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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Spokane Municipal Court

Bar rates Muni Court candidates

The Spokane County Bar Association released its rating for the contested Spokane Municipal Court race.

Lawyers polled consider appointed Judge Tracy Staab well-qualified, and attorney Brian Whitaker qualified.

It should be noted, however, that the two candidates were separated by average scores of about of less than a half-point on the Bar’s 4 point scale for qualities such as integrity, ability, temperament, experience and suitabiliy.

And neither could be considered exceptiionally well known. They polled 184 lawyers, and only 103 were able to respond on Staab, and 113 on Whitaker.

To see copies of the candidates’ bios and answers to the bar questionnaire, click here.

Check your ticket, check the date

Folks at the recently established Spokane Municipal Court report a slight problem with defendants not showing up for their preliminary hearing, and then saying they didn’t know when it was scheduled.

The thing is, the date is scheduled when the police officer writes out the citation and hands it to someone for an alleged misdemeanor infraction. It’s even labelled pretty plainly as APPEARANCE DATE. Not much chance for having this one overturned by the Appeals Court for lack of clarity.

This is a switch from the old way of doing things with County District Court, in which the officer would hand the citation without a date, leaving the pre-printed message of “Within 15 days” in the appearance date slot and an admonition to call the court to set up a date. The number was on the back.

City cops, who now fill in a court date in an effort to speed up the process, have been instructed to change the routine and tell the citation recipient that the date is right there on the ticket. They have to fill in the box right below it, so chances are, they’re being pretty good about it.

Still, people miss their scheduled court dates, which can result in a bench warrant being issued, or show up later and say they didn’t know they had a date.

Court Administrator Cindy Marshall said they aren’t sure how many of the defendants are offering the Muni Court version of “the dog ate my homework” excuse. It’s not a large number saying they didn’t know, but since the court is just starting up with new procedures, they thought mentioning it would be a good idea.

So here’s a Spin Control word to the wise: If you get a citation in the city, read it. Read the whole thing. Then put your appearance date on your wall calendar, Day Planner, PDA and a Post-it Note on your computer monitor.

And go.

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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.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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