Judge Michael Finkle spent the first four years of his legal career as a business lawyer in a medium size firm. He handled mostly business transactions, with some civil litigation. He entered public service in 1986, as a Deputy City Attorney in the Criminal and Special Operations Divisions of LA City Attorney's Office. His duties included trying criminal cases, handling writs and appeals, and working on a large-scale civil unfair business practice matter
In 1990, Judge Finkle became an Assistant City Attorney Supervisor in the Criminal Division of the Seattle City Attorney's Office. His duties included supervising high profile or complex criminal prosecution matters, supervising Mental Health Court prosecutions, working on local, regional and statewide policy matters, and other special projects. In 1999 he served on the work group that created Seattle Municipal Court's Mental Health Court, one of the first such courts in the county.
The King County Council unanimously appointed Judge Finkle to the King County District Court bench in February, 2010, and he won election to retain his position later that year. In 2013 the state legislature requested that the superior, district and municipal courts form a work group to examine laws governing therapeutic court practices in Washington. Judge Finkle was appointed to co-chair that work group. He also currently co-chairs the Therapeutic Courts Committee for the District and Municipal Court Judges Association. In 2012, Judge Finkle chaired the work group that created King County District Court's Regional Veterans Court, and also served on a national advisory panel examining constitutional issues relating to mental health courts.
Judge Finkle has been an Adjunct Faculty member with Seattle University School of Law since 1998. He is a faculty member for both the National Judicial College and the Washington State Judicial College. Judge Finkle taught Trial Advocacy for the State Bar from 1991-2000, and received a special recognition award from the Bar in 1997. He is a Past President (2000) and former Board Member of the Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys (WSAMA). In 2010 he received WSAMA's Ernest H. Campbell Award for sustained excellence in the practice of municipal law, and in 2003 he received its inaugural "Outstanding Service Award."
Judge Finkle has numerous publications to his name. In 2011 he co-authored an article regarding therapeutic courts that was published nationally in the ABA Judges Journal. In 2009 he served as lead author on an article published nationally in Behavioral Sciences and the Law, relating to criminal competency to stand trial. In 2007 Judge Finkle published a chapter on criminal commitment based on mental illness in the Washington Health Law Manual (3rd ed.). In 2006 he published an article on competency to stand trial in the Seattle Journal of Social Justice. Judge Finkle served as the Chief Author of the Limited Jurisdiction chapter of Washington Lawyers Practice Manual, published by King County Bar Association (2002-2004 and 2011-2012), and served as an editor and contributing author to the Ethics Primer for Government Lawyers, published in 1998 and revised in 2010 by WSAMA.
- BBA, Loyola Marymount University, 1978; received award for general excellence in school of business
- JD, UCLA School of Law, 1981; Managing Editor (Volume 28) and Staff Member (Volume 27) of UCLA Law Review.
- MBA, Seattle University, 1995
- Law, Policy & Mental Health
- Trial Techniques