Washington State Bar Associate, Karen Unger, has filed a ‘show cause’ petition in Thurstan County Superior Court seeking to remove John Scannell, who is not a Washington State Bar Associate, from the ballot and end his quest for Washington State Supreme Court. John Scannell, as we reported May 21, is seeking to “dethrone her majesty, Susan Owens (a Washington State Bar), for the highest state court seat”. If Ms. Unger is successful in removing Mr. Scannell from the ballot, Queen Owens will be unopposed in this election and will retain her throne.
In an email from Ms. Unger, she claims Mr. Scannell, who was disbarred by the State Supreme Court, and “under the requirements of the Washington State Constitution he is not qualified to serve in that position.” Mr. Scannell has not yet replied to Ms. Unger’s petition. However, a “show cause” hearing is scheduled for June 1, 2018, 9AM to be heard before Judge Christopher Lanese — also a Washington State Bar Associate.
This should be an interesting hearing. Let me explain. Ms. Unger claims John Scannell is not qualified to hold judicial office because he doesn’t meet the requirements of Washington’s Constitution. I assume Ms. Unger refers to Article 4, SECTION 17 ELIGIBILITY OF JUDGES, which state, “No person shall be eligible to the office of judge of the supreme court, or judge of a superior court, unless he shall have been admitted to practice in the courts of record of this state, or of the Territory of Washington.”
However, in 1933, nearly 44 years after the adoption of Article 4, section 17, the Washington State Legislature enacted the Washington State Bar Act, RCW 2.48. The Bar Act is the legislation that created the Washington State Bar (WSBA) – an agency of the state per (RCW 2.48.010). From that point forward “all persons who are admitted to practice [law] in accordance with the provisions of RCW 2.48.010 through 2.48.180, except judges of courts of record, shall become by that fact active members of the state bar” as RCW 2.48.021 requires.
What the legislature has effectively done by enacting the Bar Act is to “swallow” Article 4, section 17 and change its requirement from “admitted to the practice of law” with “must be a member of the Washington State Bar”. Said another way, Under RCW 2.48, to “practice law” you must be a member of the Washington State Bar … to be a judge, under Article 4, sec 17, you must be admitted to the “practice of law”. Therefore only Bar Associates are admitted to the practice of law and therefore only Bar Associates can be candidates for judicial office.
What seems UNCONSTITUTIONAL is the legislation, RCW 2.48, that created the Washington State Bar. The Bar Act is unconstitutional for a host of reasons. Let’s start with, Article 12, SECTION 1 CORPORATIONS, HOW FORMED. It states, “Corporations (also “associations”) may be formed under general laws, but shall not be created by special acts”. Clearly the Bar Act is a special act creating a special association – the WSBA.
Next is the WSBA’s “monopoly” powers and privileges. To practice law, you must be a WSBA associate. To be a judge, you must be a WSBA associate … the Washington State Bar not only controls an entire branch of government, but every lawyer who practices law. Article 12 SECTION 22 MONOPOLIES AND TRUSTS makes it perfectly clear, “Monopolies and trusts shall never be allowed in this state, and no incorporated company, copartnership, or association of persons in this state shall directly or indirectly combine or make any contract with any other incorporated company,…”
Then we have the “privileges” enjoyed by associates of an unconstitutional association who have unconstitutional monopoly powers that no other association, corporation, or person can ever hope to have — which is, the total control of an entire branch of government that answers only to itself. This seems to violate Article 1, section 12 — “No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations”. NO OTHER person (a.k.a., John Scannell) is allowed to play in their sandbox, have total control of a branch of government, and get to be the rule-maker, interpreter, administer, and decision-maker of their own conduct as Ms. Unger is arguing to insure.
The question for our readers is this … Must we be restricted in our choice for judge to ONLY MEMBERS of an Agency of the State — the WSBA? Asked in another way, are we free to choose? … or are we forced to choose only a Bar Associate who has special privileges, powers, and monopoly control? That is a question concerning Article 1, SECTION 19 FREEDOM OF ELECTIONS. “All Elections shall be free and equal, and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.”
One thing is for sure — there is a constitutional violation being perpetrated!!!! Just my 2-cents.