The Washington Supreme Court will listen to oral arguments on Aug. 24 about whether the proposed recall of Mayor Jim West should move forward.
The state’s highest court set that hearing Monday, finalizing the schedule for West’s appeal of the petition that would allow recall proponents to gather signatures in their bid to let voters decide whether he should be ousted for improper use of his office. The court is hearing the arguments during its regular summer recess under an expedited process.
West’s attorneys must file their initial appeal brief by this Thursday, under a schedule announced by the court on July 14. Recall sponsor Shannon Sullivan must file a reply by Aug. 5, and West’s response is due Aug. 15.
Sullivan, a single mother from north Spokane with no formal legal training, says she intends to present part of the arguments against the appeal herself. Last month, she successfully defended her recall petition against a legal challenge from West’s team of three lawyers.
Craig Matheson, a visiting Superior Court judge from Benton and Franklin counties, ruled that two of Sullivan’s allegations against West did not have sufficient evidence to move the recall forward. But one allegation, that he misused the mayor’s office by offering internships “for his own purposes,” did have enough information to move to the next step, the judge ruled.
Under state law, he wasn’t determining whether the allegations were true.
Matheson later rewrote the ballot synopsis for the proposed recall, adding significant amounts of details that weren’t in Sullivan’s proposal. West’s attorneys are expected to argue in their appeal that there wasn’t enough information in Sullivan’s proposal to support that allegation, and that Matheson exceeded his authority by extensively rewriting the ballot synopsis.
Even if the court were to deny West’s appeal, Sullivan and other recall supporters would need to turn in petitions signed by at least 12,600 registered city voters before Sept. 23 to get the proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot.
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