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Posts tagged as “washington supreme court”

Tent City mobility

tent city

Tent City

Probably not many cities are really eager to bring in something like Tent City. But they have to be somewhere, and after a decision today by the Washington Supreme Court in Woodinville v. Northshore United Church of Christ, they have fewer ways to block them. Not none, but fewer.

Tent City 4 is a development of two Seattle homeless advocacy groups, SHARE and WHEEL (we'll pass on the long run-out of the acronyms). It has put together tent city places for homeless people: "portable, self-managed communities of up to 100 homeless men and women." It describes them:

SHARE/WHEEL's Tent Cities are democratically organized. They operate with a strict Code of Conduct which requires sobriety, nonviolence, cooperation and participation. Security workers are on duty 24 hours a day. Litter patrols are done on a daily basis.

Tent Cities provide their own trash removal and port-a-potties. Bus tickets are provided to each participant each day so s/he can get to work or appointments. There is a food preparation area. Volunteers bring hot meals most evenings to both Tent Cities.

Tent Cities are needed because there is not enough indoor shelter for all who need it in King County. Tent Cities provide a safe place to leave your belongings, flexible hours for workers, and the ability for couples to stay together.

Tent City 4 was set up for the east side of King County, and has moved around from place to place, about once every three months. It depends, as the Supreme Court decision said, on property owners willing to donate the space for that time. In 2006 SHARE/WHEEL asked Northshore United Church of Christ if it would donate the space, and the church agreed. At which point the city of Woodinville, from which it needed a temporary use permit, responded that because it had in place a land use moratorium - to put a hold on development - the church was denied the permit. The church protested; the Court of Appeals upheld the city; the church appealed, in part, on freedom of religion grounds.

The Supreme Court agreed with the church. A slice of its reasoning here is wel worth the read: (more…)

Take that, or not

richard Sanders

Richard Sanders

A highly unusual Washington Supreme Court decision today in which no members of the Supreme Court participated, for the reason that one of them was the subject of the case. And that one got nailed.

Richard Sanders v. Washington relates back to a tour Sanders took of the McNeil Island Corrections Center in January 2003; during it, he was alleged to have talked with inmates who had cases before the Supreme Court. Ethics charges eventually were brought. In their course, Sanders asked for legal representation from the state attorney general's office, saying he had been acting in an official capacity; the AG turned him down. he then hired his own attorney. The Commission on Judicial Conduct eventually admonished Sanders, who remained and still is on the court. The current case comes from Sanders' contention that the state should pay for his attorney costs in the case.

Here's what the pro tem justices concluded:

Justice Sanders was charged in the complaint before the Commission with ethical violations involving acts that are outside the scope of a judge's official duties. His acts involved contact with offenders who had cases pending in his court. Representation of a judge being disciplined for ethical violations is beyond the purpose of RCW 43.10.040. Its purpose is to provide defense to an official when engaged in official acts. Justice Sanders knew or should have known that his conduct was unethical; therefore, he is not entitled to representation.

Justice Sanders argues that denying representation could leave a judge vulnerable to improper or unfounded charges of ethics violations. If a judge is wrongly charged, however, there are adequate safeguards within the Commission's procedures. Before a case may proceed to hearing, there must be a screening, a preliminary investigation, and a finding of probable cause.

Justice Sanders also argues that since he prevailed on the more serious charges, he should be entitled to recover a pro rata share of his attorney fees. In our view, if a judge is found to have violated any of the canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct, there is no right to representation or reimbursement. Such is the case here.

An early clue

court

From the pages of Washington Supreme Court decisions today comes one that may not have tremendous precedential import (or, maybe it will within the field of family law) but makes up a pretty astonishing read.

In re Marriage of Bernard is the tale of a pre-nuptial agreement, and the wording is intentional: This is a story a small novel could be wrapped around, and maybe one will. It concerns a pre-nuptial agreement insisted on by a wealthy man prior to marriage; the high court tossed it out as procedurally and substantively unfair. The thread of fact and argument are best read there.

But you come away with the thought: If the pre-nup was this difficult, how did either of them ever think the marriage was going to work?