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Spokane developer Harlan Douglass arrested on charge of assault at courthouse

Prominent businessman accused of punching person in face outside of courtroom

April 15, 2015 Updated Wed., April 15, 2015 at 8:28 p.m.

Police arrested prominent Spokane developer Harlan Douglass after he allegedly punched a courtroom adversary Wednesday morning in the hallway of the Spokane County Courthouse, according to witnesses and reports. Spokane County Jail records show the 78-year-old Douglass was booked on suspicion of third-degree assault. Attorneys declined to name the person he is accused of hitting. Spokane Police were called to the courthouse shortly after 11 a.m. by someone reporting an assault, said police spokeswoman Teresa Fuller. “It appears that Mr. Douglass did assault someone in the courtroom hallway,” Fuller said. The assault is a felony because it happened on courthouse property, she said. Douglass is participating in a civil trial pitting C 1031 Properties against First American Title and testified on the stand Wednesday morning previous to the alleged assault. The attorney for C 1031 Properties, Steve Hassing, declined to comment on the alleged assault. Attorney John Munding confirmed that an employee of his client, First American Title Insurance Co., was involved in the incident but declined to give details. “It’s just an unfortunate thing,” he said. Douglass alleges First American failed to disclose a utilities easement at the current site of Self Storage Spokane, 214 S. Eastern Road, when the land – then vacant – was purchased by C 1031 Properties in 2007. The suit claims that the easement limited plans to build the storage complex Douglass claimed in an affidivat filed in the case that he owned C 1031 Properties, but records and other court documents indicate the company is owned by someone else. C 1031 was created, according to court records filed by First American Title, to help companies avoid paying capital gains taxes on land purchases. The storage company sits on land that was the previous home of the East Sprague Drive-In, a single-screen, 1,000-car attraction that shuttered in 1993. In 2010 the land was transferred from C 1031 Properties to Indian Summer Springs LLC, which is owned by Douglass’ son, Harley Douglass. The property company claimed First American Title should have to pay Avista to bury power lines on the property, which were constructed in 1949. Douglass says First American owes the company $60,000, and attorney fees for a drawn-out legal battle that began in March 2009 and has reached the Washington appellate courts. A bench trial in the case began before Spokane Superior Court Judge John O. Cooney on Monday. Douglass was in jail as of 8 p.m. Wednesday. He is expected to remain there until he appears before a judge Thursday afternoon.
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