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Spin Control

Posts tagged: municipal court

No more waiting to exhale: Court upholds city convictions

That big sigh you heard Thursday morning was from City Hall.

It was prompted by the state Supreme Court ruling that Spokane County district court judges had the authority to try cases for the city under an agreement between the city and county governments.

The decision may have saved the city from returning millions of dollars in fines and fees.A unanimous Supreme Court upheld two misdemeanor convictions from 2005 which an appeals court had voided over questions of the judge’s authority.

The Supreme Court reinstated drunk-driving convictions for Lawrence Rothwell and Henry Smith, ruling that District Court Judge Patricia Walker had jurisdiction even though she wasn’t elected solely by city voters.

GOP memo ponders Staab’s political leanings

The debate over Municipal Court Judge Tracy Staab’s residency isn’t going away.

A memo circulated with local GOP leaders indicates that Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, who is active in the party, has questioned the party’s decision to oppose Staab’s candidacy.

Party leaders formally opposed Staab’s attempt to retain her judgeship in the November election because she lives outside the city. Spokane Municipal Court judges rule only on cases from within city limits, but state law allows the judges to live outside the borders – as long as they live in the same county.

County GOP knocks Staab

Spokane Municipal Court races are non partisan, but the County Republican Party is weighing in on one of the races and criticizing Judge Tracy Staab.

The GOP’s problem with Staab is not judicial activism or any decision she’s made. Instead, it’s residence.

As in, Staab doesn’t live in the city. The county executive board concluded at a recent meeting that “a municipal court jduge, like any other elected office, should be required to live within the position’s respective jurisdiction.”

This issue came up when Mayor Mary Verner nominated Staab for the newly created seat on the bench. Councilman Bob Apple voted against her, saying he thought the judges should live in the city, but all the other councilmembers voted for her and she got the appointment.

Staab is the only appointed municipal judge to draw a challenger in the election. She faces Bryan Whitaker.

GOP didn’t say whether it’s endorsing Whitaker…just that it’s opposing Staab.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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