October 24, 2006
Justice "No-Show" is a hypocrite

As noted earlier, Justice Susan Owens chickened out of yesterday's debate with challenger Sen. Stephen Johnson with the excuse that one of the idelogically balanced duo of moderators (me) had donated to Sen. Johnson's campaign. But Justice Owens saw no conflict in the moderator's campaign contributions when she appeared at a judicial forum in Kitsap County last month:

Incumbents Gerry Alexander, Susan Owens and Tom Chambers and their respective opponents, John Groen, Stephen Johnson and Jeanette Burrage, answered questions put to them by moderator Charlie Wiggins, a Bainbridge Island lawyer and former appeals court judge.
Wiggins was the sole moderator. He has donated $250 to Owens and $700 to Gerry Alexander.

UPDATE: As Richard Pope noted in the comments, Wiggins also represents "Citizens To Uphold the Constitution", a PAC which is campaigning for Owens

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at October 24, 2006 02:51 PM | Email This
1. Busted!!!!!! Soooo busted! This would make for a good letter to the editor.

Posted by: Michele on October 24, 2006 02:58 PM
2. Another liberal caught trying to have it both ways. But wait, she stands for nothing while standing for everything. Great convictions Judge Sue. I can't believe anyone with a mind would vote for a Liberal or a Democrat.

Posted by: Pat on October 24, 2006 03:15 PM
3. Pat, there are people that don't follow the news and keep up with all the details who tell me they will vote for Democrats because they think the Democrats will look after them more. And there is no amount of discussion that will change them. And these people are not the whack job left wing bloggers, but nice people who work for a living- the old blue collar workers.

Posted by: swatter on October 24, 2006 03:19 PM
4. Look, it's not that tough...

"There's one set of rules for you and a different set for me...quit being so petty."

As I keep saying, it's the divine right of moonbats.

Posted by: scott158 on October 24, 2006 03:32 PM
5. What were the moderator's questions?

I was all ready to give Stefan the benefit of the doubt and assume that he would have done a professional job as moderator. Then I read his juvenile, one-sided questions.

Posted by: Bruce on October 24, 2006 03:37 PM
6. So Bruce, Wayne, et al....care to comment?

It's apparently okay by Owens for a partisan moderator to appear who has donated to campaigns, as long as it's her campaign.

Posted by: Palouse on October 24, 2006 03:37 PM
7. From her press release:

Typically moderators are bona fide journalists bound by professional ethics and prohibited from direct involvement in a campaign. Because
one of the scheduled moderators of this event is not a journalist but very much an advocate for Johnson, we do not feel that it will be a
level playing field.

So she was okay with a partisan moderator who donated to her campaign earlier, but not this one because she knew she would face tough questions about her record.

Face it Bruce, she's a coward who doesn't want the public to know the truth about how she decides cases.

Posted by: Palouse on October 24, 2006 03:46 PM
8. So Bruce says he was ready to give Stefan the benefit of a doubt? Uh-oh, get ready. I think he's getting ready to sell us a bridge next.

Posted by: katomar on October 24, 2006 03:53 PM
9. I won't challenge that possiblity that cowardice played a role in Owens' decision to cancel at the last minute yesterday. But given the ads she is running and the way they misrepresent her positions, supporters, and alleged non-partisanship, what she really did yesterday was deny the voters an opportuntity to see the record set straight and learn the truth. That is far more wrong than simply being afraid of losing a debate, because that goes to the heart of her respect, or lack thereof, in the voters and their right to hear both sides in such an important election.

If I was on the fence before her recent action, I wouldn't be on the fence today. Anyone who refuses to allow, or takes steps to deny the voters their right to become more informed is unworthy for elected office, especially when the candidate believes their rulings and agenda are too important to base solely on the law or the facts.

Posted by: MJC on October 24, 2006 03:58 PM
10. prohibited from direct involvement in a campaign.

Depends on what the meaning of the word "direct" is.

Posted by: Obi-Wan on October 24, 2006 03:58 PM
11. Katomar, I certainly think Stefan is smart enough to write serious, objective questions that challenge both sides fairly. And I actually thought he cared enough about being perceived as a serious journalist. So when I saw he had posted his questions, I thought, "Clever -- he's going to prove that she was wrong to call him biased." Then I read the questions.

Posted by: Bruce on October 24, 2006 04:06 PM
12. Swatter,

If you want to convert those Dems to vote against Owens, first ask them if they liekd when the Supreme Court ruled to allow the legislature to make up emergencies such as the way they overrode the public vote to put in Safeco field by declaring and "emergency".

Then tell them Owens voted for that ruling.

Posted by: pbj on October 24, 2006 04:17 PM
13. Bruce--Stefan juvenile? You didn't just see what Owens just tried to get away with, here? I'd call her kind of disingenuous reasoning for no-showing way beneath the dignity of a supreme court justice.

Posted by: Michele on October 24, 2006 04:24 PM
14. Bruce, as I said in the last thread -- the fact that you simply disparage my questions without addressing their substance reveals that you have little confidence in your candidate's ability to give satisfactory answers.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on October 24, 2006 04:48 PM
15. Now, pbj (12), be fair. The baseball stadium emergency ruling was in 1996. Owens had nothing to do with it. She didn't join the court until 2001

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on October 24, 2006 04:52 PM
16. So justice Owens claims she cant debate because one of the moderators is one sided. I went to a debate in Olympia on Sunday that was far more than one sided. It was a debate on the war in Iraq and the only moderator was an TESC professor (Peter Bohmer), hardly a modrate. the two opponents where Jed Whittaker (Peter Bohmers friend) and Republican Michael Messmore, Brian Baird declined to come and instead waved signs in Vancouver. Even though the odds were set for the Anti-War crowd Michael Messmoe still showed up and debated. And let me tell you the questions were more of anti-war/pro Lt Watada statements.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on October 24, 2006 04:57 PM
17. Well, I just saw an endorsement for Susan Owens that definitely made it easy to vote AGAINST her.
In today's King County Journal a letter to the editor with Owen's Supporters Endorsement was published.

Looking at Owen's supporters, Philip Talmadge, Faith Ireland, Charles Smith and Robert Utter should give anyone enough evidence to vote for anyone but her.

In their letter they praise her for dissenting in some of the worst decisions that they too were involved with making. They want to give her cover for decisions that were made while she was a justice on the state Supreme Court.

So besides being a No-Show hypocrite, she is also being given cover by her liberal, activist judge friends.

Posted by: Skeptic on October 24, 2006 05:07 PM
18. Bruce -

Owens is a sitting justice on the State Supreme Court, what's Stefan supposed to ask her about instead of some of its rulings, whether or not she likes the curtains?

Posted by: Eric Earling on October 24, 2006 05:40 PM
19. OK....enough of us regulars stating the obvious about that cowardly, poor excuse for a Supreme Court Justice who by the way...uses pictures that appear WAAAAAAAAAAAY more than 5 years old:

She is:
1) A woman
2) An attorney
3) Married to the devil himself (Stefan)
......not necessarily in that order!

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on October 24, 2006 06:19 PM
20. Bruce, all you've done is complain about Stefan's questions. I thought they were good questions to controversial decisions.

Why not pick one of Stefan's questions and rewrite it for us to show all of us how it should be done? I'm curious about what the difference would be.

Or, are you saying that you wouldn't have even asked those questions - in any form?

Posted by: SouthernRoots on October 24, 2006 06:27 PM
21. Yup....it is time for Mrs. Shark to enlighten us.
By the way, when Owens was elected in 2000, she pulled the same stunts. She hardly debated ever.
She was told to STFU and allow the Lefty Groups and the Emily's List Crowd to get her elected.
That crowd was very much afraid of what might happen if:
a) People saw what a trainwreck this woman looks like.
b) how inarticulate and uninformed she is.

They are trying the very same tactics in this race. That's why it is too bad Johnson dodged her...no matter who the Moderator was.
It's getting very late in the game. Vote-by-mail is well underway. I'm afraid Owens has successfully dodged needed scrutiny AND accountability once again.

Maybe next time?!

Posted by: dude on October 24, 2006 06:31 PM
22. Hey does anyone have the latest on the Cantwell/ Dotzauer divorce records grand reopening? Wasn't that supposed to be today? Does the IRS need to be headed to Snohomish County to talk with Ron? Will Maria return to Real Networks? Will Ron divorce his third wife and rekindle the flame of love? Will Maria pay to get his records sealed yet again? Tune in tomorrow as Maria asks the question "Was giving Ron a slice a week before the wedding wrong?"

Posted by: Smokie on October 24, 2006 06:33 PM
23. Stefan, you are such a meanie! How dare you ask difficult questions or challenge a SUPREME court judge. How in the world does she make decisions in her court room? Will we now have to diclose our political contributions before she will consider our case? This issue reflects poorly on Susan Owens and portrays to me that:
A. Her decision making is influenced by political contributions and affiliations.
B. She knows she can't defend her record in a way that will appeal to the majority of the voting public.
C. She doesn't think well on her feet.

On the other hand, Stephen Johnson went to a WSU football game to meet potential voters, one on one. He took them as they came and he was willing to discuss the issues, right then and there. I can't tell you how impressed I am with any candidate who is willing to handshake and discuss his opinions with regular people, in a non-structured event.

Posted by: Elaine on October 24, 2006 08:17 PM
24. Isn't Charles Wiggins involved with the "Citizens to Uphold the Constitution" PAC? The liberal group with lots of big dollar funding that backs the re-election of Tom Chambers, Gerry Alexander, and Susan Owens?


Two months ago, I searched the internet to try and figure out exactly WHO was involved with CTUTC. The only names I could find were Wiggins and former WSBA President Ron Ward.

You still can't find out from the CTUTC website the identity of ANYONE involved with their organization. They merely state: "members include former bar association presidents, community leaders, law professors and elected officials".


Posted by: Richard Pope on October 24, 2006 08:18 PM
25. Swatter: I don't know any right minded person that wants Gov't "looking out for them". All Americans should want Gov't to protect us from our enemies and stay the hell out of the rest of our lives. Democrats want to redistribute wealth to those who have made poor decisions with their lives from the rest of us who bust our buns to have what we want. Christine and her Democrat Party have run this State forever and they are responsible for all the ills we have to navigate every day. Who in the hell has been in charge of the DOT and their funding??? Democrats. Do you think roads are their priority. NO. The new road proposal wish list is all contingent on YES votes for Sound Transit projects. One fails, they both fail. That is democracy??? Since when? Your choice is everything the Dems want or nothing. What BS. I'm thinking about buying 5 acres in King County and getting a building permit for a house and then clear cutting the 5. Ron Sims might send someone to arrest me because he doesn't want people to use THEIR land in any way he doesn't approve of. You just have to love Democrats, right? Get ready for burkas ladies.

Posted by: Pat on October 24, 2006 08:19 PM

This ought to answer your question!
Dotzauer is F*CKED!!!
Cantwell might be too.
What a Soap Opera!!!

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on October 24, 2006 08:47 PM
27. Sooooooooo

Dotzauer's current wife Ms First is denying the loan?

from PI (last paragraph)
"First refused to answer questions about the money, first suggesting she didn't know what a reporter was talking about, and then adding: "Ask Sen. Cantwell. We didn't list it. She did."


Posted by: chris on October 24, 2006 08:57 PM
28. Y'all are giving Bruce too much of your attention. Picture a guy in the back yard, throwing a ball for his dog to catch.

Y'all are playing fetch, and being played.

Posted by: South County on October 24, 2006 09:00 PM
29. South County: If we ignore the Bruce's and Ivan's, they will post the same thing, over and over, on every thread, no matter the topic. By replying, we keep them in one place and on one thread. It's an illogical strategy, but if it works on two year olds, why not here?

Posted by: Elaine on October 24, 2006 09:43 PM
30. "...now YOU hide and I'LL count to 10!..."
Dear Justice:
...this works for kids, but not important elected positions...want my vote? come out of the shadows.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on October 24, 2006 10:13 PM
31. What you're going to read that Liberal POS?

Try reading this article in the PI instead.
It actually talks about something a little bit more important than Maria throwing a job and some money to a friend.


I think that we should require the military recruiters to work the evangelical churches or take away their exemptions.

But that's right, all those Evangelicals are the first ones to put up THEIR sons and daughters as they hawk us into another Holy war.


Posted by: danw on October 24, 2006 10:28 PM
32. Stefan et al have asked me specifically why his questions went beyond the bounds of serious, challenging questions which I agree are appropriate.

Question 1 starts with a monologue about how great Warren was, but the question is not whether (a) he was great or (b) whether that fact means experience is unimportant, but rather (c) which of Warren's rulings have influenced them. So taken literally, the monologue is an argument unrelated to the question. Of course we all know why the monologue is there: to make the question essentially "Tell us how someone who Owens thinks shouldn't have been a judge was a great judge" -- the exact parallel to "When did you stop beating your wife?".

Questions 2, 3, 8, and 9 are actually decent questions, aside from the juvenile "Mrs. Gregoire" in #3. My apologies for saying they were all bad.

Questions 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10 cited an Owens decision and stated the arguments against it, but not those for it. If you were interviewing Owens, those would be reasonable questions. But in a debate, you should state the best argument in favor of each decision and ask Johnson why it's wrong. A real journalist makes a genuine effort to understand all sides to a story, even if he has an opinion on which side is right. And a real moderator asks both sides challenging questions.

OK, now let's get empirical. What were Joel Connelly's questions? Were they as challenging and argumentative toward Johnson as yours were toward Owens? And (if he published his questions that he would have asked Owens) were they big fat softballs the way your questions to Johnson were?

Stefan, I think you viewed this as a 2-on-2 debate -- Sharkansky+Johnson vs. Connelly+Owens -- rather than a 1-on-1 debate with 2 moderators. That's not how debates normally work, and (unless Connelly and the candidates all understood that it would work like that) it would be unfair for you to treat it that way.

I'm mystified why Owens accepted the invitation in the first place. Maybe she assumed you would play fair. Since you have been honest enough to post your questions, future candidates won't make that mistake.

Posted by: Bruce on October 24, 2006 10:59 PM
33. As for Dope on rope Pope at 24

Maybe as private citizens they don't want the sleaze like you and the guppy prying into their personal lives in attempt to ruin them.
(Hey maybe that's why they want to protect the constitution?)
As for you, you ARE running for office, and when you put up sign with your name on them enough time, you gain name recognition.
At least this time you were smart enough not to put the (R) like your pals Mike! and Sheriff Hairdo don't want to do either.

So why is it that Goldy likes you? I don't know. You're an often reprimanded attorney, and a perenial candidate for any position out there.
This probably leads to your failure to give adequate council to your clients. (I'd love to see your referral list, mostly from jail I suspect) Goldy must relate to you because you are both single fathers.

But you are a Candidate. So did you kill your wife, or beat or cheat on her? Are your divorce or murder trial papers open for us to look at?
Where can I go look them up, and get them published?

You want to be a Judge with those qualifications?
What is it a Daddy Bush thing? You want to get back at them for beating the hell out of an unqualified attorney as a Judge?
Come on Repugs, we know you love money more than anything, can you imagine the cost of appeals from this judges rulings?
Any attorney would be a fool not to file on a Pope ruling, the odds are in their favor, he does not know the law and is most likely wrong.

Come on, how about a little public disclosure on you. Let everyone know that you are a professional candidate with a worse record than the 62 Mets. You have multiple reprimands for failures in court, and that you beat your wife.

I can't believe that those little red signs are doing the trick for you. It is definetely not your ACTUAL qualifications.

I think if you get in, It just shows how lazy the populice is in finding out about the candidates.

I think I will file my grievance now, that your signs are still out on the streets well after the time, by Law (the thing your running for, in case you didn't know) need to be removed.
I think those come with a cash penalty per sign.

Yours and the guppies dirty sleaze hunts, make it why good people don't run for office. Then we are left with the likes of you.


Posted by: danw on October 24, 2006 11:19 PM
34. Bruce, thank you for at least raising the level of the discussion about my questions. But you are still wrong. You call my questions about Owens' rulings "big fat softballs" to Johnson. They are written from my point of view. But they are only softballs to Johnson if you assume that (1) Johnson agrees with me in every case, (2) my spin on these rulings is both factually correct and likely to resonate with public opinion, and (3) that Owens does not have a good comeback.

First of all, I didn't know before the debate, whether Johnson agreed with me on every single one of these issues. I haven't heard all of these rulings discussed in the campaign. Furthermore, by the rules that we agreed to before the debate, BOTH candidates would have had to answer every question. If Owens was prepared with a good defense of her own rulings, these could have been softballs for HER.

Somehow, though, you seem to assume that she would not have been able to answer these questions successfully. You don't have much confidence in your candidate's intellect, do you?

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on October 24, 2006 11:25 PM
35. Stefan, when your question is essentially "Here's why Owens was wrong; please comment", that's a big fat softball.

You didn't address any of the other criticisms or questions I raised.

Posted by: Bruce on October 24, 2006 11:57 PM
36. Let's be honest, Stefan's direct contribution wasn't the point. That he can't be trusted to be moderate and that Owens feared (rightly) that she was walking into a televised ambush (ala Johnson's fear of the Stranger) is more to the point.

Posted by: watcher on October 25, 2006 09:13 AM
37. danw: "Yours and the guppies dirty sleaze hunts, make it why good people don't run for office. Then we are left with the likes of you."

wait--we DO have good people in office--LA Congressman Freezer Cash. how about former Mayor Berry in DC? MR Barney Frank? all upstanding role models. all "victims of the Right," not of 'the right choices,' correct?

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on October 25, 2006 10:01 AM
38. Gee. Connelly mentions NOTHING about Owens' no-show in today's column. If Johnson had done so, you know he would have.

The P-I is trash.

Posted by: Concerned Citizen on October 25, 2006 11:13 AM
39. Bruce -

I believe that your "wife beating" analogy is not on point, with respect to Stefan's questions.

Questions like the "wife beating" one are traps because they include an implied and unsupported supposition (e.g., wife beating has occurred). In a court of law, questions like this are called "Alluding to a fact not in evidence",

( http://www.abanet.org/genpractice/magazine/2001/sep/conner.html )

and lawyers are prohibited (Rule 3.4 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct) from asking them.

Any response to such a question, other than telling the questioner "I reject your supposition", springs the trap, because a response will imply acceptance of the supposition. Ignoring the questioner, or stating a refusal to answer the question, will have the same result.

But Questions 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10 do, in fact, "allude to a fact in evidence", that fact being Owens' rulings and votes, which are a matter of public record.

I fail to see how asking Owens to discuss, or to explain, the positions she has publically taken can be considered unfair, inappropriate, or not serious.

Hypothetically, if a jurist had ruled that wife-beating was not a practice prohibited by the state constitution, would it be unfair, inappropriate, or not a serious question, to ask him to explain his reasoning, or to discuss how his ruling is consistent with the traditional understanding of human rights?

Bruce, is it your position that the WSSC's ruling in Washington State Farm Bureau et al v Sam Reed (Question 7), which gutted our right to referendum (explicitly granted by the state constitution) is a non-issue? Or that any questioning of it is frivolous?

I believe it's a very serious issue, and one that most people care about, whether pro or con. A public discussion of the issue by Owens and Johnson would likely have contrasted the difference between amending the state constitution by judicial fiat, as opposed to the legislative procedure defined in the constitution.

Moving to Question 1, I believe you mischaracterized it. It contains no "monologue about how great Warren was". There is a factual statement about Warren's experience prior to, and about, his appointment as Chief Justice of SCOTUS, followed by a weak statement that "...many Americans would probably cite Justice Warren as one of the most progressive and influential Chief Justices in modern times."

The Warren example is on point, because it speaks directly to the claim made by Owens in her campaign literature that she is better-qualified because she has experience on the bench and Johnson doesn't.

You claim that the question is designed to "Tell us how someone who Owens thinks shouldn't have been a judge was a great judge".

How do you know what Owens thinks about Warren? What evidence do you have that Owens thinks Warren shouldn't have been a judge?

The weak statement about "...many Americans think..." is irrelevant; even if taken at face value, the counterclaim would be equally valid ("many Americans would probably not cite Warren", etc). Nor does the statement makes any attempt to put words about Warren in Owens' mouth (e.g., "When did you stop claiming that Warren is unqualified?").

Also, you misstated the question when you wrote "...but the question is...rather (c) which of Warren's rulings have influenced them."

The actual question was "Which of Justice Warren's rulings that have influenced your understanding of justice and have guided (or) will guide your work on the state Supreme Court?

The question is plain, and it is open-ended. It permits a positive or negative response (e.g., "I was appalled by Warren's callous disregard for human rights, and that influenced me to serve on the Supreme Court, so that I could undo some of the damage he did."), and thus allows the person to respoond any way they see fit.

Finally, I question your characterization of this event as a debate:

"Questions 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10 cited an Owens decision and stated the arguments against it, but not those for it. If you were interviewing Owens, those would be reasonable questions. But in a debate, you should state the best argument in favor of each decision and ask Johnson why it's wrong. A real journalist makes a genuine effort to understand all sides to a story, even if he has an opinion on which side is right. And a real moderator asks both sides challenging questions."

Your statement about how a debate should be conducted seems to refer to formal debating, where a position is stated (e.g, "Resolved: Eating the rich is the answer to society's problems."), and the participants then take turns arguing pro and con, and rebutting the opposing arguments.

While Stefan does refer to this event as a debate, it clearly was not a formal debate. Nor was it even an informal debate, where an issue would be put before the candidates, and they could argue whichever side of it they pleased.

Stefan's post clearly indicates that this event was question & answer; in other words, an interview. There are references to Stefan and Josh as interviewers, an interview panel, and Stefan's statement that if he had it to do over, he "...would have told the Johnson campaign that Josh and I would be there on Monday evening to interview whichever candidates chose to show up...".

And there are many, many references to questions, questioners, and the questioning.

You stated that Questions 4-7 & 10 would be reasonable in an interview, and Owens and Johnson both agreed to the rule that both would answer all of the questions asked by the panel.

You stated that you think Stefan viewed this event as a "2 on 2 debate" rather than a "normal" "1 on 1 debate". How do you know what Stefan was thinking? Given the emphasis on question/-s/-ers/-ing, do you still feel that "debate" is an accurate description?

And if the event was an interview, and not a debate, do you have any remaining objections?

Posted by: ewaggin on October 26, 2006 02:19 AM
40. Posts like that are why I like reading this blog.

Impressive ewaggin. Well done.

Posted by: Palouse on October 26, 2006 07:58 AM
41. granted, debates are not equivalent to courtroom procedures, but i'd be curious to see how many "no-show" clients and attorneys are reprimanded/lectured by "No ShOw-ens" in her own courts. does she get offended when they do not show in her courts? why souldnt we get offended when she courts our vote in absentia?

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on October 26, 2006 11:12 AM
42. The Times endorsed Johnson today...

That's Reichert, McGavick and Johnson. I might faint.

Posted by: Palouse on October 26, 2006 11:17 AM
43. Correction on the donations level. look closer and you'll see Wiggins donated $700 then his wife Nancy donated $700 more the same day. The wife did not match the donation to Owens. So the leanings of Wiggins are at a rate of $1,400 to $250.

Posted by: Greg on October 26, 2006 07:51 PM
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?