With at least five political figures awaiting their fates in local courtrooms, the state Supreme Court's recent decision allowing politicians to lie seems fortuitous. False claims may be commonplace in campaigns, said the high court on Oct. 5, but government censorship wasn't the right remedy.
So with that, dear politico, how do you plead?
Not that Venus Velázquez, Richard McIver, Mark Olson, Jane Hague, and Bobbe Bridge aren't truth tellers. Bridge particularly. She's among the minority of Supreme Court justices who opposed the pols-can-lie ruling, 5-4. She's also a public figure who decided not to finagle a DUI defense, accepting intensive alcohol treatment as part of a deferred sentence for her 2003 Seattle drunk-driving arrest. She remains on court probation for another year, facing further sentencing if she stumbles.
Her attorney, Bill Bowman, thought Bridge could have successfully challenged the .22 DataMaster blood-alcohol reading she blew (almost three times the .08 legal limit) and won her case. But that wasn't befitting her public role, she decided. Bowman now also represents Velázquez, who, conversely, refused the blood-alcohol-content (BAC) test after being stopped for a DUI last week. The Seattle City Council candidate will face an automatic one-year license revocation and now says the BAC refusal was a dumb move. Legally, at least, it was. Her attorney and his Bellevue firm, Fox Bowman Duarte, are experts at arguing the failings of BAC tests and challenging the constitutionality of consent forms. With the right representation, taking the BAC today might be more advantageous than refusing it.
Ask Hague about that. The King County Council member blew a .14 after her June DUI stop. She cussed out the cops, belittled public defenders, and got in her husband's face for getting her into this mess. But she blew as asked and then successfully relied on another Eastside DUI specialty law firm, Cowan Smith Kirk Gaston, to find the right jurist and have the results suppressed. They found District Judge Peter Nault, who for years has ruled that the state BAC consent-form language is legally defective. The suppression motion flowed so automatically through his court that a prosecutor didn't realize it happened. Another prosecutor now seeks to get the results reinstated.
Everett City Council member Olson—another of Bill (Lawyer to the Pols) Bowman's clients—took the Bobbe Bridge, deferred-prosecution route after his 2003 DUI. But he violated probation, and last month a court extended it to 2010. He claims officials said he could resume drinking, but that dog wouldn't hunt. It also may have gotten him into hotter water: His night of boozing has led to a claim by a Skagit County woman that he raped her. Authorities are now investigating.
Seattle City Council member McIver, accused of an Oct. 10 domestic assault on his wife after a night of boozing, has gone a singular route: He just won't talk about his case. Not one word. He's hired high-profile mouthpiece David Allen to do that. The arrest hung in the air when McIver appeared at a council hearing last week, but he was smiling and jovial. "His council business is separate from this very sad allegation," said Allen. Well, as in all these cases, voters will be the judge of that.