rpopp.jpg
Normally this time of year, election season, Richard Pope is handing out political fliers and sneaking onto our TV screens, running for something. His resume

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Richard Pope, Former Attorney General Candidate And Perennial Office Seeker, Loses Bar License, Hit With Anti-Harassment Order

rpopp.jpg
Normally this time of year, election season, Richard Pope is handing out political fliers and sneaking onto our TV screens, running for something. His resume includes seeking offices for county assessor, state judge, and port commissioner, among many, switching from party to party to gain advantage. He netted some acclaim and an impressive 883,000 votes in a 2000 losing effort to then-attorney general Christine Gregoire. But after his 2007 loss to incumbent King County Council member Jane Hague (AKA Miss Jane Springman at her DUI hearing), Pope wound up 0-for-11 over the last two decades and had become known as a political gadfly. He's not seeking office this year, or perhaps ever again, he said the other day. He's got a more personal campaign to run: getting back his bar license and fighting a restraining order obtained by a former girlfriend client and acquaintance.

"It's a very complicated situation," said Pope, 47, a currently-suspended Bellevue attorney. "It's not something that I'm really interested in a lot of news coverage on. It's just a very bizarre situation."

A Bellevue woman named Carmen Arruda sought a protection order against Pope last year, claiming he was harassing her, including calling her repeatedly and sending anonymous e-mails and faxes to her employer seeking to get her fired. In a police report, she accused him of groping her at a party and generally acting crazy.

She was granted the order against Pope last August by a Bellevue District Court judge. Pope is currently appealing the order in King County Superior Court. He denies Arruda's claims.

That situation ought to pretty much take care of Pope's free time. But he's also trying to clear his name with the Washington State Bar Association. Spokesperson Judy Berrett confirms Pope has been suspended from practice since 2008 due to a complaint against him and currently faces disciplinary action.

In May, as part of its probe into Pope, the bar subpoenaed Seattle Weekly seeking the identity of a commenter who responded to a story on the Daily Weekly blog. Unrelated to Pope, the August 2009 story reported on an aesthetically challenged, bunker-like sidewalk built by the city in front of a vacant Capitol Hill lot at a cost of $2 million.

A person claiming to be Arruda posted a comment agreeing the money was not wisely spent. Ten days later, a commenter who signed as "Citizens Against Mortgage Fraud" posted an eight-paragraph attack on Arruda that included details about the harassment dispute and called Arruda's boyfriend a career criminal.

The unsubstantiated and potentially libelous post was quickly taken down by an editor. The accusations were similar to those made in a fax Arruda claims Pope earlier sent to her employer, a link the bar was apparently attempting to establish (the commenter's e-mail address vanished when the comment was removed). Asked by the Weekly about the similarities of the fax and the posting and whether he had anything to do with "Citizens Against...," Pope responded: "I have no comment on that."

Pope also faces a competency hearing, the bar says, indicating that questions have arisen about his ability to provide legal services.

"If the hearing officer finds that Mr. Pope does not have the mental or physical capacity to practice law," says Berrett, "the hearing officer must recommend that he be transferred to disability inactive status. Mr. Pope would remain on disability inactive status until he shows that the disability has been removed." If he's found not disabled, the disciplinary proceedings would resume.

"I think the more interesting story to write about is the psychiatrist the bar association hired to say I supposedly have issues," says Pope. "That guy is totally crazy."

Pope insists he's a victim in all this. He could give up and go quietly, he says, but his nature is to fight back.

"You don't let this kind of thing happen, you don't let them do this to people. Walk away? I've got all this stuff on the Internet about me and I can't get it taken down. I can't walk away. If anyone should walk away, it's the people attacking me."

[This post has been revised since it was originally published.]

 
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