A Seattle attorney has been kicked off a Washington State Bar Association civil rights committee for giving Seattle Weekly a copy of a bar report on racial incidents in a small town. The report - a review of incidents in Hoquiam reported by the Weekly - was critical of law enforcement, local officials and the bar association as well. Bar president Ellen Conedera Dial told attorney Rob Gaudet, who headed a bar civil rights subcommittee that reviewed the Hoquiam case and substantiated the Weekly's report, says the bar's Board of Governors voted unanimously to remove Gaudet because of his "conduct in releasing to a newspaper reporter a copy of a draft report that had not been approved by" the bar.
Gaudet was banished from his position on the WSBA Civil Rights Committee while he was out of town; he's currently in Sweden on a Fulbright Fellowship. In her Aug. 1 letter to Gaudet, Dial wrote:
The member of the press to whom you sent the draft report posted it on his newspaper's web site as a report of a committee of the Washington State Bar Association. Although you acknowledge that you are aware of this action, so far as the Board is aware you have taken no action to rectify this misinformation."
Gaudet disagrees it was a draft, saying the report was the final version. "My emails to the Subcommittee said the report would be released unless I received revisions from them by a particular time and date," Gaudet said in an e-mail today. "None was received. Therefore, the final report that I distributed was approved by the Subcommittee, contrary to what is stated in Ms. Dial's" letter.The attorney says his subcommittee's meetings were open to the public, and he thus shared the first version of the report with the Weekly and others in that spirit: "As chair of the Subcommittee, I saw no need for secrecy in our meetings, much less in our final report." Another subcommittee member, attorney Michael Brown, released the official final report today, noting that it contains "no substantive changes" from the report Gaudet released that led to his removal.