Posts Tagged ‘Mike Sandona’

Judge Speaks out on Prosecutor Race: Dennis Morgan versus Mike Sandona

Retired Ferry County Superior Court Judge Larry Kristianson has endorsed Dennis Morgan over the incumbant prosecutor Michael Sandona in Ferry County.   Judge Kristianson served as a judge in Ferry County for over twenty years.  Mike Sandona and Dennis Morgan are both running for the position of Ferry County Prosecuting Attorney.  The race will be decided in the November election. For a prior post on the Sandona / Morgan race, see here

Just Another Day in Court for Attorney Dennis Morgan

Dennis Morgan is running for prosecutor this year against Mike Sandona.  As I mentioned in a blog post last April, appeals work can be pretty low profile.  At least that used to be true before TVW.  TVW is the CSPAN of Washington State.  Dennis Morgan is often on TVW because he often makes the drive from Republic to Olympia to argue cases at the  State Supreme Court.  Dennis Morgan has been practicing for about 35 years, and is recognized State-wide for his legal abilities. Check him out in his most recent appearance on TVW.
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If you look closely, you can see some of the Supreme Court Justices I have blogged about in the past.  Justice Richard Sanders is present, who I blogged about here.   Also, Justice Gerry Alexander is present, who I blogged about here.

The Dennis Morgan / Mike Sandona prosecutor race is set for August for the primary, and November for the general election.  Morgan’s Facebook campaign page is here.  I look forward to seeing the candidate’s night featuring Dennis Morgan and Mike Sandona.   The general election will decided the race for Ferry County Prosecutor on November 3rd, 2010.  Mike Sandona was elected to the position in November 2006 in a race against James Von Sauer and Alexander Wirt.

Attorneys Patrick Monasmith and Dennis Morgan Declare for Prosecutor in Stevens, Ferry County

I blogged last month about judicial races in Ferry and Okanogan County.   Now it is time to catch up on prosecutor races in this area.  In Stevens County, Chewelah attorney Patrick Monasmith recently declared his candidacy for the position of Stevens County Prosecuting Attorney against Tim Rasmussen.  You may remember that Monasmith was one of Governor’s Locke’s two finalists for appointed Superior Court judge in ’03.  For more on Monasmith, check out the article by Jamie Henneman in the  Statesman-Examiner.

In Ferry County, attorney Dennis Morgan has declared his candidacy for Ferry County Prosecuting Attorney.   Dennis Morgan has been a lawyer for about 35 years and was an elected judge in Adams County in years past.  In the years he has lived in Ferry County, I often call on him for advice on legal issues in criminal law that I face.  Morgan has recently focused a lot of his practice on doing appeal work, and that means that he has kept a lower profile locally.  However, he has done some major criminal jury trials here in Ferry County, including many cases in which the defendants have faced potential lengthy prison terms.   Although I consider the incumbent prosecutor Mike Sandona a friend, I decided to back Dennis Morgan and hung one of his signs at my office.  I didn’t make my decision to support Morgan based on friendships, or based on my law practice, or any contract work I do with the county.   I made the decision from the perspective of  a community member, and as an individual raising a family in the area.  I think Dennis Morgan has the work habits, the legal mind, the gravitas, and the fair-minded temperament to serve the community in the very important roll of prosecutor.

Since I haven’t blogged in a while here at Graham Lawyer Blog, I figured I would explain why.  In late March my blog was hacked by spammers who inserted a bunch of hidden links to pharmaceutical dealers in India, and an apparent effort to boost the google ranking of those suppliers.  I had to call in an expert to fix my blog.  Also, I was out of town on a murder trial in Okanogan County that kept me pretty busy.  I had the pleasure of working with two lawyers down there named Anthony Frey and Sunshine Poliquin.    I don’t usually blog about my own cases, but for those interested you can visit the Omak Chronicle, the Wenatchee World or the Okanogan Valley Gazette.

In the weeks to come, I hope to cover more on the judicial races in Eastern Washington, the prosecutors race in Spokane county, and how candidates are using the internet in new ways.  I also blogged last year about coaching a mock trial team for the local high school.  This year I will be coaching the mock trial team for Curlew high School.  When I get the date of the competition, I will let you know.  It is usually pretty entertaining to watch.

Local Officials Brace for Election Challenges

Four years can go by fast.  One day you are elected and on the top of the world, and then New Years Day 2010 comes around, and like a hangover, the unpleasant reality of an election year is upon you.   Rural prosecuting attorneys who won large pay raises last year (see post) will face an increase in interest for their jobs.  But, starting in Okanogan County, it appears that the prosecuting attorney could be unopposed.  East of there in Ferry County, Prosecuting Attorney Mike Sandona is almost certain to face a challenger. It was almost four years ago that he staged a coup d’etat when he ran against his boss.   He won by a large majority, and everything after that would seem to be downhill.  But that hasn’t stopped him from preparing for an election battle by joining every civic group known to mankind.

In Stevens County, Tim Rasmussen ousted four-termer Gerry Wettle for prosecuting attorney in 2006.  He does not have an election challenger that has announced publicly yet.   Mr Rasmussen connects with voters through his regular column “Prosecutor’s Corner”.  See sample.

The Sheriff’s races in the region may be interesting.  I was surprised to see a campaign bumper sticker as early as last October in Okanogan. Dave Yarnell has announced his candidacy for Sheriff in Okanogan County, and has a pretty impressive website here.  Mr. Yarnell mentioned some dissatisfaction with the current situation in the department in a newspaper article but he doesn’t get into specifics.   I guess there is plenty of time to discuss specific issues in the long hot summer of that region.   He is probably smart to get his web site up early because it can take awhile sometimes for search engines to even find your site.

In Ferry County, there was talk about election year challenges to Pete Warner.  I received emails from people encouraging Ray Maycumber and Tom Williams to run, but that seems unlikely (from an outsider’s perspective) in light of the fact that Pete Warner just promoted Maycumber to the position of 911 coordinator,  and has apparently made Tom Williams the undersheriff.  Other candidates have been mentioned as possibilities but no one that I have talked to has declared.  I did a poll last year with limited success – see here.  Comments are always welcome but I think for comments about political races people need to post their first and last name.

Election Year Round-Up: Candidates Angus Lee, Albert Lin, Chris Thew, Nattalie Cariker, Larry Heming, Alexander Wirt, Tracy Staab, and Ryan Whitaker.

I know it is an off year for elections, but there are still good election battles going on.  Let’s start with the Grant County prosecutor race.  It all started when Grant County Prosecuting Attorney John Knodell decided that he wanted to run for judge last Fall.  He ran for Ken Jorgensen’s seat.  When Knodell was elected judge, he resigned from his job as prosecutor in the middle of his term.  The commissioners then appointed Angus Lee for the position, who I blogged about in an earlier post.   Angus Lee is a charismatic, 30-something Iraq war vet who was working in District Court prosecuting such cases as DUI and assaults.

Angus Lee

Angus Lee

He was interviewed by the Grant County Commissioners, and must have charmed them because he was selected over several more experienced deputy prosecutors.  Angus Lee faces a electoral challenge from Albert Lin, an amiable ’97 Syracuse Law grad with lots of felony trials under his belt.

Albert Lin

Albert Lin

Things got interesting when retired judge Ken Jorgensen weighed in on the political race in a letter to the editor.  Jorgensen attacked Angus Lee as inexperienced, asking “Would you hire an attorney who had no courtroom experience to represent you in an important trial?  Grant County interim prosecuting attorney Angus Lee has only been in the county for little over two years. He was admitted to the Bar in July 2005 and hired by Grant County in 2006. He has never tried a felony case in Superior Court. He has not even tried a case in Superior Court since he was appointed.”  It is true that Angus Lee is a pretty recent law school grad, but his education was delayed while he served in Iraq.

The voters seem to be turning a deaf ear toward Jorgensen, because Angus Lee was ahead in the primary.   Now that he is retired, I will say that Jorgensen seemed to get a little ornery as time has gone on.   The last time I had a case in front of him in Grant County, he became annoyed at me when I requested color copies of crime scene photographs, as opposed to black-and-white photocopies.  Ooooookay.  As to Angus Lee and Albert Lin, I have worked a little with both, and both would seem to do a good job.  The election contest has lit up the blogs down there, see for example Grant County PowerNet. (Link has been removed.)

Meanwhile, up in Omak, Washington, we are witnessing an election battle for city council between Chris Thew and Nattalie Cariker.  Thew is a former reporter from the Omak Chronicle, and I enjoyed his news stories there.  He really seemed to try to cover all perspectives.  Reporters would seem to have good qualifications for running for city council.  They often sit through meetings, and are probably well versed on the Open Public Meetings Act, and Public Record Act.   Nattalie Cariker also knows a little something about the law, having worked as a police officer for the city of Brewster, and having studied criminal justice at WSU.  A big function of any city government is working with the police department.

Up in the city of Republic, retired-attorney Alexander Wirt faces a city council election challenge from Larry Heming.

In an election issue for Republic City Council is the problem of over population of tame deer, and selected=

Alex Wirt ran for Ferry County Prosecuting Attorney against me in ’98, and against other opponents in ’02 and ’06, but he never won.   He gave up his bar license when he retired, so he does not appear to pose an election threat against the current Ferry County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Sandona.  Mike Sandona faces re-election next year.  See earlier post.

In Spokane, lawyer Bryan Whitaker is taking on Tracy Staab for judge.

Bryan Whitaker

Bryan Whitaker

Bryan Whitaker is an attorney in private practice who also works as a pro tem judge.  He has highlighted the fact that he is actually a resident of the city of Spokane, while the incumbant Tracy Staab lives outside the city limits.  There is no requirement in the city code that a judge live in the city, but as a matter of Spokane pride this issue seems to have captured people’s attention.  The Spokesman-Review ran an editorial endorsing Tracy Staab and opining that the residency of the candidates should be a non-issue.  However, in an otherwise slow election year the Spokesman’s reporters continue to cover the debate on this issue.

Tracy Staab

Tracy Staab

The issue has dragged in other city officials who have been quick to get involved, including Bob Apple, who characterized Staab as a “carpetbagger” in an email.  Jim Camden wrote an opinion piece correcting his use of the term.   Tracy Staab has highlighted the fact that she received a higher rating from the Spokane County Bar Association, and has a broader array of support from sitting judges.

The job Staab and Whitaker are running for is the position of Municipal Court Judge.  The only criminal court cases that a Municipal Court Judge hears are misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors such as DUI, simple assaults, petty theft, and possession of small amounts of marijuana.  Both candidates have broad experience in their background including work as a prosecutor and as a criminal defense lawyer.

What are my predictions for the ’09 election year?  That would put the winners as Angus Lee, Chris Thew, Larry Heming, and Tracy Staab.  Time will tell.

As always, I welcome everyone to post comments, but please limit input to constructive, thoughtful comments.

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Photo of Steve Graham Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer who works in eastern Washington, including Spokane, Grant, Ferry, Stevens, Lincoln, and Okanogan, and Whitman counties. Visit his website by clicking: www.grahamdefense.com
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