Supreme Court Candidate Charlie Wiggins Visits Ferry, Stevens County

On Tuesday, attorney Charles Wiggins visited Ferry and Stevens County in his bid to run for the State Supreme Court.  He is running against incumbent judge Richard Sanders.  I was invited to hear Wiggins speak, but wasn’t able to attend because of my court schedule.  I would have liked to have met him, because the Wiggins / Sanders judicial race is by far the most interesting judicial race in the State.

Wiggins is a lawyer who has spent most of his career in private practice.  He was appointed by the governor to serve as an appeals court judge, but when he ran to retain his position he was he defeated in the next election.

Supreme Court Candidate Charles Wiggins

Much of the focus of his website is critiquing Judge Sanders as being unethical.  I guess the main criticisms were 1) that Richard Sanders visited some inmates on a tour of a prison, and it turned out some of the inmates had cases pending before the court, and 2) that Richard Sanders issued a decision in a public records case that set a legal precedent for a pending case,where Sanders himself had a similar public records issue.

Sanders is pretty outspoken, and sometimes that gets him into trouble.  I first remember him irritating other judges when he spoke at an anti-abortion rally.  Usually, judges are slower to publicly address issues like that.  I remember when Sanders was running for judge in 1998, he was challenged by then Assistant Attorney General Greg Canova.  The Greg Canova campaign asserted that 38 of the 39 elected prosecutors supported him.  I actually think that number was 37, because I was an elected prosecutor then, and I did not support Canova, and I think there was one other besides me.  One of the thing that irks me about some judges, is when they fail to require that the government follow the same laws as everyone else.  Sanders often writes biting dissents criticizing such government actions.   I recall reading his dissent in Hillis v. Department of Ecology, in which he called the State’s failure to comply with permit deadlines “scandalous”.   Justice Sanders was also one of two justices to side with Ferry County on its GMA issues when we went to the Supreme Court in 2005.  Justice Sanders is often hard to predict, and if you really want to know how outspoken he is, you really need to check out a good Seattle PI story here.

Richard Sanders

The story explains how Sanders was at a Federalist Society meeting in D.C. and Sanders got tired of the U.S. Attorney General defending George Bush’s treatment of Guantánamo Bay detainees.  Sanders stood up in the audience and yelled “Tyrant! You’re a Tyrant” and then stormed out.  If you want to listen to this incident, check out it out here, and Sander’s outburst occurs at 17 minutes and 28 seconds into the video.

I mentioned in a blog post earlier this month that Justice Sanders’ Facebook fan page led all other candidates, he has almost 1300 fans.

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2 Responses to “Supreme Court Candidate Charlie Wiggins Visits Ferry, Stevens County”

  • Sandborn:

    Yep, I like Sanders too. I wouldn’t want nine guys just like him on the supreme court, but ever court should at least have one guy like him, just for the good dissents if nothing else.

  • Randall Gaylord:

    Wiggins is a great choice for the supreme court. As a prosecutor, I support Wiggins because he has a judicial temperament and is a good citizen and leader. Wiggin’s team analyzed Sander’s decisions and found that “In that in criminal cases in which the Supreme Court is divided, over 350 cases, Justice Sanders has voted for the criminal defendant and against the prosecution 94% of the time.” Are prosecutors wrong on the law that often or is Justice Sanders biased?

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Photo of Steve Graham Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking: www.grahamdefense.com
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