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Vance Peterson
Born 1953 (age 67–68)
Allegiance United States

 United States Army

Years of service 1975-2003
Rank US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel[1]

12th Special Forces Group

Security Force Assistance Team[2]
Battles/wars Vietnam War[3]
Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan[4]
Other work Lawyer[5]
District Court Judge[5]

Vance Peterson (born in 1953) is a retired United States Army lieutenant colonel and a district court judge in Spokane County, Washington.[6]


Peterson enlisted in the United States Army in 1975, and became a Special Forces operator in 1979.[6] Peterson was discharged from active duty in 1979, joined the Washington Army National Guard, and began studying law at Gonzaga University; he began practicing law in 1982.[6] Eventually he earned a Master's Degree from Webster University, and a J.D. from Gonzaga.[5] Since 1999, Peterson has served as a faculty member at Washington State Judicial College.[5] In 2003, he received a mandatory military retirement at the rank of lieutenant colonel after having served 28 years in the Army and the National Guard.[6]

In 1998, Peterson became a judge for Spokane District Court;[2] his efforts led to the establishment of a Veterans' court in Spokane County in 2010.[7] The court is funded with a $1 million grant awarded in 2011, which will pay for its operations for three years; only one of the offenders who have been adjudicated through the Veterans' Court has been convicted of additional criminal acts.[6]

In 2011, Peterson was recalled to active duty and served as an operations adviser to Afghan Police near Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan.[4] In Afghanistan Peterson mentored the Chief of police of Mazar-i- Sharif, helping the police transition away from being a paramilitary force to focusing on law enforcement; at the time he was the only active judge on a security force assistance team.[2] In 2012 Peterson returned to the United States, suffering from war-related ailments, and returned to his position as a judge.[4] In 2013, the Washington State Bar Association awarded Peterson its Local Hero Award.[8]


  1. "Congressional Record - Senate". U.S. Government Printing Office. 26 February 1996. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Chris Stein (30 May 2012). "Holding Court". pp. 13–15. Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  3. Jeff Humphrey (8 September 2011). "Vet Court Helps Former Servicemen Clean Up Their Acts". Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Jamie Tobias Neely (11 November 2012). "War’s reality hits home". Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "District Court, Spokane, WA - Department 1". Spokane County. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Thomas Clouse (21 April 2013). "Army boots off, Spokane judge returns to court". Gannett Government Media. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
    Thomas Clouse (21 April 2013). "Army boots off, Spokane judge returns to court". Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
    Thomas Clouse (21 April 2013). "Veteran District Court judge adjusts to civilian life". Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  7. Kevin Graman (20 September 2010). "Special courts in Wash. designed for veterans". Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  8. "Army boots off, Spokane judge returns to bench". 21 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 

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