An attempt by several friends of Tim Eyman to intervene in the legal challenge against Eyman’s Initiative 976 ended in unsurprising failure today when Washington State’s highest court issued an order dismissing their action.
With Eyman’s blessing, Clint Didier, Matthew Morrell, Kevin Heinen, John Logue, and Parker Olsen had put their names on a complaint drafted by theoconservative lawyer Stephen Pidgeon that demanded a change of venue in the I‑976 case.
More specifically, Eyman’s pals wanted the Washington State Supreme Court to yank the case out of King County Superior Court and assert jurisdiction.
However, since Eyman’s pals have a very poor understanding of the law (and not merely constitutional law, but the law in general) their action never had a chance. It deserved to be promptly laughed out of the Temple of Justice.
And today, it was. (Figuratively speaking.)
Below you can read Pidgeon’s complaint, which makes a lot of nonsensical arguments that are wholly unsupported and without foundation.Clint Didier’s baseless attempt to intervene in I‑976 legal challenge
Now, here’s the Court’s order dismissing their action.Supreme Court order dismissing Clint Didier’s action
Tim Eyman and his pals have repeatedly tried to argue that King County Superior Court is not a proper venue for the legal challenge against Initiative 976 (Garfield County Transportation Authority et al v. State of Washington) because King County is a plaintiff in the case and Judge Marshall Ferguson (who was assigned the case) was appointed to the bench by Governor Jay Inslee.
This is an absurd, patently ridiculous argument.
King County judges hear cases every day in which King County is a party. For example, when King County brings a criminal case against a person who committed a crime in King County, a King County judge hears that case, and is the trier of fact.
Criminal defendants do have the right to a jury trial and to have their guilt determined by a jury of their peers, but such cases are still presided over by a judge who draws their salary from the same county that is paying the prosecutor to bring the case. And of course, if a defendant cannot afford an attorney of their own, then a public defender is provided at public expense.
Motions for a change of venue in a civil or criminal case are not unheard of, but such motions are typically only granted in extraordinary circumstances.
Court rules spell out what those circumstances are.
For instance, the rules pertaining to when a change of venue is acceptable in a criminal proceeding for courts of limited jurisdiction are here.
King County is an appropriate venue for the I‑976 legal challenge and the plaintiffs explained why in the very first pleading they filed with the Court, which states:
Venue is proper in this Court pursuant to RCW 4.92.010 because the residence or principal place of business of one or more of the Plaintiffs is in King County, Washington.
Tim Eyman may not like that state law prescribes King County Superior Court as a proper venue for a case like this, but our courts do not operate according to Tim Eyman’s whims and wishes. Our courts exist to interpret the law, not make it.
By Tim Eyman’s logic, this case cannot be fairly heard in any court of the State of Washington, including the Supreme Court, because the State is a defendant in this case and all judges and justices are members of the state judiciary.
Our State Supreme Court justices are paid salaries by the same jurisdiction that is defending the lawsuit against Initiative 976: the State of Washington.
But that is not a conflict of interest for the same reason that it’s not a conflict of interest for a King County judge to decide a civil matter in which King County is a plaintiff, or a criminal matter King County is prosecuting.
The judiciary is an independent, coequal branch of our government. It is not part of the executive or legislative branches. It is separate.
Judges have a solemn responsibility to interpret the law in accordance with the Constitution, and they take that responsibility seriously.
When you think critically about Tim Eyman’s arguments, they fall apart pretty fast.