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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Man accused of threatening a Spokane County judge

When Richard T. Reitz appeared in court Friday on a charge of intimidating a judge he was handcuffed and flanked by three corrections officers, but they said it was because of his violent, unpredictable behavior in jail and not the alleged threat.

Reworked plea nets 60 days for shooter who missed kids

A man who fired several gunshots into a house, narrowly missing two toddlers, after a 2009 dispute over a dog accepted a plea bargain Monday that called for 60 days in jail, which he’s already served. Lucas J. Merrill, 28, had faced seven counts of first-degree assault in a case that previously had been negotiated down to two misdemeanors by Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker. However, a District Court judge in November refused to approve the deal after Tucker declined a request to appear in court and explain the reduction in the severity of the charges against Merrill.

Four finish mental court program

Four community members graduated Wednesday from a program designed to help them overcome the complications that often come with serious mental illness. Spokane County District Court Judge Debra Hayes presided over the ceremony honoring their completion of the 18-month program as part of mental health court, which is a joint effort with Spokane Municipal Court to provide the structure needed to allow the participants to erase misdemeanor charges.

Prosecutor rankles judge

A judge refused this week to honor a plea agreement brokered by Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker after Tucker brushed off her demand to appear in court and explain his actions. Earlier this month, Spokane County District Court Judge Debra Hayes put off the deal – which would have reduced seven felony charges from a shooting incident to two misdemeanors – and ordered Tucker to attend a hearing on Tuesday; Tucker was a no-show.

Mielke, Hayes deny dating conflict

Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke says his dating relationship with a District Court judge poses no conflict as commissioners prepare to fill a vacancy on the court. Mielke and the court’s presiding judge, Debra Hayes, have been in what he describes as “a serious dating relationship” for about a year. Mielke said they’ve known each other since 1988.

Crowd decries social, health services cuts

Saying the state government now faces “one of its hardest moments since the Great Depression,” the head of the Washington Department of Social and Health Services brought bad news Wednesday night to the region’s most vulnerable citizens and those who serve them. Despite making more than $2.2 billion in cuts to social services in the past two years, Susan Dreyfus told an emotional crowd of about 400 people overflowing the DSHS office in Spokane Valley, “Additional reductions are inevitable.”

Courthouse remodel sets off alarms

Two visions for the Spokane County Courthouse collided this week at a security scanner. County commissioners learned Tuesday that a half-million-dollar remodeling project placed a door on the wrong side of a security station.

District judges’ schedules difficult to track

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.

Spokane County District Court, Position 6 race

Local defense attorney Timothy S. Note is challenging one-term incumbent Judge Debra R. Hayes in the District Court’s only contested race this year. The challenger’s campaign has raised questions about how much time Hayes spends on the job.

Incumbent, attorney face off in District Court race

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, 35, is challenging Spokane County District Court Judge Debra Hayes in the Spokane area’s only contested judicial race on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.