11301 NE 7th St, Apt J5
Vancouver, WA 98684
|Dear Mr. Callner:||
July 9, 2006
Thank you for your response of June 30, 2006. I understand that your commission is restricted to matters related to ethical violations by Washington State judges. The Code of Judicial Conduct requires that 'Judges should respect and comply with the law', Canon 2 (A) as well as 'be faithful to the law' Canon 3 (A) (1). As such I would like to request that your Commission initiate a screening investigation of Clark County Superior Court Judges Johnson, Nichols, and Harris as well as other judges who may have knowingly violated the requirements of Washington State Constitution. Further, 'Judges should accord to every person ... full right to be heard according to law' Canon 3 (A) (4)'. I would like to request that your Commission initiate a screening investigation of Court of Appeals Judges Penoyar, Bridgewater, and Hunt who appear to have intentionally avoided addressing the issues related to this violation of Washington State Constitution.
In an effort to simplify and speed processing of Domestic Violence cases in Clark County (an admirable goal), the Clark County Superior Court appointed all the District Court judges as Superior Court Commissioners to avoid the restrictions of RCW 26.50.020 (5). That would be fine except that Washington State Constitution, Article IV, Section 23 limits the appointment of such Commissioners in any given county to 'not exceeding three in number' and Clark County Superior Court appointed nine. The numeric limits on the number of Commissioners is hardly a fundamental civil right in and of itself. Indeed, had the voters chosen to eliminate that limit when the issue was raised in 1981, this would have been within the discretion of the court. However, knowingly violating the requirements of the constitution created a need for secrecy and restrictions on appeal which aggravated their violations of the law.
The Court of Appeals was made aware of these appointments in Case 32671-0-II with a question of:
Can the Superior Court in any given county make more than three valid simultaneous appointments of Commissioners who aren't Family Court Commissioners? The trial court answered in the affirmative.
and the record included copies of Orders appointing four Commissioners who weren't Family Court / Law Commissioners. The response of the Court of Appeals was:
Carr argues that his due process rights and his right to have a judge adjudicate his case were violated because Clark County allegedly appointed more than three court commissioners. However, a family law commissioner is not a "commissioner" within the meaning of the constitutional provision limiting the number of court commissioners in counties.
The Court of Appeals simply ignored the question before it and answered a well understood question which was not relevant to the case at hand. While the correction of improperly appointed Commissioners is likely to be highly disruptive, it undermines our government of law when such violations are just ignored.
Our government of law is dependent on the courts following the law and I ask that you initiate an investigation into the behavior of the listed judges to determine if there has been the violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct as alleged. Your attention to this matter is appreciated.