Trummel still jailed

Attorney Robert Siegel fights on.

Attorney Robert Siegel fights on.

LAST WEEK, Paul Trummel chose jail again rather than change his Web site. Trummel has been jailed since Feb. 27 for failing to alter accusatory language on his Web site as ordered by King County Judge James Doerty (“Forbidden Phrases,” March 21).

Trummel, 69, who says he’s a former London journalist and sometimes college instructor, claimed he was probing corruption and discrimination at Council House, a 163-unit residence for seniors on Capitol Hill, when Doerty barred him from the home last year for harassment (see “Fighting Words,” May 31, 2001). A Council House spokesperson said the home had “been under a federal investigation and [was] looked at many times by state agencies and never had a problem.”

Management and some residents at the subsidized-housing facility claim Trummel “terrorized” the home with his newsletter and online observations (contracabal.org) and has exaggerated his media credentials. Doerty apparently agreed, ruling that Trummel has no claim to freedom of the press because he does not have any income from his work.

Trummel’s attorney, Robert Siegel, who is appealing Doerty’s order, says the Constitution protects Trummel’s speech regardless of his standing as a member of the press.

On April 3, in an apparent concession, Doerty asked Trummel to appoint an outsider to make the editorial changes, because the accused could not make changes to the Web site from jail. Trummel refused and was returned to his King County jail cell.

Attorney Siegel, who calls the Doerty-Trummel standoff “a battle of egos,” says Trummel is encouraged by growing outside support. Besides e-mails, online chats are weighing in on the case, along with radio talk shows and The Washington Post‘s Newsbytes. Attorney James Chadwick told the Post that Doerty’s ruling is “classic prior restraint.” Chadwick says Trummel’s comments are protected speech unless there is a separate court finding that they are defamatory. Organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists are also trying to rally support, and a legal fund has been set up in Trummel’s name (Bank of America, 1309 Fourth, Seattle 98101).

At last week’s hearing, “Paul held his ground,” Siegel said, “and insisted he is being wrongfully jailed.”

Rick Anderson

randerson@seattleweekly.com


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Teaser
King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

t
Des Moines Police arrest murder suspect in Kent | Update

Medical examiner identifies body found June 20 in Duwamish River

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

File photo
Fireworks ban takes effect this year in unincorporated King County

The new law does not extend to cities, which each have their own regulations around fireworks.

A semiautomatic handgun with a safety cable lock that prevents loading ammunition. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Large-capacity ammo magazine sales ban starts soon in Washington

Starting July 1, a 10-round capacity becomes the limit for sales. Meanwhile, “there is a rush on magazine purchasing.”

At Dash Point on June 16, 2022. Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
All that the tides reveal: Puget Sound’s hidden intertidal world

Exploring King County beaches during the lowest tide in the last 13 years.

Most Read