When the going gets weird, well, King County Council Democratic candidate Richard Pope keeps moving right along (see "Pope Floats," Sept. 5). His latest coup: succeeding in at least temporarily removing the judge who on Monday ruled that Pope's Republican opponent, Jane Hague, could delay arguments in her drunk-driving trial until after the November election.
King County District Court Presiding Judge Barbara Linde said Tuesday afternoon that she has already notified pro tem Judge Richard Llewelyn Jones regarding his removal for failing to report his own criminal background. This decision could also lead to nullification of Jones' ruling to delay arguments over Hague's so-far successful attempt to have blood-alcohol results thrown out. "I'll leave it up to the two sides to decide [whether the delay stands]," Linde says, indicating Hague and prosecutors could end up in court again before the election after all.
In a Tuesday morning e-mail sent to Linde and other county officials (including Hague), Pope raised questions about the propriety of using Jones as a fill-in judge on the DUI case. Hague's presumed easy re-election has been impeded by the DUI arrest (see "Thar She Blows," Aug. 29), along with exaggerations about her educational background and campaign finance issues. Pope also said Jones shouldn't have been allowed to preside at the hearing because the temporary judge—a Bellevue attorney—has a criminal record and is a "Republican activist."
Linde says there were no politics involved in picking Jones to sit in for another judge during the preliminary hearing Monday in Redmond. However, Jones' criminal history should have precluded him from sitting on the pro tem bench in the first place. Pope's e-mail was "new news" to Linde, she says, adding that Jones had not revealed what were at least two misdemeanor criminal pleas of guilt involving an alleged burglary at his ex-wife's home and a dispute over a rental car, among other incidents. Both cases began as felonies but were pleaded down, according to court records, Linde says.
Pope argued that Jones, not to be confused with Superior Court Judge Richard Anthony Jones, should not have presided even temporarily over such a "politically sensitive and high-profile" case and then issued a ruling that aided Hague's campaign. Linde said she verified Pope's information quickly. "[Jones] does have these criminal convictions," she confirms. "I decided to cease using Mr. Jones as a pro tem while we look further into it."
A committee will review the case, and Jones will be allowed to respond, Linde says. Jones did not return the Weekly's requests for comment.