Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney during an interview at the sheriff’s department June 17. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney during an interview at the sheriff’s department June 17. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Fortney asks state high court to stop latest recall effort

Snohomish County’s embattled sheriff wants to derail local attorneys working in concert to unseat him.

OLYMPIA — Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney wants the state Supreme Court to throw out one of two recalls launched against him.

On Monday, Fortney’s attorneys sought direct review by justices of actions by San Juan County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Loring, who allowed efforts to unseat the law enforcement leader to proceed.

Loring, in a June 12 order, approved the ballot synopsis for the four charges on which the recall petition would be based. She rejected a fifth accusation leveled against Fortney by the quartet of Snohomish County attorneys spearheading the effort. Loring held a lengthy hearing on the charges June 2.

In two of the charges, the recall committee accuses Fortney of violating his statutory duties and endangering “the peace and safety of the community” by stating that he would not enforce Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order and inciting the public to violate the statewide mandate. Those stem from an April 21 Facebook post by Fortney.

The other two charges accuse the sheriff of exercising his “discretion in a manifestly unreasonable manner” by rehiring three deputies — Fortney’s friends and political allies — who had been fired for misconduct by the previous sheriff; and by swiftly absolving a deputy of misconduct, within hours of learning that the white sheriff’s employee tackled an African-American medical worker who was accused of jaywalking. Sheriff’s office reports say the woman had been detained, then ran off without permission and without providing her identity. The recall committee argued Fortney could not have possibly conducted an adequate investigation into alleged misconduct in a matter of hours.

If the Supreme Court upholds Loring’s decision, the Committee to Recall Sheriff Fortney will have 180 days to collect the necessary number of signatures to get the recall on a ballot. The high court has until July 13 to act, according to a news release from the committee.

“We look forward to explaining to the Washington Supreme Court and, then, the people of Snohomish County how Sheriff Fortney violated his oath of office,” said Colin McMahon, the recall committee chairman and a Snohomish County public defender.

Meanwhile, Fortney did not seek Supreme Court review of the recall petition filed by Monroe resident Lori Shavlik. Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning allowed Shavlik’s recall effort to go forward on May 15. So far the two groups have acted independent of each other.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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