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, December 15th, 2020

At his trial, Tim Eyman tried to get out of wearing a mask by saying he has ADHD

Today, dis­hon­est ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman appeared as a wit­ness in his own defense against the charges brought against him by Wash­ing­ton State Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, who is try­ing to hold Eyman account­able for repeat­ed­ly and bla­tant­ly vio­lat­ing our state’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws.

After tak­ing his place in the wit­ness box, Eyman asked Judge James Dixon if he could take his mask off. Eyman, an extreme­ly vocal oppo­nent of mask wear­ing, claimed that wear­ing a mask dis­tracts him. Eyman attempt­ed to jus­ti­fy his request by telling the court he has Atten­tion Deficit Hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty Dis­or­der (ADHD).

Judge Dixon ini­tial­ly said yes, con­tin­gent upon on Eyman mov­ing his seat back and keep­ing a suf­fi­cient dis­tance from oth­ers in the courtroom.

But the state’s legal team object­ed, not­ing that there’s a pan­dem­ic rag­ing and that masks are one of the few ways peo­ple can reduce their risk of con­tract­ing or spread­ing SARS-CoV­‑2, the virus that caus­es COVID-19, while out in public.

Judge Dixon held that the state’s objec­tion was well tak­en, and direct­ed Eyman to put his mask back on while assur­ing the failed guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date that the court was will­ing to allow more fre­quent breaks in the proceedings.

Pub­lic health experts and doc­tors say there are only a few types of con­di­tions that would war­rant exempt­ing some­one from mask wear­ing require­ments, like facial defor­mi­ties that are incom­pat­i­ble with masking.

“Inap­pro­pri­ate med­ical exemp­tions may inad­ver­tent­ly has­ten viral spread and threat­en pub­lic health,” explained Dr. Mical Raz, a pro­fes­sor in pub­lic pol­i­cy and health at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Rochester, in a July 10th com­men­tary.

Those who are tru­ly unable to wear masks at all for legit­i­mate med­ical rea­sons are advised to quar­an­tine at home, doc­tors say.

“These are the extreme patients where any change in oxy­gen and car­bon diox­ide could make a dif­fer­ence,” not­ed Albert Riz­zo, MD, chief med­ical offi­cer for the Amer­i­can Lung Asso­ci­a­tion, in an inter­view with Web­MD. But, he adds: “That’s also the pop­u­la­tion that should­n’t be going out in the first place.”

“A med­ical­ly nec­es­sary exemp­tion from mask­ing is con­sid­ered a dis­abil­i­ty mod­i­fi­ca­tion under the Amer­i­cans With Dis­abil­i­ties Act (ADA),” Dr. Raz says.

“Indi­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties have clear­ly defined legal pro­tec­tions under both fed­er­al and state law… A rea­son­able dis­abil­i­ty mod­i­fi­ca­tion might be a mask­ing exemp­tion, but this is not the sole rem­e­dy. Amid a glob­al pan­dem­ic, rea­son­able accom­mo­da­tions for mask­ing intol­er­ance can and should include avoid­ance mea­sures, such as curb­side ser­vices and delivery.”

Tim Eyman may find wear­ing a mask annoy­ing and irk­some. But mask wear­ing is essen­tial to reduc­ing the risk of con­tract­ing and spread­ing COVID-19.

Eyman’s unfound­ed request for an exemp­tion is a reminder of how incred­i­bly self­ish he is. He would rather jeop­ar­dize the health of peo­ple around him than be incon­ve­nienced by a “dis­tract­ing” face cov­er­ing. He does have the right to apply for a dis­abil­i­ty mod­i­fi­ca­tion under the ADA. But any mod­i­fi­ca­tion can­not and should not put oth­er peo­ple at risk of con­tract­ing COVID-19.

We all have to deal with unpleas­ant sit­u­a­tions at one point or anoth­er in our lives. For Eyman, this is one of those times, and he has no one to blame but him­self, for he is in a mess of his own mak­ing. If Eyman had­n’t stonewalled in the extreme going back sev­er­al years, this tri­al could have been held years ago, before the pan­dem­ic hit, and he would have been able to tes­ti­fy maskless.

Eyman’s tri­al, inci­den­tal­ly, is a bench tri­al. That means there is no jury for Eyman to per­form for. In this case, Judge Dixon the tri­er of fact as well as the tri­er of the law. Eyman is rep­re­sent­ed by the conser­vo-lib­er­tar­i­an for­mer State Supreme Court Jus­tice Richard Sanders, who often wrote dis­sent­ing opin­ions argu­ing that Eyman’s bla­tant­ly uncon­sti­tu­tion­al ini­tia­tives were constitutional.

After both sides have fin­ished mak­ing their case, Dixon will hear clos­ing argu­ments. Those could be pre­sent­ed either lat­er week or after the Christ­mas hol­i­day. Dixon has already ruled against Eyman at sev­er­al key junc­tures dur­ing the case, though he has not yet grant­ed the key relief that Fer­gu­son is seek­ing: a mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar finan­cial penal­ty and a order bar­ring Eyman from engag­ing in future mon­ey machi­na­tions with­out the approval of anoth­er individual.

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One Comment

  1. Most dis­senters cite breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties for not wear­ing masks. ADHD is a new one.

    # by Mike Barer :: December 16th, 2020 at 7:12 AM
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