Gavel Grab

Prosecutors Ask Removal of Defeated WA Justice

He was defeated at the polls, but former Justice Richard Sanders is still ruling on cases before the Washington Supreme Court, thanks to a two-month temporary appointment from the remaining justices to help wrap up pending cases.

That’s not sitting so well with prosecutors from five counties. They asked the high court to revoke the temporary appointment, contending it was permitted under the state Constitution for retired justices but not defeated ones. The prosecutors were turned down, with no explanation, according to a Seattle Times article.

The newspaper portrayed Justice Sanders as “a self-described libertarian who often sides with defendants.” He was defeated by lawyer Charlie Wiggins (see Gavel Grab). Some other defeated justices have gotten similar temporary appointments in the past.

Justice Sanders suggested that he was singled out for his leanings.

“Plain and simple, they see me as a potential vote on the other side of whatever they’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “My defeat from the court has emboldened them. They think they’re going to take over the show, I guess.”

Hugh Spitzer of the University of Washington Law School contended the underlying question warranted a serious review by the court.

“It probably isn’t appropriate for the court to just blow off the prosecutors if they’ve provided thoughtful briefings on the issue,” he said.

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