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Municipal Court candidate who lost election bid after DUI charge back at work as assistant city prosecutor

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 13, 2017, 3:24 p.m.

FILE – Adam Papini, then a candidate for Spokane Municipal Court judge, looks at the crowd before making statements at a Spokane Bar Association event at the Spokane Club on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE – Adam Papini, then a candidate for Spokane Municipal Court judge, looks at the crowd before making statements at a Spokane Bar Association event at the Spokane Club on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

It’s been five months since Municipal Court judicial candidate Adam Papini worked as a lawyer. That changed Monday.

For the first time since being charged in June with driving under the influence in Cheney, Papini is returning to the city prosecutor’s office, albeit in a different capacity. The former community court leader will work strictly on domestic violence cases, city officials said.

“It’s just the way things played out,” said Brian Coddington, Spokane’s communication director, on the timing of the move. “The case is continuing to work it’s way through the judicial system.”

Following his arrest, Papini was on paid administrative leave for a few weeks before he transitioned into another position in City Hall processing and reviewing public record’s requests.

His case, meanwhile, is in the discovery process while his lawyer waits for the Cheney Police Department to send over all of the evidence they have against him. According to police, Papini was driving with a blood-alcohol level above 0.161 with his 10-year-old son in the backseat.

Until that day comes, Papini said he’s not sure when it could go to trial or even if he will.

“It’s all about whether they can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said during an interview Sunday. “Having tried as many cases as I have, it’s a difficult burden.”

Despite coming off of a sizable defeat to incumbent Tracy Staab in Spokane’s Municipal Court judicial race, Papini said he was more emboldened than anything by the results. Rather than look at it as a negative – losing 73-percent of the vote – he’s focusing on what he did get: 26-percent of city voters, or 8,500 people.

“In the position I was in, to get the number of votes that I got, was quite significant having not campaigned or done anything significant to advance my position,” he said. “I think it’s pretty informative the number of people who did vote for me and did support me.”

Papini’s campaign was silent for four months following his arrest. The only campaign event he attended was a luncheon for judicial candidates hosted by the Spokane County Bar Association in early October.

Looking back, the prosecutor said he didn’t regret the decision to remove himself from the public eye. He said, if anything, it helped him reflect and use his experience navigating the Cheney court system as a platform to push for what he called “better access to justice” – something he promised he’d work toward if elected.

Papini doesn’t rule out another run for a Municipal Court judge position four years down the line.

“I’ll have to re-evaluate after my case,” he said. “But because of the number of people who did vote for me, it is reasonable to consider running in the future.”