The Thurston County Superior Court received Scheidler’s motion to intervene in Karen Unger’s petition to remove John Scannell from the ballot for Washington State Supreme Court. Ms. Unger claims Mr. Scannell is in violation of Article 2, section 17 and is not eligible to seek judicial office because Mr. Scannell has been disbarred by the Washington State Supreme Court in 2010. Scheidler is seeking to intervene in this case in support of Mr. Scannell’s candidacy. However the Thurston County Superior Court Clerk has not docketed (accepted) Scheidler’s motion as of the date of this story.
The essence of Scheidler’s motion, which seeks to dismiss Karen Unger’s challenge, is that Mr. Scannell has appeared on the ballot for Washington State Supreme Court Justice twice before. Scheidler notes the following facts in support of his motion to dismiss Ms. Unger’s petition.
In 2014, Mr. Scannell ran against incumbent justice, Debra Stephens, and garnered 351k votes, or 22%, in the general election. In 2016, Mr. Scannell ran against incumbent justice, Barbara Madsen, and garnered 76k votes, or 6%, in the primary election.
Both Debra Stephens and Barbara Madsen, as sitting Supreme Court justices, are bound by Article 4, SECTION 28 — OATH OF JUDGES, which states,
“Every judge of the supreme court, and every judge of a superior court shall, before entering upon the duties of his office, take and subscribe an oath that he will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Washington, and will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of judge to the best of his ability, which oath shall be filed in the office of the secretary of state.”
Neither Justice Stephens nor Justice Madsen petitioned for the removal of John Scannell from the ballot in these two previous elections. This is a significant fact because it is their solemn duty, by their constitutional oath, to uphold Article 4, section 17 and not aid in its violation. Now in 2018, plaintiff, Karen Unger, is taking a position that is directly opposite to the positions of Justice Stephens and Madsen by claiming Scannell’s candidacy is precluded by Washington Constitution!
Additionally, Justice Stephens, Madsen, and Unger are associates of an agency of the state, the Washington State Bar. As Bar associates they share the same constitutional and statutory obligations under RCW 2.48 – the Bar Act. The law mandates Bar Associates report Bar Associates who violate the rules of professional conduct or violate the code of judicial conduct. This is codified as RCW 2.48.230 which calls into statute, Rule 8.3 of the American Bar Association, which mandates (in part),
(a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority.
(b) A lawyer who knows that a judge has committed a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct that raises a substantial question as to the judge’s fitness for office shall inform the appropriate authority.
Scheidler claims these facts — that neither Justice Stephens nor Madsen filed a petition to remove John Scannell from the ballot in 2014 and 2016, when they are constitutionally obligated to do so if they believed Mr. Scannell was not “eligible” — can lead to only two conclusions that wouldn’t implicate both Justice Stevens and Madsen in criminal conduct – aiding and abetting in defrauding electors in 2014 and 2016. Those conclusions are either 1) John Scannell is not in violation of Article 4, section 17; or 2) the justices of the Washington State Supreme Court are “disqualifed due to conflict of interest”. If it is the latter case then Scheidler claims Mr. Scannell cannot possibly receive a fair hearing as there is no “judicial officer” who can “fairly and impartially” exercise the duty of his office since neither Stephens nor Madsen deemed themselves “fair and impartial”.
Mr. Scannell has not yet replied to Ms. Unger’s petition. However there is a show cause hearing scheduled June 1, 9AM, Thurston County Superior Court.