Former judge plans to represent himself in child porn case

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WALLA WALLA — Although no longer licensed to practice law in this state, a former attorney who was a local District Court Judge in the 1990s will represent himself in the child pornography case against him.

John P. Junke Sr., 70, appeared Monday afternoon in Superior Court, where Judge Scott Wolfram heard of Junke’s decision, formally informed him of the charges, read him his constitutional rights and established standard conditions of his continued release.

As is usual with cases such as this, Junke will not be jailed pending resolution of the charges unless he violates any of the conditions.

They include requirements he continue living at 603 W. Alder St., not leave the county and not violate any criminal laws.

Junke will enter a plea later at his arraignment, but that has yet to be scheduled because a visiting judge needs to be appointed to preside.

At the end of Monday’s brief hearing, Wolfram recused himself from further involvement because he and Junke were in the same class at law school, moved to Walla Walla the same year, and used to socialize and attend the same church.

If Junke pleads not guilty at his arraignment, a trial will be set to begin within 90 days.

Accused of possessing Internet child pornography on personal computer devices late last summer, Junke was charged Dec. 26 with two counts of first-degree and four counts of second-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

The child pornography allegedly was discovered after Junke took his computer tower to an area shop for repair on Sept. 9.

A technician notified officials, Walla Walla police obtained a search warrant for Junke’s residence Sept. 13 and, with Junke’s cooperation, also located a laptop computer and an external storage hard drive.

Later examination of the confiscated devices revealed 35 images of child pornography, including two that each depict a preteen girl having sexual relations with a male, according to officials.

Junke reportedly admitted to police he knowingly possessed the images, explaining his long battle with viewing pornography had spiraled out of control.

Junke faces a standard-range prison term of about 6½ to 8½ years if convicted as charged. But were a judge to opt for a sentencing alternative, Junke could be ordered to serve up to a year in the County Jail and successfully complete sex-offender treatment.

He now is undergoing counseling relating to the alleged offenses, officials said.

An ordained minister as well as an attorney, Junke came to Walla Walla to join a law firm in 1979. He served as the elected Walla Walla County District Court judge from 1991 through 1994 when he was defeated for re-election. He then started a private practice.

In 2006, he voluntarily resigned from the Washington State Bar Association in lieu of disbarment after having an unethical, yearlong romantic relationship with a woman client starting in March 2004.

Junke had been director of ticket sales and service for the Walla Walla Sweets baseball team until he was fired from that job because of the child-pornography investigation.

He also was a substitute motor route delivery contractor for the Union-Bulletin for three days in December before the newspaper cut ties with him upon learning that criminal charges had been filed.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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