October 30, 2018
Meeting was called to order by Matthew Rainwater at 7:30am. Jim Moran led the flag salute.
Randy Johnson’s brother. Eric Meldrum, Versatel Communications.
Dick P. moved to accept October 23rd meeting minutes, seconded by Peggy N. Motion passed.
A card was passed for Young Johnson for her injury. Peggy announced the annual Kiwanis sale of $20/can of gourmet nuts, available at Jim’s Pharmacy, Olympic Laundry, Thurmans and Swains.
Matthew reviewed the forum rules. Julie H. moderated.
Program: Suzanne Hayden and Dave Neupert, candidates for Clallam County District Court 1 Judge
Suzanne Hayden (SH): Stated she practiced law here for 20 years in every court including Lower Elwha, most recently in Juvenile Court. She is endorsed by Senator Van de Wege. Supreme Court Judge Susan Owens and Jamestown S’Klallam tribal council, and she wants change in the system.
Dave Neupert (DN): Said he is the only candidate with judicial experience and has been an attorney here for 25 years. He was the highest rated candidate by the Clallam County Bar Association poll. The budget is $1M+ this year and as an administrator and small business owner he knows how to work within budget.
Jon F. asked how the candidates approach decision making.
DN: He understands US and WA constitutions and the law. Then he determines facts and what the most credible and reliable testimony is.
SH: She learns what the actual issue is and what kind of accountability the other side is willing to accept, and what law it applies to. She wants people to understand the decision made. Accountability in adult court is most important.
Matthew asked what is more important: Justice for the victim or understanding why the person committed the crime.
SH: Justice for the victim. It’s nice to understand syndromes but the victim is most important. Services should be offered to the victim to break any cycles.
DN: Talked about the balance and using the law to make a decision. He must be neutral and fair.
SH: Added that coming in to court is different – at sentencing is the time to make change and offer more assistance.
Peggy asked if bail and work release work.
SH: Favors work release and spoke with Bill Benedict, but it doesn’t exist now. It’s especially good for families. Bail is to make sure they come back and they have rules to follow. She wants the discretion to make decisions on her own.
DN: Court rules apply to bail. They look at the nature of the crime, past history and community safety. A judge can decide to ask for bail.
Carol asked what they can do to mitigate high costs.
DN: Many are constitutionally required. Within the court they can look for inefficiencies, use probation officers. The court lost with indigent defense. He is sure the County Commissioners will find a solution. People do their best and he’ll always look for was to be more efficient.
SH: Turn over the calendar to probation officers. They follow defendants through the process. It’s not that way currently, the judge says come back in 30 days and it’s not practical for a judge to be a probation officer. It should not be a for-profit role. A substitute judge is budgeted for $65k, a ridiculous amount. She’d reinstate a District Court 1 and 2 relationship.
DN: Added the problem arises from delays, cost would be reduced if people won’t be required to be held in jail.
SH: If someone is accused, the 24/7 program is a way to help them get sober and can be used at sentencing.
Gayla asked what Suzanne meant by ‘changes for the worst’.
SH: The Judge Porter pay or appear program that was implemented became a debtors prison program, the ACLU went after him, and he has a lack of respect and common courtesy in the courtroom.
DN: Said he has civil and criminal experience. If he has an issue with a judge he’d talk to him directly. he is the same person in public as he is on the bench, committed to community service and happy to measure his performance in court.
Randy asked how to fund indigent defense moving forward.
DN: We have a separation of powers and the legislature sets priorities for each county. They are constitutionally mandated. An example could be the driver license program where at a lower level it is unnecessary to take up time in court.
SH: Asked what budget has stayed the same in the past years. All prosecuting attorneys cost more. Counties are being sued for their indigent defense. We have attorneys with great experience.
Carol moved to extend the meeting up to 15 minutes. Dick seconded. Motion passed.
Peter asked how state mandated guidelines for sentencing apply in district court.
SH: We do not have too many mandatory minimums. She gets the background from prosecuting and defense attorneys and can make a decision.
DN: Years ago judges had too much discretion. He thinks let the punishment fit the crime and he can set alternate jail time. Nothing mandates community service and there should be consequences in coming back to court.
Kevin asked what question the candidates wish they were asked in campaigning, but weren’t.
DN: He’s asked most often about it being a partisan role and what are the issues facing the community. He hasn’t been asked asked where he sees the court system in 4 years.
SH: Would have liked to have shared about herself. She was raised in an Air Force family and lived all over the world. her 90+ year old mom is here, her sister is here, she has adopted 2 children, and has three rescue animals. That kind of background to know is valuable.
Dick asked about Suzanne’s husband as an attorney.
SH: Said she would recuse herself and he would never be in front of her as a judge.
DN: He wouldn’t want to be in that type of income household and would maintain neutrality.
SH: Asked an Ethics Professor about every possible scenario and he said there was no issue.
SH: Said she is way overqualified. She is WA Senator endorsed and WA state supreme court justice endorsed and wants to bring new eyes into the courtroom.
DN: Completed state judicial college and has heard every type of case in court. He has experience on the bench and in the community. He shares the commitment to make it a better place to live and will face issues collaboratively.
Nov 6: Sequim Chamber of Commerce Director
Meeting adjourned at 8:40am.