Latest from The Spokesman-Review
An effort to prevent political use of information about their daily duties seems to have backfired on Spokane County District Court judges.
Instead, they handed critics an opportunity to accuse them of being secretive. “What do they have to hide?” asked attorney Timothy Note, who is running against Judge Debra Hayes in the Nov. 2 general election.
Note has raised questions during his campaign about how many days district judges actually work.
The judges decided at their Oct. 6 weekly meeting to quit distributing daily lineup sheets that indicate which judges are presiding over which dockets.
A young attorney who has big ideas on how to make court more efficient is taking on a one-term judge who said her life experiences have made her better at making tough decisions.
Defense attorney Timothy Note (left), 35, is challenging Spokane County District Court Judge Debra Hayes (right) in the Spokane area’s only contested judicial race on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.
Hayes, 54, cited her four years of experience on the job, life experiences and community service. “I think that looking at the two of us, it is a pretty clear choice,” Hayes said. “I’m committed to being a fair and impartial judge.”
But Note, an attorney since 2004, said he has more than 100 fellow lawyers endorsing his campaign to bring more structure and accountability to District Court.
“My platform is not endearing me to the judges who are working there,” Note said. “But at some point, the gravy train needs to end and we need to get back to the people’s work.”
No charges will be filed against a Spokane man arrested on suspicion of driving the getaway truck in an OxyContin robbery at a North Side Walgreens last week.
Although David L. Ratener, 55, was driving the truck, he passed two lie detector tests that showed he knew nothing of the alleged robbery by a young man whom he was driving from a downtown bar May 22. Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz notified Ratener’s attorney, Tim Note, of the decision last week.
Ratener got his truck back the next day. He also “got crash course in the justice system,” Ratener said today.
Ratener was arrested with Robert K. Morris on May 22 after police said Morris robbed the Walgreens at Division Street and Empire Avenue of OxyContin, then fled in Ratener’s truck.
Morris, 26, is to be arraigned on a first-degree robbery charge June 21, but Ratener passed a police-administered polygraph that cleared him of wrongdoing, according to a letter by Steinmetz.
Today, Ratener said that Morris had told him he needed a ride to the Walgreens area to pick up money from a friend. Ratener parked his truck about a block from the store, and Morris returned a few minutes later and said they could leave. Nothing seemed suspicious. Minutes later, police were behind Ratener’s truck. He pulled over and their lights flashed; he looked over and saw Morris swallowing pills, he said.
“I didn’t know the Walgreens had been robbed until the police told me,” Ratener said. “Once they told me what happened it was like ‘how the hell did I get involved in this?’”
Between the robbery and the police stop, Ratener drove back by the pharmacy – another fact that helped his defense, Note said.
Still, “I don’t believe there’s anything Mr. Ratener could have said to avoid getting arrested,” Note said. “It looked bad.”
Ratener spent two days in jail before he was released on his own recognize after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court. He said he used skills learned in survival training in the military to get by.
Note said Ratener case was one of the most bizarre he’s seen.
He learned of the robbery in the news and “pictured some scraggly haired doper looking” man when he arrived at the jail to interview Ratener.
But the senior sound engineer for several Spokane radio stations hardly matched Note’s image of him.
Ratener’s upper middle-class lifestyle, Note said, affords him “no motive for a robbery.”
Past coverage: May 25: Driver was victim of circumstance, lawyer says