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Opinion

Sun., Aug. 5, 2012

Don’t pick Owens, Gonzalez

Whether judges should be re-elected should depend on their opinions. In a recent Washington Supreme Court case, Justice Susan Owens wrote an opinion, which Justice Steven Gonzalez joined, holding the accepted search warrant exception in schools did not apply, invalidating a search by a school resource officer that found a weapon in a student’s backpack.

Justice Debra Stephens’ dissenting opinion is instructive: “I would hold that this ‘school search exception’ applies whether a search of a student on school grounds is carried out by a school resource officer (SRO) or another school official, so long as it is related to school policy and not merely a subterfuge for unrelated law enforcement activities. This is the view of the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions to have considered the issue. In rejecting it, the majority departs from persuasive precedent, the record on review, and common sense.” She also wrote, “It is well established that public schools have a responsibility to protect student safety and preserve an orderly educational environment.”

Our schools will be less safe as a result of the majority opinion, and those justices who agreed with it should be held responsible. Justices Owens and Gonzalez should not be re-elected.

Don Brockett

Former Spokane County prosecutor

Spokane



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