Love, Then War

Never ending, it seems, is the litigious saga of a chastised lawyer, a fired sheriff's deputy, and the lust they once shared.

It sounds ready-made for TV: Lust brought them together, the Mafia tore them apart. Sort of. It's the story of an attractive suburban attorney who prosecuted petty criminals and the rugged deputy sheriff who hauled them to justice. They began a secret affair that soared, then crashed, in part from all that talk of mob connections and beheading a horse. They blamed each other for the loss of both their jobs—a court took away the deputy's gun for making threats and the Bar Association has just recommended the attorney be suspended for lying. From the local courtroom in Kenmore where they met, the issue of their lust—her term for it—has spread to state and federal courts, where the ex-lovers are claiming the real negligent party is the deputy's former employer. On Oct. 14, a U.S. judge's ruling made it more difficult for the ex-prosecutor, Margita Anne-Marie Dornay, 37, to sue the King County Sheriff's Office for damages she claims resulted from her yearlong affair with the ex-deputy, David W. Hick, 36. But both continue to pursue legal damages to unsoil their reputations.

If nothing else, the saga says something useful about office-style affairs: don't ever. When the attorney and deputy met in the halls of justice four ago, she was a partner in Kenyon Dornay Marshall of Issaquah, a municipal law firm where her husband, Robert Noe, also worked as a prosecutor. The firm hires out its legal and prosecutorial services to 30 small towns around Seattle, from Burien to North Bend, and to Kenmore, where the deputy was stationed. At one of their first meetings, the attorney/prosecutor recalled, the deputy gave her a loaded gun to protect herself. Later, he told her of his ongoing divorce and she started to reveal her own marital discord. They began seeing each other. The infatuation was relentless. They'd sometimes connect through three dozen daily phone or pager calls around the clock, and send each other notes. "I love you," the prosecutor once wrote the deputy, "I adore you, and I . . . oh my god . . . I lust you." (See "Trials and Tribulations," Sept. 18, 2002.)

To show his affection, he gave her a $5,500 horse. That began to take on a different meaning as the affair progressed. She says the deputy claimed to be a former Mafia hit man and bragged about past homicides. When he became abusive, she claims, she told him it was over. His response was to threaten her in the style of The Godfather, suggesting her gift horse's decapitated head might show up in her bed. He vowed to "send the remaining body parts to my children's school, my firm, and to my church," she said under oath to obtain a restraining order against him. The deputy said the mob talk was a joke and his only sin was to have indulged in an "obsessive, almost childlike" affair. But an Issaquah District Court judge issued the restraining order in 2002, taking an extra precaution of ordering the deputy not to carry a gun. Legally disarmed, the 10-year officer was out of a job.

Then it was her turn. The state bar was tipped off to allegations the attorney had once lied on the witness stand during the affair—giving false testimony for her then-lover at one of his divorce hearings. Last month, the bar's disciplinary committee recommended she serve a three-year suspension from practicing law, a costly punishment awaiting final review by the state Supreme Court. In another state court, the deputy is proceeding with a damage claim against the sheriff for wrongful discharge. The department "knew, or should have known, that Ms. Dornay and her spurious accusations were not credible" when he lost his gun and was dismissed, he says. The prosecutor and her steadfast husband, meanwhile, are suing the sheriff in federal court, claiming the department knew of the deputy's bad behavior and "negligently retained him as an employee." Another version of the lawsuit remains active in state court. The husband also alleges loss of consortium—the ability to have normal marital relations. King County says the couple's accusations are false and frivolous and has filed a counterclaim. On Oct. 14, the sheriff won a partial judgment in U.S. District Court that limits the scope of the lawsuit. Judge Robert Lasnik decided the couple had not established any constitutional violations, as required under federal law. The couple also requested the court file be sealed from prying eyes, but, Lasnik said, "It does not appear necessary to do so, and the public has an interest in access to information to the extent possible." In other words, the story continues and we will get to hear the juicy parts. Stay tuned for more lust and order.

randerson@seattleweekly.com

 
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