Posts Tagged ‘Richard Sanders’

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?

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.

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