkle has been deeply involved in working to improve the criminal justice system. He served on the statewide task force that recommended creating Mental Health Courts in this state. Soon after he participated in forming Seattle Municipal Mental Health Court, the fourth Mental Health Court in the nation; King County District Mental Health Court was the second. Judge Finkle also served on the task force that recommended creating a domestic violence unit within the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. He helped create that unit, and served as co-director for one year. He also served on a Domestic Fatality Review work group.
Judge Finkle has served on a number of work groups and task forces devoted to increasing access to justice while protecting public safety. In that regard he served on the State Bar’s Diversity Committee for two years, the state’s Designated Mental Health Professional Protocol Advisory Committee for two years, and the Sexual Offender Civil Commitment Subcommittee of the State Bar’s Committee on Public Defense for two years.
Judge Finkle has served as an Adjunct Professor or Law at Seattle University School of Law since 1998, teaching Trial Techniques and Law, Policy & Mental Health. From 1991-2000, Judge Finkle served as faculty and senior faculty for the Washington State Bar Association’s Trial Advocacy Program, and received a special recognition award from the State Bar in 1997.
Judge Finkle is highly respected for his legal expertise. He has published articles nationally and on a statewide level. His publications include articles in: Behavioral Sciences & the Law (2009), the Washington Health Law Manual (3rd ed. 2007) and the Seattle Journal for Social Justice (2006). Judge Finkle authored a portion of the misdemeanor chapter of the Washington Lawyers Practice Manual, published by the King County Bar Association (2002-2004), and authored and edited a portion of the Ethics Primer for Government Lawyers (1998).
Judge Finkle has also given over 80 solo and panel presentations locally, nationally and in Canada, on criminal justice and mental health law and policy topics. His audiences have included judges, prosecutors, public defenders, private criminal defense attorneys, law enforcement and other professionals.
Judge Finkle served as President (2000) of the Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys. In 2010 he received that organization’s highest honor, the Ernest H. Campbell Award, for sustained excellence in the practice of municipal law, and in 2003 was one of the recipients of its inaugural “Outstanding Service Award”.