Judge Swanger is a third-generation resident of Clark County and graduate of Hudson's Bay High School. After attending Clark College, he graduated from Brigham Young University in 1976 with a BA in English. He received his law degree from the College of Law at Willamette University in 1979. He has worked at the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as well as in private practice. Judge Swanger has also served as a judge pro-tem in Superior Court and Battle Ground Municipal Court. In January, 1999, he was appointed as the full-time Clark County District Court Commissioner and was appointed Judge in July 2005.
Judge Swanger has established several programs to better serve the community and to improve the courts. He has also been active in community education, teaching law-related classes at three high schools and at Clark College. He has received awards for court improvement and public legal education at the national, state, and local levels.
In January, 2011, Governor Christine O. Gregoire appointed Judge Swanger to serve on the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. He is also on the faculty of the Washington State Judicial College, teaching a class on domestic violence. He currently presides over the Veterans Court. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Washington Judges Foundation.