Richard Sanders Best Choice for Supreme Court

When I filled out my mail-in ballot today, I voted for Richard Sanders for the Washington State Supreme Court.  It wasn’t a hard decision.  I have always like him, even back when I was a prosecutor. Some of the other justices seem like they are inclined to pretty much rubber stamp every decision made by our State or local governments.  Sanders isn’t above taking the government to task.  I remember years ago, when I was handling a water rights case against the Department of Ecology, I read an earlier opinion of his calling the Department’s failure to follow its own timelines “scandalous”.  The opinion was a dissenting opinion, but I was still able to quote it to the administrative law judge to help push Ecology along.  I don’t believe that Sanders’ opponent, Charles Wiggins, is such a bad guy.  But I definitely prefer Sanders, and think that many of Wiggins’ criticisms of Sanders are unfair.

I think the Seattle-Times put it best this morning with their headline: “WA Supreme Court Race Puts Sanders on Defense”.   Richard Sanders IS on the defensive, but not from the Seattle-Times, which endorsed him.  Most other major newspapers of Washington have endorsed him too.  Rather, Sanders’ biggest critics are elected prosecutors and superior court judges, most of whom are supporting his opponent.  But the Seattle-Times didn’t mention one increasingly outspoken critic of Sanders: the editors of the Seattle paper The Stranger.  The biggest critic is one assistant editor, named Eli Sanders, oddly enough.  The Stranger? You may not have heard of it if you live in Eastern Washington.  And you may not have heard of it if you live in Western Washington either.  Its circulation is mainly in Seattle, but as we know from past gubernatorial races, Seattle has a lot of votes.  And The Stranger seems to be going of their way to discredit Sanders in every way possible.  The Stranger has taken to digging up past articles he wrote years ago as a student of UW.  The Stranger has also been digging through his old court files from his divorce in 1969, and the paper quotes a named individual that claims that Justice Sanders introduced two different women as his “girlfriend”.   Like I said, they are really going after him.  This article, which is here, was accurately characterized as a “hatchet job” by Seattle blogger Barry Pump.  As to digging up Sander’s past student articles from the 1960’s, Barry Pump writes that he already wishes to take back opinion pieces he wrote as a student, and that was just 4 or 5 years ago.  The funny thing, in my opinion, is that next to this article, The Stranger has racy personal ads, and also an advertisement inviting readers to click a banner ad where they can make money by starring in pornographic movies.  The editors of The Stranger are mostly irked at Sanders for characterizing himself as a champion of freedom when he voted on the court not to recognize the right of gay marriage.  The case was Anderson v. King County, a decision that I don’t agree with either, but that hasn’t prevented me from seeing the overall value of having Sanders on the Supreme Court.  It is hard to really pigeon-hole Sanders supporters.  When I was an elected prosecutor, I supported the guy, but I was one of the few.  I know a lot of deputy prosecutors that support him too individually.  The newspapers stories always tout the opposition of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, but that group just speaks as a voice of the 39 elected prosecutors of Washington.

What do you think?  Is Sanders the way to go?  Will The Stranger be able to sway voters?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR….
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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