Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

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.

Judicial Races Begin in Ferry County and Okanogan County

As sure as Spring is in the air, the 2010 election races continue to take shape.  This last week, candidates for the position of District Court Judge were announced in Ferry County and Okanogan County.  Attorney Henry “Hank” Rawson announced his interest in the position opening for Okanogan District Court Judge.  Judge David Edwards announced that he is retiring and is not running for re-election.  Coverage of Hank Rawson’s announcement is in the print edition of The Omak-Chronicle and is on the KMOW site here.  Rawson’s announcement sets him to run against Rick Weber, who has been on the bench there filling in for the last couple years in District Court.   Rick Weber was the elected prosecuting attorney in Okanogan County up until 2002, when he chose not to run for re-election.  The Wenatchee-World covers the race here.  Both men have served as judges and have run campaigns in the past, and my guess is that we are not going to see a lot of fur flying.  But I guess a blogger can always hope.

In the print edition of the Ferry County View, Republic lawyer Tom Brown announced his candidacy for judge in Ferry County.  The paper doesn’t have the announcement online, but for more info you can check out his Tom Brown for Ferry County Judge site.  Brown’s site announces that his campaign manager is Ray Maycumber.  Maycumber is a popular sheriff’s deputy who was recently promoted to manager of the 911 center, and has been mentioned in earlier posts here and here.  Tom Brown currently works as a deputy prosecutor covering felony cases.  His announcement set him to challenge Lynda Eaton who has not announced her intentions.

In Stevens County, no one has announced a challenge to the sitting judge.  As you recall Gina Tveit was appointed by the Stevens County Commissioners last year to replace Pam Payne, see post.

Comings soon: more on north county prosecutor candidates.

Steve Tucker Puts Election Challenger on Leave

It looks like he took the day to think about it, but Spokane Prosecutor Steve Tucker closed the week by putting David Stevens on leave.  David Stevens, a deputy prosecutor in Tucker’s office,  announced a short time ago that he would run against his boss in the 2010 election.  See yesterday’s post.    Tucker seemed to be predicating the disciplinary action on the fact that Stevens criticized him publicly.  See Spokesman article.  From a legal standpoint disciplining an employee for running for office could be problematic.  In many prosecuting attorney offices, the deputies serve at will, and can be fired at any time as envisioned by RCW 36.27.040.  However, this general rule is trumped by any specific union contract or personnel policy in effect in the particular office.

Elected prosecuting attorneys usually face a lose-lose proposition when a deputy runs against them.  The elected prosecutor can fire the deputy and look mean and vindictive and face a lawsuit, or he can keep signing the paychecks as his employee trashes him on the campaign trail.  Keeping the election challenger on the payroll usually splits the office into two different camps, and productivity plummets.

Do you want to see what a recent interoffice election battle can do to a prosecutor’s office?  Check out Grant County.  In 2008 elected prosecutor John Knodell quit after 5 terms to serve as a judge.  Therefore the commissioners appointed Deputy Prosecutor Angus Lee to replace him, and many more senior lawyers quit, and one was fired.  Another deputy prosecutor, Albert Lin ran against him.  Angus Lee didn’t fire him, and the office was largely split into two camps of Albert Lin supporters or Angus Lee supporters.  I blogged a little about it here and here, but the definitive article is The Albert and Angus Show.   (It seems like Angus Lee is now getting the office back on track.)

While I am sure Steve Tucker was not excited about being called “an absent administrator”, it gets worse.  During the Grant County election one deputy prosecutor called Angus Lee a “c**k sucker.”  See source.

The bottom line is if you are going to run against your boss, you should quit.  This is true of any county courthouse position.  This is particularly true if you will be publicly criticizing your boss.  If you run for office to improve the office, it is not fair to stick around and cause deep rifts that ruin productivity.  A campaign is a major distraction.   I suppose ideally you would get fired, collect unemployment, have lots of time to doorbell, play the martyr, and reserve the right to bring a lawsuit.  But that is in your interest, not the public’s.

However, if the election challenger does not do the right thing and quit, the incumbent is not advised to fire him for that reason alone.  The legal authority is too murky in this area, particularly where there is a union contract.  It is probably nice not to have your opponent in your office spying on you, but if a suit is filed it will be the public who ends up paying the price.

What do you think?  Should election challengers stay or go?  Can an employee really mount a challenge against his or her boss without harming the office as a whole?

Attorney David Stevens Challenges Steve Tucker for Spokane Prosecuting Attorney

The Spokesman-Review reported this morning that attorney David Stevens was challenging his boss Steve Tucker for the elected position of Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney.

Attorney David Stevens

Attorney David Stevens came out swinging, and was quoted as characterizing his boss as “an absent administrator” and saying that he has seen a “total lack of leadership.”   The reporter for the Spokesman-Review, Jonathan Brunt, asked Steve Tucker if David Stevens could be let go, and Tucker reportedly said “all options are on the table.”

It will be interesting to see the fireworks in this campaign.  Attorney David Stevens has run for about a zillion elected positions in the past.  You have probably heard his name before.  Here is the tally if you haven’t been keeping track: In 2004, he ran unsuccessfully against Democrat Alex Wood for, who won the 3rd District legislative race.  Part of his campaign was to oppose gay marriage.  See source.  In 2006, he ran for District Court Judge in Spokane against Harvey Dunham and lost.  In 2008, he ran unsuccessfully against Linda Tompkins for Spokane Superior Court Judge, arguing that the bench needed more former prosecuting attorneys.

David Stevens is a 1999 law grad from UW.  Although he has lost all his races in the past, he has always been able to garner a fair amount of endorsements.  It doesn’t seem that he has a web page yet for his latest race.  In 2008, when the Spokane County Bar Association attempted to conduct a poll of lawyers on the potential judicial candidates, David Stevens refused to participate.

I blogged about David Stevens last December on the subject of his questionable decision to send a man to prison for 2 1/2 years for stealing a can of sardines from Rite-Aid.  See post.  I am a former prosecutor and there is something to be said for being tough on crime, but I really wonder about the wisdom of Stevens’ decision to use a prison bed on a sardine thief.  There are just too many other violent criminals that ought to be in there.

What do you think?  Is David Stevens the right man for the job?  Will any defense lawyers run for prosecutor this year?  Was Stevens right to tie up a jail bed for 29 months for the guys who stole sardines?

Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking:
Law Office of Steve Graham
1312 North Monroe Street, #140
Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 252-9167
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