Sheriff Adam Fortney. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Sheriff Adam Fortney. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Justices reject 4th recall against Sheriff Adam Fortney

The court said the allegations were either insufficient or had been covered by previous petitions.

  • Herald staff and Associated Press
  • Thursday, February 10, 2022 4:03pm
  • Local News

Herald staff and Associated Press

OLYMPIA — The Washington Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling that rejected a fourth recall petition against Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney.

The first two petitions against Fortney included allegations he violated his duties by saying he would not enforce pandemic-related restrictions issued by Gov. Jay Inslee and by rehiring three deputies previously fired for misconduct.

While courts found some of those charges against the sheriff factually and legally sufficient, the sponsors of the recall campaigns failed to turn in any signatures.

One of those petitioners, Lori Shavlik, submitted but then withdrew a third recall petition.

Last April, Shavlik filed another recall effort — this one making some of the same allegations as earlier petitions and adding several new charges. Those included that he retaliated against her because of her prior recall effort; that he sent personal emails from his government account; and that he improperly served on the board of a child advocacy organization, the Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center, and delegated forensic interviews of children to the center’s employees.

In a unanimous opinion Thursday, the court said Shavlik’s allegations were all either insufficient or barred because they had been covered by previous recall petitions. The justices ordered Shavlik to pay legal costs Fortney incurred from her appeal of the lower court’s order.

The Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office represented Fortney.

“Their efforts in this case are appreciated and the decision by the Supreme Court clearly affirmed that elected officials should not be subject to repeated frivolous and harassing filings,” Fortney said in a statement.

“For me, personally and professionally, I have given no attention to the latest recall,” he continued. “My sincere hope is that the Herald will stop writing articles on nonsensical recall efforts by one person in Snohomish County.”

The office did not defend Fortney when the sheriff contested petitions for the two initial recall attempts in 2020. County Prosecutor Adam Cornell said at the time he felt some of those charges were legally sufficient. The state Supreme Court later agreed.

This time was different, Cornell said.

“It was clear to me the petition was without merit. I believed the charges in the petition were legally and factually insufficient and I’m incredibly pleased the Supreme Court agreed,” he said.

Shavlik will owe the county about $600, Cornell said.

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