RACIAL BIAS

I recently wrote for the court reversing the King County murder conviction of Kevin Monday because the State’s prosecutor intentionally appealed to racial bias. Among other things, he argued African American witnesses as a race were unreliable because “black folk don’t testify against black folk.”   At the outset, I would like to commend the elected King County Prosecuting Attorney, Dan …

WHY DO COURTS INTERPRET THE LAW?

The law, indeed the constitution itself, can become just so much putty in the hands of judges.  So why do we allow judges to interpret the law?  Two answers come to mind, one practical and the other constitutional. The legislature, no matter how skilled in forging words together, cannot anticipate every circumstance.  The very act of judging involves deciding what …

A KICK IN THE BEHIND

…is always a step in the right direction.”   Is my favorite quote from baseball legend, Casey Stengel.  My last blog entry addressed a troublesome Seattle Times article about comments made by one of my colleagues which I felt were largely misinterpreted.  But as often happens, great things may emerge from unfortunate events.  One or more members of this court were …

RICHARD SANDERS, THE MAN, THE ELECTION & THE SEATTLE TIMES

THE ELECTION Charlie Wiggins unseated Justice Richard Sanders from the Washington Supreme Court in November.  While there are many components to any election, I believe that the election was affected by a late series of articles in the Seattle Times, which portrayed Justice Sanders as racially insensitive.   I believe that portrait of Justice Sanders is inaccurate and because later ballots …

CAR STORIES

Life as a Washington Supreme Court Justice has its lighter side too.  Here at the Temple of Justice, we have a little monthly newsletter called “Temple Tidings.” Responsibility for its preparation rotates among the justices and departments.  It was my turn last month and I solicited car stories from my fellow employees.  One, “A-Sort-of Car Story,” by Amy Bailey was …

A WHIMSICAL ARGUMENT FOR ANARCHY

It was total anarchy.  No rules existed and if they did, no one obeyed them. After we whizzed by a couple of red octagon signs, I asked the driver, “Don’t people stop at stop signs?” Our Sikh driver replied in clipped English, “Not mandatory; suggestion only.”  Well, this should be interesting, I thought to myself. But I am starting in …

FREE EXERCISE V. ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT

For this blog I have chosen cases and subjects about which I think you might be interested.  Sometimes I have written about high profile cases or ones the talk show hosts have either misunderstood or twisted to make them seem highly controversial.  But most of those cases have been easy to decide and resulted in unanimous decisions.  The truth is …

SHOULD JUDGES BE ELECTED?

In her retirement, Justice Sandra Day O’Conner has made it her mission to spot light problems with the election of judges.  Several scandals involving state supreme court justices and John Grisham’s book, The Appeal, have further illuminated the issue.  About half the states appoint judges and about half elect judges; generally speaking judges in eastern states are appointed; the more …