Will state Supreme court halt county council election?

By Steve Wehrly, Journal reporter

As baseball teams gird for a long season of balls and strikes, Stephanie Johnson O'Day has already reached the playoffs in her case against the Home Rule Charter amendments approved by the voters last November.

On March 22, O'Day, plaintiffs' attorney in Carlson v. San Juan County, took three more swings as she tried to hit a game-saving home run before the nine justices of the Washington Supreme Court.

O'Day's "swings" consisted of a Petition for Direct Review, a Request for Accelerated Review and a Motion for Preliminary Injunction - all in support of her contentions that the high court should short-circuit the appeals process by taking the appeal directly from the trial court, consider the appeal immediately and temporarily suspend at least the counting of ballots for the April 23 election of the new three-person County Council.

If the court denies the first petition, the case will be sent to the lower Court of Appeals for a decision which could take months, according to O'Day. After a Court of Appeals decision, O'Day (or County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord, if he loses in the Court of Appeals), could ask the Supreme Court for a further review.

If the supremes take the case at this stage (because it presents "novel" or "important" issues), they might still turn down the quick review request, hear the case in regular order and issue a final decision later this year. Refusing the accelerated review request would likely mean that the Supreme Court also rejects the preliminary injunction motion. A trial court has previously rejected O'Day's attempt to stop the election.

O'Day was heartened that the Supreme Court requested Gaylord to respond to her filings by Friday, March 29.

"We're encouraged that the Supreme Court recognized the importance of the issues we presented," she said.

Gaylord said that he filed a response to the direct review petition and a statement in opposition to the accelerated review request Wednesday, March 27, and plans to file his brief opposing the preliminary injunction on March 29.


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