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Washington State supreme court to hear arguments in West recall case

Washington State supreme court to hear arguments in West recall case

Washington State supreme court to hear arguments in West recall case

She had to wash a lot of cars to get there, but unemployed Spokane, Wash., mother Shannon Sullivan is in Olympia, where she is set to tell nine state supreme court justices Wednesday why her recall petition against Spokane mayor Jim West should be allowed to proceed."She's nervous but confident," said her lawyer, Jerry Davis, who's representing her for free. Sullivan and several of her supporters held a car wash two weekends ago to help cover her expenses. Davis declined to say exactly how much money the car wash raised, but he said they washed 102 cars--enough to cover plane tickets from Spokane to Seattle for Sullivan and her 9-year-old son plus modest hotel accommodations. West has refused numerous calls for his resignation since May, when The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane launched a series of articles about how the conservative Republican--a former state senator and longtime opponent of gay rights--was meeting men in gay online chat rooms. The newspaper hired a computer expert to pose as an 18-year-old man on the Web site and reported that in addition to having sexually heated online conversations, West encouraged the young man to apply for an internship at city hall. Sullivan contends that was inappropriate because of the possible implication that the man would get the internship in exchange for sexual favors. The newspaper also reported that two men allege West sexually abused them decades ago. West has acknowledged being gay and meeting men online for sex but vehemently denies ever abusing anyone or misusing his office. He has not been charged with any crime, but the FBI is investigating. Sullivan filed a recall petition on three grounds. Two of those were thrown out by Spokane County superior court judge Craig Matheson, but the petition was allowed to proceed on the remaining contention, that West used his office for personal gain. The mayor appealed to the state supreme court. If his appeal is rejected, Sullivan and her supporters can begin collecting the 12,600 signatures needed to force a recall election. West's lawyers, William Etter and Carl Oreskovich, have argued that Sullivan's recall petition is based on innuendo and insinuation; that newspaper articles are not proof of misfeasance; and that Matheson went too far in rewriting the petition to meet legal requirements after Sullivan submitted it. Etter was not available for comment Tuesday, his office said, and Oreskovich did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Lawyer Mark Hodgson, who has provided some free legal advice to Sullivan and will argue in her support Wednesday, insists he isn't out to hammer West. He says he's just trying to defend the average voter's right to petition for an elected official's removal from office. "It's not our position to make value judgments on Jim West," Hodgson said Tuesday as he prepared for the arguments. "The main point I'd like to get across tomorrow is that Shannon Sullivan has a right to this recall." At this point, he said, Sullivan doesn't need to prove that the allegations against West are true, only that they are sufficient to warrant a recall vote and that she has a reasonable basis for being aware of the allegations. The truth of the allegations and their significance is determined in the court of public opinion when a recall election is held, he said. The days leading up to the hearing brought a flurry of legal filings, with West's lawyers on Monday asking to include an additional Spokesman-Review article in the court record. Davis objected to that and suggested the request was simply a ploy to create busy work for him with the hearing drawing near. He filed a motion Tuesday asking the court to sanction them for it. (AP)

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