State Supreme Court will consider appeal in Sawant recall case in January

(Image: @try_thinking0 via Twitter)

December will bring new developments in Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s appeal of the recall case against her to the State Supreme Court.

Sawant’s legal team launched the appeal in October following a King County Superior Court judge’s decision that allowed the recall effort against the District 3 representative and longest serving member of the council to move forward.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to take up and decide on the appeal January 7th in a session in which legal briefs from Sawant’s team and lawyers for the Recall Sawant campaign will be considered but there will be no oral arguments. Continue reading

More legal fallout for Seattle’s handling of months of unrest: 50 protesters suing for personal injury, wrongful death, and civil rights violations

The July 4th medical response on I-5 (Image: @nowah_j)

Protesters and family members of Summer Taylor filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle and the state for personal injury, wrongful death, and civil rights violations during Black Lives Matter protests. The lawsuit was filed in September. 50 plaintiffs, including journalists, protesters, and family members of the Capitol Hill activist hit and killed by a speeding driver on I-5 are represented by Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore and Cedar Law PLLC. A new claim was filed Thursday on behalf of one of Cedar’s clients who they say was injured by police while protesting in the East Precinct Wednesday night. While being arrested out of a group of protesters on suspicion of a property crime, Kel Murphy-DuFord was slammed to the ground by officers. His attorneys say witnesses heard the crack on impact and saw his head hit the pavement hard. Murphy-DuFord is currently receiving care at Harborview where he is now listed in satisfactory condition according to a hospital spokesperson.

Police say Murphy-DuFord may have suffered a medical episode “related to a substance the subject had ingested prior to police contact” but offered no further details, an account his lawyers say is “designed to turn public attention away from police misconduct and towards a victim who currently is unable to speak or stand up for himself.”

The lawsuit is part of a wave of legal fallout from the City of Seattle’s response to months of Black Lives Matter protests. The largest could be a lawsuit brought by a collection of Capitol Hill real estate developers, property owners, and small businesses suing the city over the CHOP protest zone. In October, CHS reported on a key decision by a federal judge in the case allowing the suit to move forward. The SKKM and Cedar cases could also be costly for the city. Continue reading

911 | Canterbury booze burglary bust, Central District gunfire, Seattle catalytic converter theft wave

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS 911 coverage here. Hear sirens and wondering what’s going on? Check out Twitter reports from @jseattle or tune into the CHS Scanner page.

  • Canterbury burglary bust: A 22-year-old has been charged after police say he was caught in the act trying to burgle ten bottles of booze after allegedly breaking into 15th Ave E’s Canterbury Ale House. Prosecutors say Ocean Nemeyer has been charged with second degree burglary in the Wednesday, October 28th break-in. According to the SPD report on the incident, police were called to the 15th Ave E bar just before 5 AM to a report that a burglar could be seen on live video from the Canterbury’s security system. Police arrived to find a busted window and were waiting to enter the bar when they say Nemeyer ran from inside carrying three bags:According to court documents, the suspect was charged in Seattle with misdemeanor theft in late 2018 and also had two active warrants in King County. He has not yet entered a plea. CHS reported previously on a surge in burglaries around Capitol Hill especially involving commercial properties and businesses.
  • CD gunfire: Multiple reports of gunfire from the area near Miller Park into the Central District were made late Monday night as police found evidence of a vehicle-involved shooting along 23rd Ave. According to East Precinct radio updates, gunfire was reported by 911 callers starting around 11:15 PM. Police were able to pinpoint the shots to the area near 23rd Ave and Marion where a shell casing was found nearby. Police closed 23rd Ave between Marion and Spring for a short term while they collected evidence. They were also searching the area for at least one vehicle believed to have been involved in the shooting. There were no reported injuries. Continue reading

Seattle City Council shows support for changes to allow poverty, addiction, and mental illness as defense for misdemeanor crimes — but legislation will probably have to wait

The City Council on Wednesday debated a budget proposal that would lead to making poverty, mental illness, and addiction possible defenses for people accused of misdemeanor crimes in Seattle.

The proposal from West Seattle representative Lisa Herbold would lead to the creation of new defenses allowed under the city’s code for misdemeanor crimes in an effort to keep more people out of incarceration to reduce the city’s costs utilizing the King County Jail and reduce so-called “poverty crime” in the city.

Herbold said Wednesday that the effort would give Seattle courts the authority to hear a defense with transparency about the conditions that led the defendants to the alleged crimes and would help reduce city jailing costs. Continue reading

Arrests and charges against duo in bat and Molotov cocktail attacks on East Precinct — and a glimpse inside black bloc

Charges against two friends police say were responsible for Molotov cocktail attacks at the East Precinct, fires in the streets of Pike/Pine, and the bat attack on a riot officer during a September clash with police that made national headlines provide a glimpse into the ongoing black bloc demonstrations on Capitol Hill and across Seattle and reveal the simple clues that allowed detectives to track down the suspects.

Seattle Police and the King County Prosecutor announced the arrests in the most high profile recent protest incidents and charges against Jacob Greenburg, 19, and Danielle McMillan, 29, this week.

Greenburg, a Kirkland resident, is charged with first degree attempted arson, reckless burning, and first degree assault for the September bat attack on an officer after police moved in on a large crowd of protesters demonstrating against injustice in the Breonna Taylor case as a grand jury in Kentucky declined to file homicide charges in the March 2020 killing of the 26-year-old Black woman. Greenburg also faces a charge of being armed with a deadly weapon in the attack. Police say the teen has no known criminal history.

McMillan, who lists an Everett address, is charged with first degree arson and also has a limited criminal record. In 2018, she was busted for reckless driving, and was charged with obstruction in 2011. She also faced minor drug charges in 2009, the court records state.

Both are scheduled to enter pleas on the charges next week.

The prosecutor’s office says the case is one of around 20 it is handling from arrests made during months of protest across the city. “The overwhelming majority of protest-related arrests are never referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office,” the office said in a statement.

In the court documents, police describe the baseball bat attack that left the officer stunned but not seriously injured, and a series of Molotov cocktail attacks and arsons around the East Precinct that Greenburg and McMillan are alleged to have planned and taken part in. Following the attack on the officer, police asked for the public’s help tracking down the suspect and began searching for more information about the person seen striking the officer in video of the assault circulating online. Police say the duo also made incriminating statements to each other via text. “can we like pls slit every spd throat,” the 19-year-old is alleged to have texted. Continue reading

Lawsuit over Capitol Hill protest zone can move forward: City of Seattle loses important first round in CHOP legal battle

A lawsuit brought by a collection of 12th Ave real estate developers, small businesses, and residents against the City of Seattle and Mayor Jenny Durkan over the handling of this summer’s CHOP Capitol Hill occupied protest zone can move forward, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Judge Thomas S. Zilly of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington denied the city’s motion to dismiss the case, ruling in favor of three of the four claims against City Hall alleging that city leaders violated property rights by allowing a dangerous protest and encampment to continue for weeks.

“Plaintiffs plausibly allege that the City’s actions — encouraging CHOP participants to wall off the area and agreeing to a ‘no response’ zone within and near CHOP’s borders — foreseeably placed Plaintiffs in a worse position,” the judge wrote in his decision. The full decision can be found at the end of this post. Continue reading

Inside the Eisenberg-Neighbor Lady lawsuit: urinal cakes and $200K in bar furnishings

The battle at 23rd and Union between landlord and pot shop owner Ian Eisenberg and former tenant the Neighbor Lady bar turns out to be more than a war of words. Behind the scenes, CHS has learned Eisenberg is suing the bar owners for more than $300,000 over removed furniture and what the retail marijuana entrepreneur claims is a campaign of disparagement against him including the ultimate insult — urinal cakes bearing his likeness in use at Neighbor Lady’s sister bar, The Twilight Exit.

Lawyers for Stephan Mollman and Thomas Vivian have denied the allegation.

The lawsuit, filed in April and amended to include allegations including the urinal cake episode this summer, continues with the latest filing earlier this month moving the case forward. In it, lawyers for Eisenberg say they are seeking $200,000 over the removal of “light fixtures, neon signs, bar sinks, hooks, speakers, table tops, a bar, and a foot bar” from the bar adjacent the 23rd and Union Uncle Ike’s, as well as $50,000 each in damages from Mollman and Vivian over the disparagement allegations, as well as an additional $50,000 from the Neighbor Lady business, plus “indirect and consequential damages,” and legal costs. Continue reading

Kshama Solidarity campaign raising thousands in recall fight

The City of Seattle is covering the legal costs in Kshama Sawant’s fight against a recall campaign. The incredibly popular socialist leader’s fans — most also Seattle taxpayers — are giving to the cause, too.

“We’ve set a goal of raising $100,000 by October 31st, the end of our first full month of fundraising,” the pitch for the Kshama Solidarity fund reads:

We need to make abundantly clear to our opposition that working people won’t stand by while our movement is under threat. Defending Kshama’s city council seat is critical for continuing to build the movement to defund the Seattle Police Department by at least 50%, to win progressive funding for community programs and affordable housing, for community oversight and control of the police, and for working people to continue to have our voice in City Hall.

Kshamasolidarity.org shows more than $80,000 has already been raised.

The Sawant fundraising effort officially registered with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission last week with an opening filing of nearly $30,000 in donations — most in amounts of around $150 or less, and most from people listing Seattle addresses. Continue reading

Want to join the CHOP lawsuit against the city? You have until February as trial date set for 2022

The Seattle City Attorney’s office and lawyers for a collection of Capitol Hill property owners and businesses suing over the CHOP occupied protest zone have agreed on at least one thing: if the case ever goes to trial, justice will take years.

According to the latest filings in the case, both sides in the CHOP lawsuit have agreed they won’t be ready for a trial until February 2022 — one year and seven months from the day Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered the camp raided and swept.

CHS last reported on the case in August as lawyers for the real estate companies and small businesses suing City Hall countered the City Attorney’s efforts to have the class action suit dismissed. Seattle’s motion from the summer focused on an argument that you can’t sue over a city’s “inaction” to protest. remains on the table but, for now, the federal class action case moves forward. Continue reading

‘Recall Kshama Sawant’ — Court to decide if recall against District 3 leader can move forward — UPDATE: ‘Certified for election’

The homepage of the recall campaign’s site

UPDATE 4:44 PM: The recall campaign can move forward. Judge Rogers ruled Wednesday that the charges in the case are sufficient to certify the petition on the four allegations argued in the day’s hearing and that the matter can now move forward to the election process meaning signature gathering to place a vote on the ballot.

In the decision, Rogers outlined his role as gatekeeper and noted there is evidence to support both the recall effort and Sawant’s responses to some of the alleged improprieties. “(I)n this proceeding, this Court’s role is not to weigh factual disputes over allegations,” Rogers writes, “but to examine whether, if the the allegation, taken as true, are sufficient.”

Details on the four allegations that will move forward in the recall process are below. The full response from Rogers is embedded here..

Sawant was scheduled to make a speech to supporters following the decision. According to a Sawant representative, Sawant will launch an appeal supported by the City Attorney.

Judge Jim Rogers, top right, Iglitzin, top left, and McKay, bottom during the Wednesday morning videoconference hearing

UPDATE 12:30 PM: The closure of City Hall this summer due to the COVID-19 crisis and Kshama Sawant’s appearance at a protest outside Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Northeast Seattle home could be key factors in the decision on whether the recall effort against the District 3 councilmember should move forward.

In a Wednesday morning hearing, Judge Jim Rogers heard Sawant’s legal counter arguing against certifying the recall petition against her that would clear the way for a ballot decision on her recall next year.

In his presentation to the judge, Dmitri Iglitzin of the Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt law firm representing Sawant argued the recall effort lacks “specificity” and said the issues cited are political and not legally substantial. “This is not a campaign event,” Iglitzin said.

Meanwhile, Davis Wright Tremaine lawyer John McKay representing the recall campaign said Sawant’s acts including opening a COVID-closed City Hall to protesters and participating in a protest in front of the “confidential” location of the mayor’s residence are violations worthy of the recall being sent to the ballot. Continue reading