Why Judge Ryan won’t face DUI prosecution

Attached you’ll find the paperwork we got Monday under public records laws, explaining why a King County deputy prosecutor decided not to file a drunken-driving charge against Snohomish County District Court Judge Timothy Ryan.

As we reported, the prosecutor determined there was insufficient evidence to prove Ryan was driving impaired Aug. 29 when he was stopped by Washington State Patrol troopers near Mill Creek. Ryan refused to cooperate with sobriety tests.

Erin Norgaard made the decision to assist local prosecutors to avoid a legal conflict. Norgaard, a senior deputy prosecutor from King County, said that in the absence of Breathalizer evidence, there would be little chance of convincing a jury Ryan was intoxicated, particularly when Roger Fisher, another district court judge, was expected to testify that his friend wasn’t impaired. The two had been at a restaurant until a few minutes before the traffic stop.

KIRO-FM radio has posted to MyNorthwest.com the trooper’s dashcam video of Ryan’s driving and behavior when stopped that night. It’s worth a look.

The next stop for the case is a Nov. 27 hearing before the state Department of Licensing, where Ryan has indicated he hopes to convince the state that his license to drive shouldn’t be suspended. Under state law, anybody who refuses a breath test resulting from a traffic stop faces an automatic two-year license suspension.

Ryan isn’t the first local judge to avoid a drunken driving charge after refusing sobriety tests.

That happened in 1994, which was the dark ages for the Web, and the stories aren’t available online.

Judge David Hulbert, then on the Snohomish County Superior Court bench, was pulled over in Lake Stevens. He initially was charged with drunken driving, but the city prosecutor dismissed the charge after determining that it had been improperly filed by the officer without undergoing review. Instead, the city prosecutor reached an agreement with the judge — negotiated in chambers, no less — with Hulbert paying a $130 fine for the lesser offense of negligent driving.

That’s when somebody who was aware of the arrest picked up the phone and gave us a heads up.

As Ryan is doing, Hulbert also asked for a hearing before his driver’s license was suspended. He lost.

Voters eventually showed him the door, but it wasn’t because of that long-ago traffic stop.

Hulbert initially was a bit flip about his troubles, saying that losing his license was no big deal. “I can thumb a ride to work,” he said at the time.

The anger directed his way tempered his further statements. When the state refused to exempt him from license suspension, Hulbert released a prepared statement, vowing to abide by the decision “in the same spirit that he expects those who appear before him to abide by his decisions.”

Hulbert at the time added that he trusted “others will learn from his experience and that the citizens of Snohomish County can finally rest assured that the system works for all people regardless of their station or position in life.”

So far, Ryan has been mum about the lessons to be had in his case.

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

Street-legal ATVs approved for some roads near Sultan

Supporters foresee tourism benefits. Opponents are concerned about injury and pollution risks.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Merger would make Providence part of health care behemoth

Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension Health are said to be talking. Swedish would also be affected.

5 teens in custody in drug-robbery shooting death

They range in age from 15 to 17. One allegedly fatally shot a 54-year-old mother, whose son was wounded.

Most Read