DTW Conveners

Hon. Ronald Robie has served on the California Third District Court of Appeal since 2001 and as a DTW co-convener since 2004. Prior to his long service as an appellate and trial court judge, Robie enjoyed a distinguished career as a California water leader, starting as the first State Assembly committee consultant on water. He went on to serve as a member of the State Water Resources Control Board and director of the Department of Water Resources. Robie has taught and written about water law for much of his career as a jurist.

Hon. Debra J. Stephens joined the Conveners after hosting the 2015 Dividing the Waters conference in her hometown of Spokane. As a Washington State Supreme Court justice, she advocates for greater judicial understanding of science, as the Washington State Chair of ASTAR (Advanced Science and Technology Adjudication Resource Center), and co-chair of the National Advisory Board of the National Courts Science Institute. In recent years, she has participated in several critical water decisions, on topics from municipal water law (Lummi/2010) to instream flows (Swinomish/2013) and tribal water rights (Aquavella/2013). Before joining the Supreme Court, Stephens served on the Court of Appeals in Spokane, appointed in 2007. She previously practiced appellate law, and received both her undergraduate and law degrees from Gonzaga University.

Hon. Kate A. Appleby  was appointed to the Utah Court of Appeals in 2014 by Gov. Gary Herbert. Prior to her appointment, she was a Third District Court Judge for nearly eight years. Judge Toomey graduated from the University of Maryland in 1991, served as a judicial law clerk with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, then joined the Maryland Public Defender’s Office. She was in private practice in Utah from 1993 until 1996, when she joined the Utah State Bar’s Office of Professional Conduct. Since her days as managing editor of law review, Judge Toomey has served as editors of legal publications, including Voir Dire and the Utah Bar Journal. She was a member of the Board of District Court Judges and of the Grand Jury panel of judges. She was an advisory board member of the Family Justice Center and the Utah Foster Care Foundation. Judge Toomey currently serves as a member of the Judicial Council and the Utah Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure. She is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. You can find her profile in the February 2016 Network Note.

Hon. Eric Wildman serves as the presiding water judge for the state of Idaho Snake River Basin Adjudication (SRBA) court following his gubernatorial appointment in 2010. The court is dedicated to resolving and defining water rights ownership and entitlement claims. Previously, Wildman was in private practice before joining the SRBA as a staff attorney. The SRBA is the largest water adjudication in the history of the state of Idaho, covering all the water that begins in Yellowstone National Park, stretches west to the Oregon border and north to Clearwater County. After completion of the SNRB (2014), Wildman continues to handle a similar adjudication in the Coeur d’Alene Basin as well as other water resources cases.

Conveners Emeritus

Hon. Gregory Hobbs has served on the Colorado Supreme Court since 1996 and previously had a distinguished career as a water attorney and author. He continues to publish fiction and non-fiction (including water poetry), as well as the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s most popular guide, Citizen’s Guide to Colorado Water Law (4th Ed., Spring 2015). He also serves as vice president of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and is a member of the Colorado Authors League.

Hon. John Thorson co-founded the Program in 1993, when he was the special master for the Arizona general stream adjudications. (The other co-founder, retired Idaho Judge Dan Hurlbutt, recently retired as a DTW convener.) Thorson later served as assistant chief administrative law judge for the California Public Utilities Commission, and now serves as Federal Water Master for the U.S. District Court (E.D. Wash.). He has more than 25 years’ experience as a water attorney, writer, and consultant, and has published numerous books and articles.