Saturday, July 10, 2010

Roach Wins Court Case

My press release...printed story follows. Mine was short just to get moving.
Immediate Release
Contact Pam Roach

Roach Wins Court Decision In Voters Pamphlet Challenge

Today State Senator Pam Roach won, in total, her challege to a voter's pamphlet statement submitted by a minor opponent.

Judge Thomas McPhee, Thurston County Superior Court Judge ruled that Matt Richardson's statements were "false and not true." He said Richarson's statements were with "reckless disragard," and that the statements met the level of "defamation per se" as referenced in the statue but went on to say they met the critieria for the highest standard (Sullivan Standard) of defamation.

Judge McPhee stated that Mr. Richardson was asking for different standards to be applied to a challenger than to that of an incumbent. The judge told Richardson that someone running for public office should have a higher standard of truthfulness and that his statements were false.

Roach sponsored the legislation that was argued in court today.

Judge rules in favor of Roach; Richardson forced to change voter pamphlet statement
Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald Reporter
Jul 09 2010, 4:47 PM

A Thurston County Superior Court Judge ruled Friday that Sumner councilmember and 31st District Senate candidate Matt Richardson's voter pamphlet statement is untrue and must be changed.

Judge Thomas McPhee wasted little time in making his ruling in favor of Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn) on all three counts she brought forward.

"The false statements fit the definition of libel and slander that are in the statue," McPhee said, adding that in the context of a voter's pamphlet the false statements work to deprive Roach of public confidence.

The case stems from a complaint brought forth by Roach challenging as false three statements made in the statement Richardson submitted to the Secretary of State's office for publication.

According to the Revised Code of Washington (29A.32.090), a candidate's statement "shall not contain false or misleading statements about the candidate's opponent."

The statement references sanctions the Republican Caucus leveled against Roach earlier this year. Roach was thrown out of the Republican Caucus in January because of "hostile behavior" toward staff. {It is really too bad I was not afforded a judge in this case! But, that's another story.}

In his statement, Richardson wrote “Unfortunately, the permanent sanctions against Pam Roach prevent her from contact with Senate staff, and more critically, from meeting with other Republicans.”

Roach challenged Richardson on three points: First, she states the sanctions against her are not permanent, but subject to alteration by Roach and the senior leadership; second, she states there is no sanction preventing her from working with Senate staff; and third, Roach states there is no sanction that prevents her with meeting with other Republicans.

McPhee ruled in Roach's favor on all three points.

Because the sanctions against Roach can be altered, McPhee ruled they were not "permanent." McPhee said it appropriate to mention the sanctions, "but to characterize as permanent is incorrect; it's false."

As far as contact with senate staff, McPhee also ruled that is false. Though the sanctions state Roach may not deal with members of the Senate Republican Caucus, she is not barred from talking to all staff. She is also not barred from talking to Republicans, simply from having a voice in the Caucus or entering the caucus room.

In an affidavit delivered to the court today, Richardson said he never intended to personally defame Roach, but argued that his statements were true in the context of the sanctions. Richardson argued that because the leadership has made no indication of removing the sanctions, they are effectively permanent. He also said that the statements about republicans and staffing are true in context of the sanctions.

McPhee dismissed Richardson;s arguments and said that a person seeking elected office has a "higher duty" than an ordinary citizen to make sure statements in the voter pamphlet are accurate.

Because Richardson "so obviously violated" these points, it amounted to "reckless disregard" and therefore meets the libel or slander standard put forth in the statute.

"The voter's pamphlet statement should be edited to withdraw or change the three statements I have identified," McPhee said.

Richardson immediately produced a replacement paragraph for the pamphlet, but McPhee made some minor changes to that before approving it. McPhee struck the word "continuing" before sanctions and added the word "republican" before "Senate caucus staff."

After the decision, Richardson said his original statement grew out of having to obey the pamphlet's 200-word limit.

"I think my statement is kind of a victim of having to use limited words," he said.

Richardson stressed that only two words had to be changed in his statement.

Roach called the decision a "pure victory" and emphasized that the judge used the phrase "reckless disregard" in describing Richardson's statement.

"There is a high standard if you're going to be an elected individual and he's demonstrated he doesn't do that," she said.

Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald Reporter Brian Beckley can be reached at
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Anonymous said...

Let's face it. You were born to win.

Anonymous said...

congrats!!!!!So happy to read this, seems like no one can keep you down!

Anonymous said...

Dear Madame Senator, Truly a born fighter..If this were a man to man contest there may have not been issues..As it were.. coming from a appears that a man must be more contemptuious..

I am so happy that it turned out the way it should have your favour..You make us proud Senator..

As the old say goes.." When ya got 'em by the dangling participles..Their hearts and minds will follow"!!

We Love you Pam..


Anonymous said...