Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Supremes to hear 2008 election case

OLYMPIA — Washington politicos may be looking toward the 2016 gubernatorial race, but the state Supreme Court will be looking backwards today to the 2008 race.

The case in which a couple of former justices challenged the way the Building Industry Association of Washington helped finance the campaign of GOP candidate Dino Rossi finally made its way through the system to the Supremes.  

That election was the rematch of Rossi and Gov. Christine Gregoire, which she won by a more convincing margin than the 2004 contest.

But in the midst of the 2008 campaign, former Justices Faith Ireland and Robert Utter contended the BIAW surpassed state spending limits because it coordinated too closely with Rossi to be considered an independent campaign. Notable about the lawsuit was the court order for Rossi go submit to a deposition on his involvement with BIAW just eight days before the election.

After the election, the lawsuit continued through the court system, with the appeals court most recently siding with BIAW. 

Yu sworn in as Supreme Court justice

OLYMPIA —  With people who inspired her at her side and others she hoped to inspire in the audience, Mary Yu was sworn in this afternoon to a state Supreme Court a seat she's likely have for at least two years despite facing election this fall.

No one filed to run against her last week, so barring an unprecedented write-in campaign in November, Yu, who is Gov. Jay Inslee's first appointment to the high court, will finish out the term of Justice Jim Johnson who retired last month. She said she was “perplexed and surprised” by the lack of opposition, but attributed it more to the short time potential challengers had to plan a campaign than to her strengths as a candidate.

“I'm relieved,” she said in a brief meeting with reporters after the ceremony. “I'm delighted and happy.”

She'll have to run for a full term in 2016, giving potential challengers both time to plan a campaign and a record of her decisions to use as ammunition.

Yu is the high court's first Asian, Latina and lesbian justice and as she took the oath of office, she had at her side three women who had been inspirations to her for their work for equal rights for the state's Asian, Latino and gay communities. In the audience were teens, many of them minorities, who had just attended a symposium on the juvenile justice system Yu had helped organize as the co-chairwoman of the Minority and Justice Commission. In the lobby was a draped portrait of former Justice Charles Z. Smith, the first minority member to serve on the court, scheduled to be unveiled in a few minutes.

It was important for those teens, particularly the ones who were minorities, to be in the Temple of Justice this day, Yu said. There was a clear message that “they could come here, too, and they could be a justice some day.”

While Yu's move from King County Superior Court to the Supreme Court offers better representation for several different groups, it does not provide more representation for Eastern Washington residents. They make up more than 20 percent of the population but the nine member court has only one justice, Debra Stephens, from Eastern Washington.

Yu said she's not convinced justice is tied to where a person lives, but said she plans to get around the state in the coming months for her campaign, even though she has no opponent, with stops in Eastern Washington's cities and small towns.

“I  need to make an effort to go out and hear what people's concerns are,” she said.

Bring on the Zamboni

Judicial races in Washington usually are notable for having very little notable to report. Candidates compare resumes, look for people to place in long lists of endorsements in their newspaper ads and generally avoid controversy in an effort to seem judicious.

One state Supreme Court candidate may have stirred up controversy just by filing. John “Zamboni” Scannell filed against incumbent Justice Debra Stephens. He’s notable for more than just his nickname, earned from driving the ice-smoothing machine for a Seattle hockey team. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the  blog.

Committee moves bill to cut high court down to 7

OLYMPIA – A plan to reduce the size of the state Supreme Court by two justices was praised as a money saver and criticized as payback for decisions some legislators don’t like.

The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, would cut the nine-member court to seven. It moved out of the Senate Law and Justice Committee Monday on a voice vote, giving it a chance for a vote by the full Senate in the coming weeks… 
  

To read the rest of this item or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Roll-your-own operations shut down

OLYMPIA — Between the courts and Congress, operators of roll-your-own cigarette machines in Washington are essentially out of business for the foreseeable future. Read the story on the main website by clicking here.

Links to the court ruling on I-1183

OLYMPIA — The state Supreme Court upheld Initiative 1183, a.k.a. get the state out of the booze business, on a 5-4 vote. (Here's a link to today's story.)

Or maybe it's better described a 5-3-1 vote, because Justice Tom Chambers disagreed with the majority on some points, but agreed with them on others.

For those who were worried that the court was going to throw a monkey wrench in plans to rush to your favorite discount store and stock up on cheap booze, here's the reason why the changeover to private liquor stores will proceed on schedule:

Justice Steven Gonzalez's majority opinion, signed by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen and Justices Susan Owens, James Johnson and Debra Stephens,  can be found here.

Justice Charlie Wiggins' dissent, signed by Justices Charles Johnson and Mary Fairhurst, can be found here.

Justice Chambers' half and half, where he agrees that voters might've been hoodwinked by calling taxes fees, but agrees with the majority on some other things, can be found here.

As always, feel free to comment on what you think about I-1183, or the court's decision, by clicking here.

State Supreme Ct Race: Wiggins closes gap, Sanders warns of ‘theft’

OLYMPIA — With challenger Charlie Wiggins closing the gap on Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders— and some media outlets predicting Wiggins will win the race — Sanders’ campaign sent out a plea to supporters for money for a possible recount.

“Don’t let Wiggins steal this election” is the subject line of the e-mail asking for money for a fund “to get all the ballots counted.” It notes there are some 17,000 ballots that need to have voters clear up questions with signatures.

In an interview with AP’s Rachel La Corte, Sanders said he didn’t authorize the headline on the fund-raising e-mail and says it shouldn’t say that. (AP report can also be found inside the blog.)

If the phrase “The Don’t Let –- Steal This Election” sounds familiar, maybe it’s because the Building Industry Association of Washington used it on billboards in 2008 to generate support in Eastern Washington for Dino Rossi’s second gubernatorial run. Back then, the alleged thief was Seattle.

It’s pretty much the same sentiment, because Wiggins has nothing to do with counting ballots or validating signatures. If he wins, it will be on the strength of heavy turnout in King County, particularly the city of Seattle, where Sanders came under fire for comments some considered racist regarding the proportion of African Americans in prison compared to their representation in the state as a whole. After those comments he was “unendorsed”  by the Seattle Times about a week before the election.

Online poker and betting: High Court doubles down

Mike Poppke and his “poker-playing  buddy” Prince, a Malamute/Husky mix, attend a Poker Player Alliance rally on the steps of the state Capitol Thursday.


OLYMPIA – The Washington Supreme Court was asked to decide Thursday whether Internet poker is merely a 21st Century twist on a friendly game played at the kitchen table or “the crack cocaine of gambling.”

Online gambling is illegal in Washington, and should remain that way, assistant attorney general Jerry Ackerman said, because it can’t be regulated and monitored like casino gambling. Internet sites can’t prevent minors from playing, or cut off compulsive gamblers, he said.

But Lee Rousso, who is challenging the law, said the ban is “illegally protectionist” because it helps local gambling operations by banning out-of-state or out-of-country operations. Internet gambling sites are regulated, just not by the state, he said.

The justices seemed skeptical of the legal distinction the state makes between games played in a casino or licensed card room, and on the Internet.

For more on this story, go inside the blog

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.

Review petition filed in school suicide lawsuit

The legal saga of the custodian who claims her school forced her to clean up a student’s suicide mess continued this month as a lawyer for the Nine Mile Falls School District asked the state Supreme Court to review a state Court of Appeals ruling regarding the lawsuit.

Debbie Rothwell claims she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after cleaning up the bloody scene inside the main entrance to Lakeside High School in 2004, then serving cookies to mourning students hours later and tending to the makeshift memorial that week, according to a May 2007 lawsuit. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt dismissed the suit in January 2008, ruling the incident was covered by the Industrial Insurance Act.

The Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit in a 2-1 ruling last month. Spokane lawyer Michael McFarland filed a petition for discretionary review to the state Supreme Court last week.

At issue in the legal rulings has not been the merits of one side’s claim versus the other’s, but whether Rothwell’s claims fall outside the bounds of the Industrial Insurance Act, which prohibits lawsuits based on industry injury or occupational disease.

“I can tell you that my clients strongly dispute many of the allegations contained in Ms. Rothwell’s Complaint, and my investigation into this matter supports my client’s assertions,” McFarland wrote in an email. “While I believe that the Supreme Court will accept review of this matter, and will thereafter reverse the Court of Appeals, I am also very confident that if forced to litigate this case at the trial court level, (former Superintendent) Michael Green and the District will ultimately prevail.”

McFarland continued, “All I will say at this time is that if and when the true facts come out, they will show that in the face of a tragic situation, Michael Green and Nine Mile Falls School District acted entirely appropriately and responsibly, taking into consideration the best interests and well-being of the students, staff and Nine Mile Falls School District community.”

Spokane lawyer William Powell represents Rothwell. Stevens County Sheriff’s Craig Thayer and three deputies were originally names as defendants in the suit but have since been dismissed.