Problems Continue in Grant County

I dare say John Knodell had no idea what kind of chaos would ensue when he decided to step down from his position as Grant County Prosecuting Attorney.  He had served almost 20 years, and resigned when he was elected judge in November of 2008.

A power struggle in Grant County has followed after John Knodell stepped down from that position in '08 after serving for almost 20 years.

Knodell left what  I think political scientists call a “power vacuum”, and we all know that nature abhors a vacuum.   After the Commissioners appointed Angus Lee as prosecuting attorney, he won the election with a slender majority, and hard feelings have followed.  (See prior blog posts on the election battle here, here, and here.)  Angus Lee’s election year opponent Albert Lin just filed a 2.5 million dollar claim against Grant County alleging he was pressured to commit unethical acts by Lee last year.  See article.   Lin complains that he was unlawfully fired.  Hmmmmm.  Sounds a lot like the case in Pierce County in 2008.  Deputy Prosecutor Barbara Corey was fired, and later came back to win a 3 million dollar lawsuit against Pierce County for unlawful termination, defamation of character, etc.  See article.

The people who really end up losing are the public citizens.  This is true in two ways.  First the public ends up paying the big jury awards (the prosecutors don’t pay out of their own pockets of course).  Secondly, the public also pays in lost productivity when a prosecutors office is split in two between supporters of both sides.

Another prosecutor’s race to watch is Kittitas County.  Former deputy prosecutor Mark McClain came out swinging when he announced that he was going to run against his former boss Greg Zempel.  His announcement read: An antiquated office structure, policies which hamper the dedicated and capable staff, a focus on misdemeanor offenses rather than felony crimes with prison sentences, and an elected prosecutor absent from the courtroom, are at the heart of the issue and must be changed in order to protect and maintain the safe community which we enjoy. Ouch!  Whatever happened to at least starting off a campaign on a positive note?

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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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