Dammeier scores with bill for review of prosecutor

From the editorial board

State Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup
State Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup Washington State Legislative Sup

Connoisseurs of Pierce County politics enjoyed another plot twist this week when state Sen. Bruce Dammeier said he’s working up a bill that would highlight council Chairman Dan Roach’s accommodating relationship with Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. (Dammeier didn’t put it that way, of course.)

Lindquist has been battling a sheriff’s deputy’s attempts to obtain cell phone information she believes could show that he retaliated against her. He recently appointed two outside attorneys to review his decision to withhold particular text messages sent from his personal phone.

State law says prosecutors should handle county litigation. But County Executive Pat McCarthy argues for an exception; she says Lindquist shouldn’t be allowed to hand-pick the people charged with reviewing his own actions when his personal interests are at stake.

Roach has aligned himself with Lindquist; he’s been trying to prevent McCarthy from even seeking an opinion on the matter from a Thurston County Superior Court judge.

Dammeier plans to run against Roach for Pierce County executive next year. His proposed legislation would create the exception McCarthy argues for: Counties would be able to seek outside help from the state attorney general when a legal dispute focuses on the behavior of the prosecutor himself.

Roach ought to agree on the need for fully independent legal assistance on cases that conceivably involve a prosecutor’s own mistakes or misconduct. But Dammeier scored the points on this one.