WA Supreme Court expedites timeline for appeal over Mayor Durkan recall petition

Aug 18, 2020, 3:15 PM
Mayor Durkan recall petition, COVID, anarchist jurisdiction, 2021 budget forecast, records requests...
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court of Washington State has issued an expedited timeline to hear an appeal over a petition to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Petition to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan clears first hurdle

An initial ruling from King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts had previously struck down six of seven assertions made in a petition from a group known as “Fire the Mayor,” upholding the one that alleged the mayor had failed to take action regarding extreme crowd control measures — including the use of tear gas — employed by police during early-June protests that took place in downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill.

Mayor Durkan filed a motion asking Judge Roberts to reconsider, claiming her office had no legal duty to prescribe Seattle Police Department policies. Roberts denied that motion in July, before Durkan filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court.

Fire the Mayor put in a request to expedite the appeal, asking that oral arguments take place in late August. Durkan’s lawyers responded by asking for a far more drawn-out timeline, which would have seen them file an opening brief on Sept. 28, receive a response from petitioners on Oct. 28, and then replying to that response on Nov. 28.

Fire the Mayor labeled the move “an insult to the intelligence of petitioners, protesters, this Court, and the voters of Seattle,” and accused her of deliberately delaying the process.

“The implication that the Mayor would like this case to take all the time it possibly can is easily made,” a recent filing from the group reads.

Ultimately, the court agreed to hear an opening brief from Durkan on Aug. 31, receive a response from petitioners on Sept. 14, a reply from Durkan on Sept. 17, and then a final reply from petitioners on Sept. 22. Oral arguments will not take place, with the Washington Supreme Court instead opting to rule off of written briefs. On that timeline, a final ruling could potentially come down sometime in early to mid October.

Seattle Mayor calls on council to investigate, possibly expel Sawant

If Durkan’s appeal is rejected, that would start the clock on an 180-day signature gathering period for recall petitioners. If enough verified paper signatures are collected within that 180-day window — 25% of the total votes cast in the last mayoral election, totaling just over 56,000 — King County Elections will set a date for a special election between 45 and 90 days after certification, preferably on an already-scheduled election day.

Recall efforts are also underway for Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Lisa Herbold. A petition to recall Sawant was submitted to King County Elections Tuesday morning, and will soon be reviewed by the King County Prosecutor’s Office. No paperwork for Herbold’s recall has been submitted, but a Change.org petition has garnered over 2,500 signatures in just under a week.

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WA Supreme Court expedites timeline for appeal over Mayor Durkan recall petition