Tim Eyman frowns
Tim Eyman frowns at a press conference in Olympia (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

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:


This Court has juris­dic­tion over this mat­ter pur­suant to RCW ch. 2.08, RCW ch. 7.24, and RCW 7.40.010.

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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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