Primary will be ignored, says King County GOP

SEATTLE — King County Republican precinct representatives will select nominees Sept. 15, three days before the state’s primary election, the county’s top GOP official says.

If voters favor someone other than the convention’s choice for county executive or seats on the County Council, GOP officials will ask in court that the convention’s choice prevail, county Republican chairman Reed Davis said Wednesday.

Flouting a decision by the state Republican Party, Davis asserted that the blanket primary should be disregarded because it is unconstitutional.

"Our executive board feels that our First Amendment rights … are being blatantly disregarded," Davis said. "This is the only recourse left to us at this time."

Under the system used in Washington for 65 years, all candidates are listed on a single ballot and voters can select one for each office. Republican and Democratic leaders challenged the system last year after the Supreme Court struck down California’s blanket primary.

The state and the parties agreed to an injunction finding the blanket primary unconstitutional, but the Legislature never agreed on a replacement and the injunction was lifted in July by U.S. District Judge Franklin Burgess of Tacoma.

Burgess ruled that the state could use the blanket primary again this fall pending a trial in March to determine whether the system is unconstitutional.

Court spars over open public meetings: Lakewood City Council’s closed meeting to discuss a legal challenge of Initiative 695 didn’t violate the state Open Public Meetings Act and a recall drive is unwarranted, the state Supreme Court held Thursday. One dissenting justice, however, warned that the majority "invites secrecy in governance and shields public officials from public responsibility for their acts." Six Lakewood residents tried to oust all seven council members after they met in closed session Dec. 13, 1999, to discuss whether to join other local governments in the challenge of I-695. A Pierce County Superior Court judge dismissed the recall petitions, and the high court on Thursday agreed. The 1999 ballot measure, later thrown out by the courts, was Tim Eyman’s plan to reduce car tab fees to $30 a year per vehicle and require public votes on all future tax and fee increases. The Legislature later approved the cheaper car tabs. Lakewood eventually joined in the part of the lawsuit asking for a ruling on the public vote requirement.

Court invalidates drug conviction stemming from search: When Yakima County code inspector Lee Hargroves got a search warrant to enter Kenneth R. Lansden’s property, he was looking for evidence of junk vehicles and people living in campers. He found it. But he and sheriff’s deputies with him also found evidence of a meth lab, leading to Lansden’s arrest and conviction on charges of manufacturing and possessing methamphetamine. Lansden appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing that the drug evidence should have been suppressed in court because the original warrant dealt only with junk cars and campers. On Thursday, the high court ruled unanimously in Lansden’s favor, saying the original warrant was invalid. The justices sent the case back to Yakima County Superior Court for dismissal of Lansden’s conviction.

State not liable for man’s motorcycle injury: The state isn’t liable for the injuries of motorcyclists who plunged over an unexpected drop-off at Beverly Dunes Recreation Area in Grant County, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday. On a late spring day in 1995, Joseph Patrick Davis and some buddies were riding on flat open terrain among sand dunes. Disaster struck when a trail of tire tracks from recreational vehicles led to a drop-off of at least 20 feet. Davis and his bike plunged over the side, leaving him blind and paraplegic when his spine was broken. Davis sued the state for damages, asserting that there were no warning signs posted and that the tracks from previous users had created a hazard. But the high court, agreeing with lower court decisions, ruled that state isn’t liable.

Court releases man who shot roommate: A man who was acquitted of murder after pleading innocent by reason of insanity should be released unconditionally from a mental hospital, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled Thursday. Court documents say Thomas James Reid shot and killed his roommate, Aaron Hughes, while Hughes was playing Nintendo in their Bremerton apartment in August 1994. Reid was 19 at the time, and Hughes was 18. Two doctors examined Reid and concluded he experienced a psychotic episode, triggered by his use of LSD months earlier. The state did not contradict the doctors’ testimony, and Reid was allowed to plead innocent by reason of insanity to the murder charge. The court ruled that Reid was a danger to himself and others, and committed him indefinitely to Western State. Now experts say he shows no signs of mental illness, so the high court ordered his release.

Searchers find two people after emergency landing: Searchers on Thursday found two men who spent a night in the rugged Cascade foothills after their small plane made an emergency landing. The men were located about 10 miles southeast of this rural south King County town on a logging road in a clearcut area of the heavily forested hills. Searchers found them after zeroing in on an emergency locator signal from the plane and spotting a signal fire the men had built. The pilot, Brian Haug, and his passenger, Nicholas Force, used a cell phone Wednesday to report they were OK after the crash landing, which occurred when their single-engine plane apparently developed engine trouble and fell through the forest canopy. Searchers from King and Pierce counties and the Enumclaw Fire Department spent the night driving logging roads. Planes and helicopters joined the search Thursday morning. The chartered Cessna took off Wednesday from Boeing Field to check for fires on Weyerhaeuser Co. land. The 25-year-old Haug reported some back pain, but officials said both men were in good shape.

Former inmate tries to break into prison hours after his release: An armed man who had just been released from the Oregon State Correctional Institution tried to force his way back into the prison by cutting a razor-wire fence, officials said Thursday. Corrections officials did not immediately say why 26-year-old Joel Damen Montoya tried to re-enter the prison Wednesday night just hours after his release. Montoya was found between two perimeter fences at the medium-security facility at about 9:30 p.m., said Perrin Damon, a corrections department spokeswoman. Montoya was in the process of cutting through the interior fence, she said. She said a weapon and "escape devices" were found, but she would not elaborate. Montoya, who had just completed a year in prison for sex abuse, was in the custody of the Oregon State Police.

From Herald news services

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