Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fairhurst and Basic Rights?

Justice Fairhurst's ad on the blog claims that she is "committed to protecting everyone's basic rights." But her record would suggest that just the opposite is true, no matter what is meant by the expression "basic rights."

Let's assume that when she refers to her committment to protecting "basic" rights, she means Constitutional rights. The Supreme Court is usually called upon to define and apply the Constitutional rights. They are pretty basic, and as our state Constitution says, a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is essential to the preservation of individual liberty and free government.

If basic rights include free speech, which they do, then why did she vote to censor or punish free speech in three cases?

If basic rights include actual notice that the government is going to select your property for condemnation, which they do, then why did she rule that posting an announcement on the agency website was adequate notice?

If basic rights include access to public records, which they do, then why has she consistently voted to conceal public records, and why did she most recently agree to characterize public records as "contraband"?

If basic rights prohibit the government from granting special privileges to corporations, which they do, then why did she vote to approve monopoly rights to two corporations?

And the list goes on. Too often Justice Fairhurst has failed to protect even the most basic of citizen rights. It is time for a change in Olympia. Vote Bond for Justice.


Ellis Reyes said...


Apparently basic rights also include protecting predatory teachers from having their criminal behaviors disclosed to the public. In yesterday's decision, Justice Fairhurst voted to conceal the names of teachers accused of molesting children unless they were found guilty of sexual misconduct or some form of disciplinary action was taken.

While I am acutely sensitive to the possibility of false accusations against teachers, I find Justice Fairhurst's decision faulty on several counts. First of all, if a teacher is accused of such behavior, he or she is placed immediately on administrative leave. When that occurs, everyone in the community knows that something is going on and the rumor mill kicks into high gear. The teacher is then and forever persona non grata in that district and to assume otherwise is just naive.

Second, in the world of tenured employment and tight district budgets, isn't it simply easier for a district to ask a teacher to leave quietly than to embark upon an investigation that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and turn up nothing? What then? The teacher gets a job in a neighboring district and continues his/her repulsive behavior until the process repeats itself; for thirty years. No sexual misconduct was ever proven and no formal disciplinary action taken so this predator is able to fly beneath the radar for an entire career. As the parent of two young children, this bothers me a great deal.

Finally, as public employees, and particularly as employees placed in positions in which we work directly with children, I believe that the greater good is served by aggressively protecting the children. As a direct extension, teachers' workplace behavior should be a matter of public record. I don't even think it's negotiable. These types of issues should not be investigated behind the scenes. They should be as transparent as possible. If someone is accused, the public should know. If they are vindicated, then the public should know, along with the circumstances surrounding the investigation. If someone was not able to be prosecuted due to a lack of evidence, that is significantly different than someone who is actually innocent and was investigated because a student lied.

Do teachers and other public employees have privacy rights? Absolutely. But do we have a greater obligation to protect students from predators with teaching certificates? I think so.

Jeff Ellis said...

Many of the cases that come before the Washington Supreme Court raise issues about the basic rights of individuals accused of crimes. You don't seem to have any experience in criminal matters and you don't seem to comment on those issues. Can you give us a sense of your views on criminal law?

Michael J. Bond said...


Thanks for your inquiry.

In my first job as a lawyer I was a Judge Advocate in the Marine Corps and in that job I worked on criminal cases.

I was stationed in San Diego at the Marine Corps boot camp, and the cases often involved drill instructors who were accused of abusing one or more recruits. These were high profile cases in which the lawyers and commanding officers who brought the charges dealt with two competing interests. One the one hand there was a sincere desire to enforce the law and punish offenders, and on the other hand some often thought the crimes charged were not proportional to the gravity of the acts alleged or the Marine's exemplary record up to that point in his career.

I wrote about one case in which the Marine was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison at the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth and you can read about it at

We came to Seattle in 1982 when I entered private practice in civil cases. I've had several legal malpractice cases in which I defended a criminal defense lawyer who was accused of botching a criminal case, including an interesting case in which a guy pled guilty and after spending a year at the penitentiary in Walla Walla, he got a new lawyer who pursuaded the King County Prosecutor to recommend that the guilty plea be withdrawn and the charges dismissed.

In terms of general philosophy, I believe that the power of the state to charge and prosecute is so great that an essential role of the courts is to ensure that the accused person's Constitutional rights are honored and a fair and impartial trial took place; while not losing sight of the fact that our Constitution grants victims of crime certain rights, too.

These competing interests are not dissimilar to what I faced every day as a Marine lawyer.

Jeff Ellis said...

Can you identify a recent Washington Suprenme Court decision in a criminal case that you agree with and one you disagree with and explain why?

Michael J. Bond said...



In State v. Hall, 162 Wn.2d 901, the Supreme Court ruled that the state's attempt to prosecute Mr. Hall violated his double jeopardy rights. I wrote about this case on the blog. I thought this was the correct decision, and it showed how the Court fulfilled its most essential role: to protect the people from the power of government.

In State v. Jacob T.L. Minor, 162 Wn.2d 796, the Court reversed a conviction because a box on a form was not checked. The facts of the case show that the defendant knew it was illegal for him to possess a firearm in view of a felony conviction, but the Court wrote that the failure to "check the box" mislead the defendant about his rights. I thought this was the wrong decision because it placed form over substance.

Form is very important in the criminal process, but in this case the Court took it too far. I might have been less concerned if the decision did not assert that the trial court "mislead" the defendant as that implied some bad faith conduct that was clearly unwarranted. I've been present for sentencings like the one at issue and my experience is that the court takes great pains to instruct the defendant of his/her rights and, from what the defendant said later, it is clear that the court had done its job, all except for putting a check mark in a box on a form.

gerrycammy said...

Mr. Bond,
Thank you for linking your blog, as it's been a great opportunity to learn more about you. I'm still on the fence though, because I don't have a good feel about your view of 'property rights'.

While I agree with your sentiments on free speech in the seattle housing authority cases, I disagree with your views on protecting accused teachers. I believe strongly in due process and innocent until proven guilty. To often these cases are politisized and emotional, and I want a judge who can look at the facts of a case, not emotion.

Where do you stand on property rights, such the idea that the government should compensate property owners when their 'development rights' are removed under growth management? Or 'rights' of shoreline property owners to build right on the shoreline?

And what about businesses and corporations? Do you view that they have the same rights as citizens, such as free speech in influencing elections?

Also, on another note, what are your thoughts on drug policy, manditory minimums, and medical marijuana?

Thanks for providing this forum.