NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Tim Eyman throws a temper tantrum after hearing on possible injunction against I‑976

Today was an impor­tant day in the legal chal­lenge against Tim Eyman’s I‑976.

King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Mar­shall Fer­gu­son heard more than two hours of oral argu­ment this morn­ing from attor­neys rep­re­sent­ing the state and a coali­tion of plain­tiffs who are suing the state con­cern­ing the fate of Eyman’s lat­est assault on Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic ser­vices. I‑976 jeop­ar­dizes bil­lions in bipar­ti­san, vot­er-approved trans­porta­tion invest­ments at mul­ti­ple lev­els, and if it is not stopped, it will harm com­mu­ni­ties in every part of the state.

Argu­ing for the plain­tiffs (who con­tend that I‑976 is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al) were Seat­tle’s Car­olyn Boies, King Coun­ty’s David Hack­ett, and Paci­fi­ca Law Group’s Matthew Segal. Boies and Hack­ett rep­re­sent­ed the local gov­ern­ments they work for, while Segal rep­re­sent­ed the remain­ing plain­tiffs, which include the Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Cities, Garfield Coun­ty Trans­porta­tion Author­i­ty, and Inter­ci­ty Tran­sit, plus the Wash­ing­ton State Tran­sit Asso­ci­a­tion and Michael Rogers.

Argu­ing for the State was Deputy Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al Alan Copsey. The State of Wash­ing­ton is the defen­dant in this case because I‑976 passed in the Novem­ber 2019 gen­er­al elec­tion. (Note that I‑976 was *not* approved by a major­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers; most Wash­ing­to­ni­ans did not vote in the elec­tion.)

At the out­set of the oral argu­ment, Judge Mar­shall Fer­gu­son made it clear that he expect­ed every­one in his court­room to behave appro­pri­ate­ly and uphold the deco­rum of the court. And for the entire­ty of the pro­ceed­ings, every­one did… every­one except for I‑976 spon­sor Tim Eyman, that is.

It took only a few days for Eyman’s Elec­tion Night eupho­ria to total­ly evap­o­rate. Gid­dy Tim Eyman has been replaced by Angry Tim Eyman… a sullen fig­ure who snaps and snarls and is prone to sud­den out­bursts when he is deprived of atten­tion or an oppor­tu­ni­ty to hear the sound of his own voice for too long.

Those present in the court­room this morn­ing got to watch Angry Tim Eyman blow up right before their very eyes just before Fer­gu­son declared court adjourned.

Upon the con­clu­sion of oral argu­ment, but before Fer­gu­son had risen to return to cham­bers, Eyman sprang out of his front-row seat in the court­room and pro­ceed­ed to hijack the pro­ceed­ings, denounc­ing the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s efforts in defense of Ini­tia­tive 976 as inad­e­quate and whin­ing that his pal Clint Didier’s attempts to inter­vene in the case had not borne any fruit yet.

Judge Mar­shall Fer­gu­son respond­ed calm­ly, telling Eyman he was out of line, but Eyman refused to sit down and con­tin­ued his rant.

Judge Marshall Ferguson admonishes Tim Eyman

King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Mar­shall Fer­gu­son admon­ish­es an unhap­py Tim Eyman at the end of oral argu­ment for and against a pos­si­ble injunc­tion bar­ring Eyman’s I‑976 from tak­ing effect (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute)

The judge respond­ed a sec­ond time, reit­er­at­ing that Eyman was not rec­og­nized to address the court and not­ing that pret­ty much every mem­ber of the pub­lic in his court­room like­ly also has strong feel­ings about Ini­tia­tive 976 and might appre­ci­ate an oppor­tu­ni­ty to speak to the court about the case.

With Eyman still glar­ing at him, Judge Fer­gu­son then (with­out skip­ping a beat!) declared the pro­ceed­ings con­clud­ed and rose to return to his cham­bers.

A still-angry Eyman pro­ceed­ed to approach Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al Noah Pur­cell, one of Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son’s top staff mem­bers, and unleash a tor­rent of ver­bal abuse. Pur­cell was not intim­i­dat­ed and flat­ly told Eyman that he was wrong and that he should be grate­ful to the Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s staff for their out­stand­ing work in defense of Ini­tia­tive 976. I wit­nessed this exchange along­side The Asso­ci­at­ed Press’ Ted War­ren, who is a tal­ent­ed pho­tog­ra­ph­er.

Judge Fer­gu­son had pre­vi­ous­ly stat­ed at the out­set of the hear­ing that he intend­ed to rule on the request for a pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion to stay Ini­tia­tive 976’s imple­men­ta­tion lat­er on Tues­day or tomor­row (Wednes­day, Novem­ber 27th).

As no opin­ion has been released by Judge Fer­gu­son as of this evening, we can pre­sume that it will be pub­lished tomor­row.

I imag­ine that Judge Fer­gu­son is draft­ing his own writ­ten rul­ing as opposed to uti­liz­ing the pro­posed order sup­plied by the plain­tiffs.

Hav­ing now been a guest in Judge Fer­gu­son’s court­room for three hours, I can see why our Gov­er­nor appoint­ed him to the bench.

Judge Fer­gu­son is thought­ful, dili­gent, kind, and patient. It was evi­dent that he had read all of the briefs in this case thor­ough­ly. The judge occa­sion­al­ly flipped through what appeared to be a set of exten­sive notes on yel­low lined notepads as he for­mu­lat­ed ques­tions for Boies, Hack­ett, Segal, and Copsey to answer.

This did not escape the notice of the attor­neys work­ing on the case. Both sides com­pli­ment­ed Fer­gu­son on his prepa­ra­tion and atten­tion to their argu­ments.

Judge Fer­gu­son’s staff were equal­ly kind and set the exam­ple for appro­pri­ate con­duct with their pleas­ant demeanor. Fer­gu­son and his staff allo­cat­ed the jury box for the medi­a’s use, pro­vid­ing reporters a place to set up cam­eras and oth­er equip­ment. An over­flow room was also con­fig­ured to ensure that addi­tion­al seat­ing would be avail­able for mem­bers of the pub­lic who wished to observe.

What real­ly struck me about this oral argu­ment was how long it went. Judge Fer­gu­son was in absolute­ly no hur­ry at all. Instead of direct­ing the attor­neys to con­fine their pre­sen­ta­tions to say, twen­ty min­utes each, Fer­gu­son allot­ted around an hour for each side and built in a fif­teen-minute break halfway in.

Essen­tial­ly, Fer­gu­son opt­ed for thor­ough­ness over quick­ness. That result­ed in a hear­ing that took up the whole morn­ing. Despite its length, it was a much more sat­is­fy­ing hear­ing to wit­ness because the issues were so well cov­ered.

Regard­less of how Fer­gu­son rules tomor­row, it was appar­ent to me that he takes his role and respon­si­bil­i­ties as a judge seri­ous­ly. The peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton State can trust that Judge Fer­gu­son will think crit­i­cal­ly about these weighty mat­ters, and con­sid­er the argu­ments care­ful­ly before he issues an opin­ion.

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4 Comments

  1. Any video of this mis­be­hav­ior? Wow.

    I was in Fed­er­al Court on a civ­il mat­ter back in 7/2015, wrote the judge a let­ter, and want­ed to speak to object to the let­ter being nul­li­fied but had the pres­ence of mind to stay in my seat. Basic respect and deco­rum.

    File this away as anoth­er exhib­it in the case that Tim Eyman is not ready nor mature enough to be a Gov­er­nor of a State run by a con­sti­tu­tion.

    # by Joe :: November 26th, 2019 at 10:32 PM
    • Yes, we’ve added a video to the post of Eyman accost­ing Pur­cell.

      # by Andrew Villeneuve :: November 26th, 2019 at 10:33 PM
  2. Price­less video! I’d nev­er talk to an attor­ney that way, and I won­der if there’s video of Eyman going at it with a Judge.

    See I was in Fed­er­al Court on a civ­il mat­ter back in 7/2015, wrote the judge a let­ter, and want­ed to speak to object to the let­ter being nul­li­fied but had the pres­ence of mind to stay in my seat. Basic respect and deco­rum.

    File this away as anoth­er exhib­it or two or more in the case that Tim Eyman is not ready nor mature enough to be a Gov­er­nor of a State run by a con­sti­tu­tion.

    # by Joe :: November 26th, 2019 at 10:34 PM
  3. Price­less video! I’d nev­er talk to an attor­ney that way, and I won­der if there’s video of Eyman going at it with a Judge.

    Good stuff!

    # by Joe :: November 26th, 2019 at 10:36 PM

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