For now, the verdict on a possible recall of Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist is no decision – but it’s coming.
Tuesday, after two-plus hours of legal argument from recall backers and Lindquist’s attorney, Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jay Roof said he would issue a written decision, and left the courtroom.
The recall petition filed by Fircrest resident Cheryl Iseberg charges Lindquist with 12 acts of misconduct, including vindictive prosecution, abuse of authority, mismanagement, spending public money to defend his personal interests, evading public disclosure laws and violating the civil rights of criminal defendants.
If Roof upholds any of the charges, Iseberg could begin to gather signatures to bring the recall to the ballot next year.
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Lindquist did not appear at the hearing. His attorney, Mark Hood, spoke for him. Attorney Jeff Helsdon argued for Iseberg and recall backers.
The hearing resembled a legal tennis match: Helsdon would recite a charge and the underlying circumstances. Hood would reply, and say the charge didn’t meet the legal standard for recall.
The arguments began to echo as the hearing continued. In essence, Hood argued that recall backers were asserting violations of laws, and that required a standard of proof that recall backers couldn’t meet.
He added that the recall charges show no proof that Lindquist intended to commit unlawful acts.
“Recall is not based on guesswork,” Hood said.
Helsdon replied that the standards of recall – a right enshrined in the state constitution – favored the people, not elected officials. He added that the judge was allowed to infer Lindquist’s intent from circumstances.
“A violation of law is not necessary to recall an elected official,” Helsdon said.
Roof, assigned to the case as a visiting judge to avoid potential conflicts of interest in Pierce County, asked few questions, apart from asking each attorney to give statements on the charges.
He gave no sign of how long he would take to issue his ruling. Thomas Oldfield, Helsdon’s law partner, who attended the hearing, guessed the decision would come before the end of the week.
Though he didn’t attend the hearing, Lindquist sent a brief statement to The News Tribune via email:
“In our business, if you do your job effectively and hold people accountable, you're going to make some folks unhappy. I'm confident the public supports our vigorous prosecution and how we protect our community.”
After the hearing, Iseberg said she wasn’t worried about waiting for the judge.
“I don’t know that we expected him to make a decision today,” she said. “I think we’re confident in our charges that we filed and we’re confident in the oral arguments today. We’re looking forward to hearing his decision.”