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Fill-in judge for lawsuit against Gov. Inslee tests positive for COVID-19

Downtown Manson, Washington. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A fill-in Superior Court judge for a lawsuit against Gov. Inslee has tested positive for COVID-19. This news came after a scheduled Tuesday hearing was delayed when a last-minute filing disqualified the original judge.

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An attorney told KIRO Radio that fill-in judge Kristin Ferrera was apparently working from home via Zoom. According to the Wenatchee World, Ferrera received her positive results Friday after she was tested Thursday. She reportedly was experiencing a dry cough. The Wenatchee World reports she is the first known public official in Chelan and Douglas counties to test positive.

Judge Travis Brandt was originally assigned to the case, but about an hour before the hearing on Tuesday, there were last minute filings by the Attorney General’s office requesting Brandt be disqualified based on disclosures he made to the court about knowing three of the plaintiffs, one of whom sold him a car, one is an attorney who often argues cases in his courtroom and appeared in a campaign video for him, and a third who is his daughter’s pastor.

That filing now has the hearing delayed to a yet-to-be-announced date. Meanwhile, Ferrera is reportedly recovering, and her illness is not expected to delay the hearing date any further.

The AG’s office has also asked that the case be moved to a Thurston County court.

The case came about when dozens of business owners, pastors, and community leaders in Chelan County joined together to sue the governor. The lawsuit seeks immediate relief from Gov. Inslee’s state of emergency declaration over the COVID-19 threat.

The county says there is no longer a threat of overrunning local hospitals, but there is a concern the local economy will collapse. Pain, suffering, and widespread poverty will follow, the county claims. The lawsuit states that there is no longer an emergency threat, and therefore Gov. Inslee must lift his order.

“The emergency order was specifically tied to the danger of hospitals being overrun. Thankfully, the data statewide is giving us wonderful news. Nowhere in the state is that presently a danger. The Governor can’t just change the terms of his emergency from flattening the curve to no positive cases,” said attorney Joel Ard. “According to his own terms, the emergency is over.”

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“The pain, the suffering, the economic uncertainty … it has to stop. This is my attempt to help our community,” said Jose Cuevas, also a Wenatchee City Council member. “We can’t wait any longer.”

Cuevas said he and his wife both lost their jobs. They’re struggling to put food on the table for their three kids and the bills continue to pile up.

Douglas County has filed a similar suit.

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