September 14, 2006
Gerry Alexander: Awful Chief Justice, dirty campaigner

The main reason to vote for John Groen against incumbent Gerry Alexander for the State Supreme Court is Alexander's long record of appalling decisions. Groen will do a better job of protecting our constitutional rights to limited, open and accountable government.

Another reason to unseat Alexander is his dirty, dishonest campaign. This week I interviewed his campaign chairman, Stuart Morgan, about the allegations Alexander is making against John Groen. Morgan, to be polite, could not persuasively justify the allegations. The allegations are meritless. This reflects poorly on Alexander himself.

The Alexander campaign issued this press release last week: "BUILDING INDUSTRY'S CAMPAIGN SHELL GAME REVEALED" (it appears to be the main source for Joel Connelly's recent P-I column). The headline allegation that the BIAW is trying to hide its tracks as the funding source of an independent campaign on behalf of John Groen is dishonest enough. The BIAW's affiliated PAC, ChangePAC's, spending is fully disclosed with the PDC and the BIAW issues press releases announcing that it's funding certain campaign ads.

What intrigued me even more about Alexander's press release was the allegation that

It may be legal, but it is entirely unethical and consistent with Mr. Groen's attempts to avoid compliance with any law he does not like."
Wow. And I thought a judge was supposed to assume that people were innocent of avoiding the law until proven guilty. So I called the fellow listed at the bottom of the press release, Alexander's campaign chairman and former clerk, Tacoma trial lawyer Stuart Morgan. I asked Morgan which laws Groen attempted to avoid. In all fairness, I'm sympathetic to Groen and skeptical of the allegations. But usually when I get past someone's public statements and speak with them directly, I gain some respect for their position and integrity. Not so with Stuart Morgan. First, he made a pathetic attempt to blow several tons of smoke up my ass (Morgan:"The preamble to the Code of Judicial Conduct states 'Our legal system is based on the principle that an independent, fair and competent judiciary will interpret and apply the laws that govern us.'. Me: "okay, but what laws is Groen avoiding?" Morgan, later, "Did you know that the BIAW gets public money?" [he's referring to the retro rebate program, and it's dishonest to characterize the voluntary payments as "public money']).

After I got past his obfuscation, Morgan could only come up with 3 specific accusations of Groen's "avoidance of the law"
1) Groen accepted perfectly legal campaign contributions before new limits went into effect. i.e. Groen did absolutely nothing wrong and this allegation was dismissed as meritless weeks ago.
2) Groen and the BIAW illegally coordinated their campaign efforts, specifically that BIAW filmed an ad featuring Groen with Groen's cooperation.
3) Morgan also pointed to this flyer from BIAW affiliate ChangePAC, which he said misrepresented Alexander's vote on the Sound Transit v. Miller case. Morgan says the flyer implies that Alexander voted to uphold Sound Transit's taking of the Miller's property when in fact Alexander dissented. And this would be in violation of the state Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 7(B)(1)(c)(iii)

knowingly misrepresent the identity, qualifications, present position or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent.
Although the flyer was issued by an independent committe and not by Groen or his campaign, Morgan feels that it still indicates that Groen himself avoided the law.

I followed up and spoke with Timothy Harris, General Counsel of the BIAW, to get his response to Morgan's allegations (2) and (3).
2) Harris denied that the BIAW and its affiliated PACs illegally coordinated with Groen on the ad in question or anything else. (The ad is posted here [MOV]). He explained that the footage of Groen was shot without Groen's involvement at a public candidate forum in Tacoma. Alexander was also at the event and they videotaped him too.
3) It's indisputable that Alexander dissented in the Miller case. His dissenting opinion is posted here. Harris pointed out what any careful reader of the dissent can see:

Because I believe that Sound Transit did not adequately inform affected parties before authorizing condemnation in this case, I dissent.
Alexander's dissent is based solely on Sound Transit's inadequate notice to the property owner. Alexander did not dissent from the majority on the other issue before the court, which is whether the taking was for a necessary public purpose. And that is the issue on which the flyer criticizes Alexander.

In other words Alexander's only basis for the serious allegation that his opponent "attempts to avoid compliance with any law he does not like" is that an independent campaign committee issued a statement with which Alexander has a difference of opinion. I think it's Alexander who's in violation of Canon 7(B)(1)(c)(iii). Maybe Alexander should just run on his record and justify his controversial rulings instead of flinging meritless accusations at his opponent.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at September 14, 2006 01:22 PM | Email This
1. There's a radio ad for Alexander that I've heard a few times that goes on about all the "special interest money" funding John Groen, and the expansive "smear campaign" that is being funded against Alexander. Every time I hear it, I can't help but think: "Wait a minute, this ad is the only thing I've heard or seen in this race that could be described as a 'smear campaign.'"

How deliciously ironic.

Posted by: The Tim on September 14, 2006 01:34 PM
2. Stephan,

Why don't you call the Thurston County Courthouse and confirm that Justice Alexander is going to be forced to testify about his criminal conduct on the bench as it relates to me?

The judge who made the ruling is Judge Stilz at 360-786-5562.

You can also confirm the same information with the deputy prosecutor, Miss Gwen Davis, at 360-754-3349.

If you are looking for another case about which to criticize Alexander, I suggest you read State v. Valentine. Alexander authored the opinion in which he stated that a person has no right to resist being brutally beaten by cops and that trying to fend off a brutal beating constitutes resisting arrest. In order to uphold the conviction, the WA SC had to ignore the self-defense statute and over-rule previous case law which permitted a person to resist an unlawful arrest.

Posted by: Don on September 14, 2006 01:40 PM
3. if anyone was listening to the Dave Ross Show this morning he interviewed Alexander and then Groen. Alexander went down an interesting road when he said that "Groen would have to be very careful and recuse himself anytime that the BIAW had an interest before the court if Groen was elected." Ross, in a moment of Socialist clarity followed up with "Judge Alexander to be fair, using that standard, aren't you supported by the Trail Lawyers? It stumped him, he could not answer the question. It was like you could hear the Gears not quite engaging. If you take Alexanders donation list and his penchant for recusal he couldn't sit on any cases involving any of the State Unions, Unions in general, the State of Washington (Thanks to the governor's direct support), The Tribes, The Trial Lawyers.
Gerry might as well retire now.

But to make up for it later with Groen, Ross jumped all over the guy for not controlling people doing outside expenditure "informational" ads against Alexander. Hmmm, I believe it is against the law for him to communicate in any fashion with those folks over "Informational Ads"
as it would be considered coordination.

Posted by: Smokie on September 14, 2006 02:04 PM
4. Slightly OT, but a quick perusal of the PDC records show that Michael Johnson, Richard Smith and Norman Ericson have had ZERO contributions, adding weight to the claims that they only filed in order to create confusion in the SC races.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on September 14, 2006 02:13 PM
5. Smokie: comment of the day! Good points.

Posted by: Michele on September 14, 2006 02:21 PM
6. Stefan,

It makes you wonder why the mainstream
republicans of Washington are backing
alexander.But then just about everything
they do is mind boggling.

Posted by: phil spackman on September 14, 2006 03:15 PM
7. Who are the mainstream Republicans backing Alexander ? I know that the BIAW is not ? That is hard to imagine and ridiculous if they actually are.

Posted by: KS on September 14, 2006 03:33 PM
8. Don't mind Phil. He's been stomping on the sour grapes so long, the fumes have gone to his head!

Posted by: katomar on September 14, 2006 03:51 PM
9. KS,

Who I'm talking is an honest to goodness
organization in the State of Washington
called Mainstream Republicans.They do have
a website if you check that out you will
see that they do indeed support Alexander.

Posted by: phil spackman on September 14, 2006 03:52 PM
10. Phil: So what?

There is also an honest to goodness organization in the State of Washington called the Klu Klux Klan. And who cares what and who either the KKK or Mainstream Republicans, or for that matter, you, endorse.

You intentionally wrote your comment to slander Republicans in general, when called on it, only then clarified that M R is an organization, not Republicans in general.

I have watched your posts for a year.

I will be delighted to step up to the plate, file the proper paperwork, and start a fund for the sole purpose of getting you professional help, Phil.

Posted by: Hank on September 14, 2006 04:03 PM

A different perspective from a conservative who visits your site occassionally; I am a businessman not an attorney so I listen to both Groen and Alexander on KVI and Kiro and I have to admit that Groen struck me a someone in way over his head. Smear tactics aside (the add Groen supporters have backed attempting to link Bobbi Bridge's problems to Alexander is lame, Groen has no experience and an agenda...a very bad combination for a judge whether a conservative or liberal. One poster asked what republican's are supporting Alexander so I went an looked at the web sites for each candidate. Groen has no endorsements, Alexander has a multitude from all politcal viewpoints..The Association of Washington Business' endorsement (not a liberal group by any means) should speak volumes to Alexander's election.."Although we've disagreed with him occasionally on the law, his record showed us that Chief Justice Alexander is a fair and impartial jurist who does not come to the bench with an agenda. We believe we can get a fair shake in front of him and that is the hallmark of a good judge."

Case closed. I cast my vote for Alexander this afternoon and put in the mail. Groen needs to run for a lower court position, get some experience and then run against Bobbe Bridge

Posted by: fred on September 14, 2006 04:03 PM
12. Hank,

I was talking about the Mainstream Republicans of
washington state.I was not now nor have I ever
Slandered republicans in general. Sure I have
taken to task republican organizations.If as
you say you have read my posts for over a year
you would know that I have been critical of
them in the past.Its an organization that I
really don't understand where there coming
from.What they do makes no sense at all.

Please tell me who I have slandered or lied
about. I would really like to know.

Posted by: phil spackman on September 14, 2006 04:20 PM
13. Mainstream Republicans are more new age followers than they are anything else. Remember
Gerry Alexander was originally appointed by former Governor, Dan Evans, Founder and designer of Evergreen State College. He also was a direct competitor of Fidel Castro. Then Evans grew a beard and they were tied. Alexander admitted when he was appointed that it wasn't what he knew, it was who he knew.Maybe that still stands.

Posted by: Ron Moss on September 14, 2006 04:31 PM
14. Is Judge Alexander the reason Rossi stopped his appeal at the Appellete Court? Or was it Chandler, Bridge, etc.?

Posted by: Ron Moss on September 14, 2006 04:36 PM
15. talk about campaigns!
i received a postcard voting message about Judge Gerry, Tom et al. it's a silly comic-book-looking scare theme about the opponents; looks like a senior h.s. kid's poly sci class project; no real meat or facts; just all color & flash like a rap pimp MTV video; and--sponsored by Tribes, union, and others; boy--did someone miss marketing the taxpaying, land-ownding Joe's out here who pay for government!!

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on September 14, 2006 04:36 PM
16. fred,

I doubt Antonin Scalia has ever cited any of Gerry Alexander's arguments. I doubt he's ever won a case against the Columbia Gorge Commission -- in fact, I know he hasn't because there's only one lawyer who has of many who have tried. How many cases did Alexander ever argue before the WA Supremes before he came one? (I'm not sure, but I'll bet it's fewer than Groen, if any). Jim Johnson and Richard Sanders have never looked to Alexander as "the guy we really need on the court."

Yes, Alexander has been a judge for a very long time -- just like Robert Byrd has been a senator for a very long time. If there's anyone on the court who doesn't understand what the job of a supreme court justice is all about, it appears to be Alexander.

If you're really a conservative like you say that you are, you marked your ballot wrong.

Posted by: TB on September 14, 2006 04:46 PM
17. Clarification: That was supposed to read, "I doubt Gerry Alexander has ever won a case against the Columbia Gorge Commission." (I don't know if Nino Scalia has ever been out to the real Washington... sorry that was unclear).

Posted by: TB on September 14, 2006 04:51 PM
18. Ding Ding Ding - I voted against the scoundral!

And I did remember to mark all the boxes on my ballot like a good little citizen.

But because I marked R I am sure it won't count in King County!

Posted by: GS on September 14, 2006 05:08 PM
19. Yeah, Alexander is such a raving looney that he is endorsed by Slade Gorton...

Posted by: Captain Wierd on September 14, 2006 05:11 PM
20. Wow Fred-
What a terrible job of masking your true political motives. That whole end of the post, including the "that's why I'll be voting for XX" summary, sounds EXACTLY like the summary line from those crappy union tv ads that featured "republicans" (actually hack actors) touting democrats last election cycle.

Is it possible you wrote those partisan hack ads too? Certainly sounds like it. My wife and I used to laugh out lout when we saw them on tv.

Posted by: johnny on September 14, 2006 05:14 PM
21. Alexander KNOWS he won't complete his term. He also KNOWS that Queen Christine will be appointing his successor. If he had any shred of conservatism in his soul he wouldn't be running again so as not to disrupt the court and would have gracefully retired at the end of his term. But Mr. Alexander knows exactly what he's doing.

Posted by: Tweedleedee on September 14, 2006 06:56 PM
22. Tweedleedee: If Alexander were re-elected, Mrs. Gregoire would appoint his successor only if either (a) he vacates the position within 2 years [low probability] or (b) Gregoire is elected Governor in 2008. Let's keep our eye on the ball and ensure that that is also a low probability event.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on September 14, 2006 07:07 PM
23. Because of King County Politics, Stefan, I'm sure selection B will the way....DINO 2008! PLEASE!!!

Posted by: Tweedleedee on September 14, 2006 07:16 PM
24. Make that "selection B will BE the way...DINO 2008! PLEASE!

Posted by: Tweedleedee on September 14, 2006 07:18 PM
25. by the way...what preempts Alexander from pulling the plug mid way through his term and just saying I'm retiring??? Is he legally bound to remain on the bench? I'm sticking to my thought's...I think Alexander is being very calculative.

Posted by: Tweedleedee on September 14, 2006 07:22 PM
26. Are we to believe there's separation of powers in Olympia? Anything Alexander and Gregoire will attempt should not come as a surprise.

As reported in The Times:

Gov. Christine Gregoire on Wednesday bemoaned the growth of special-interest spending in the Supreme Court races.

"I don't think they should be run with lots of money. I don't think they should be run with character assassination ads," Gregoire said. "It's demeaning to the positions they are running for. It's demeaning to the whole court."

Yet Gregoire herself has jumped into the fray by donating $15,000 to Citizens to Uphold the Constitution -- which supports Alexander -- through a PAC she controls called the Legacy Fund. In addition, Gregoire said she has called some potential donors and "opened up the door" for others to call them about contributions.

Posted by: Tyler Durden on September 14, 2006 08:51 PM
27. "Groen needs to run for a lower court position, get some experience and then run against Bobbe Bridge"

In that case Fred, there are 5 justices who shouldn't be there according to your own criteria.
Groen has argued 17 cases in front of the SC. No other sitting justics, including Alexander had that experience prior to becoming a justice.

Case closed indeed. I just mailed my ballot and Groen was my choice!

Posted by: pbj on September 14, 2006 09:09 PM
TB & Johnny

I have never voted for a democrat since I turned 18 in 1979 (expect once for Brian Sontag)..I understand that I am in the minority on this board re: Alexander but you all should be aware that not all republicans are marching in lock step to support Groen. And what the heck does Scalia and the columbia gorge commission have to do with this election? You lost me on those references...

And Johnny I also don't write political add, as Limbaugh says about running for office "why take a paycut" I've got a business to run so I can make money to buy gas for my 2 gas guzzling SUV's!

Posted by: fred on September 14, 2006 09:09 PM
29. I just saw a despicable TV ad against Judge Alexaner. It brought up Bobbi Bridge's drunk driving incident, and tried to imply that he supported her drunk driving. Talk about a dirty campaign. The ad had no relevance at all to any criteria I would use to judge a candidate. It was a cowardly, irrelevant and tasteless bit of slander. I'm sickened that Groen would sink to this so quickly. It's bitterly ironic to air this trash at the same time Mike McGavick is fighting an uphill battle against his own drunk driving "scandal."

Posted by: sstarr on September 14, 2006 10:30 PM
30. Alexander is generally a well respected jurist even if his political slant is, well, repugnant in the extreme. If a qualified candidate were running against him, it would be a completely easy vote. Unfortunately, Groen isn't qualified.

In the end, the choice for me (and I haven't marked my ballot yet) will be this: do I vote for the candidate who, despite some really idiotic decisions actually has a strong judicial background, or do I vote for someone on the theory that no matter who we vote for in this race we'll get a political hack so I may as well have my political hack on the bench at the SC. Unfortunately, Groen's lack of gravitas means this is a vote for or against Alexander, not for him, which means the decision I still have to make is whether Alexander really is a hack or whether he is instead a strong legal mind who just has a different read on the Constitution than I do in some crucial areas.

In the end, I'm very worried that whichever way I go I will be making the wrong choice. It's a real shame that Johnson isn't running against Alexander and Groen against Owens, because that would make this very, very easy to vote on simple politics.

Posted by: Marc on September 15, 2006 12:31 AM
31. Sstarr,

Unfortunately, Bridge is fair game. Even my leftist lawyer friends think she should have resigned because of her drunk driving issue. That she went on to rule on a drunk driving case after that should make her fair game from here on out and supporting her by Alexander absolutely fair game because it reflects on his judgement.

Posted by: Marc on September 15, 2006 12:35 AM
32. Marc at 31--agree; the integrity thing to do; at your point 30, well, you make good points; very logical, and i'd have to agree on most;

however, (as against Alexander) i go with patterns and extended history of actions; too many fell into my 'column B' for me to ignore; sometimes change is a disaster; that's the risk we all take every day with other matters; as for inexperience, like a new-hire at any company, one has to start somewhere & the hiring folk take a risk; we don't enter law immediately petitioning the SCOTUS;

Posted by: jimmiw-howya-doin on September 15, 2006 06:38 AM
33. sstar, you are forgetting the hit and run that came with it. That is the real issue here with Bridges and Alexander.

The biggest thing I hate is Alexander soliciting and getting an endorsement from the Democrats in a nonpartisan race.

It was explained to me 3 years ago that a party cannot endorse a candidate in a nonpartisan race, but that they use other means to get their message out.

It sounded good to me, so maybe someone should explain that to the judge.

Posted by: swatter on September 15, 2006 07:17 AM
34. I have voted Demcorat all my life and I know on this board that makes me enemy number one. But I just wanted to chime in on the lowblow ads being run by the Alexander campaign. As a Democrat I am thoroughly disgusted at the tactics Gerry Alexander will use to smear his opponent.

Alexander is past retirement. If he gets in he will be forcibly retired in the middle of his term, thus allowing potentially a Republican governor to fill the position with a politcal appointee.

No curent and former justices have ever argued 17 cases before the supre3me court prior to becoming justices, as has Groen. I find that impressive. ANd if never having ruled from the bench was a disqualification, I dare say many of the current justices would not be on the court today.

This Democrat is going to vote for Groen and I urge other true Democrats to do the same.

Posted by: Jim on September 15, 2006 09:34 AM
35. Sstar:

Your analysis of the ad using the Bobbe Bridge incident against Gerry Alexander is lacking some basic understanding of haw Supreme Court races are run. Most likely, this ad was run by a third party that has no affiliation with the Groen campaign. Additionally, the candidates in SC races are not supposed to know where from and how much money is donated to them, as well as where to and how much money is spent. It is a layer of insulation designed to keep the eventual winner from having to recuse themself from every case because of affiliation with some donor or prior campaign dealings.

Posted by: Geoff Morse on September 15, 2006 09:46 AM
36. Phil Spackman:

"If as you say you have read my posts for over a year you would know that I have been critical of
them in the past."

Yes, we also know that you've never offered even a shred of proof for ANY your scurrilous allegations against any individual or group.

That's called 'unsubstantiated' - the perfect description of every one of your posts.

Posted by: Larry on September 15, 2006 11:02 AM
37. Larry,

Just what scurrilous allegations are you refering
to? I have made nothing up I have what I consider
to be very reliable sources.What would you
consider to be substantiation.If you are wanting
me to name names that wont happen.

I don't reveal my sources and neither does
Stefan or any other blogger for that matter.

Posted by: phil spackman on September 15, 2006 01:58 PM
38. Jim,

Alexander is going to be forced into retirement within the next two months.

Posted by: Don on September 15, 2006 10:24 PM
39. Who is behind this phony telephone survey that pretends to ask opinions but really slams Alexander and Owens and brings up all the accusations that didn't work in the runoff election?? They mention the Building Industry and some service workers' union. Dirty work afoot!

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