Gaylord, Linde didn't list disciplinary action on governor's questionnaire for judge candidates

By Richard Walker
and Scott Rasmussen

Randy Gaylord and John Linde each failed to disclose an action taken against them — Gaylord, a sanction; Linde, an admonishment — when they were interviewed for the Superior Court judge appointment last year.

"Should those have been listed and answered in the questionnaire? We think they should have been," said Pearse Edwards, Gov. Christine Gregoire's communications director. He answered questions from The Journal after reviewing the issue with Richard Mitchell, the governor's general counsel. Mitchell participated in the interviews of the judge candidates last year.

Linde was ultimately appointed judge. He and Gaylord, the county prosecuting attorney, are running for a full term as judge in the Aug. 19 election.

Gaylord and Linde each filled out a Uniform Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire from the Governor's Office when they were being considered for appointment by Gov. Christine Gregoire. Of the 53 questions they were required to answer, two asked if they had ever been "the subject of a complaint to any bar association, disciplinary committee, court, administrative agency or other professional group" or "disciplined or cited for breach of ethics or unprofessional conduct."

Gaylord and Linde each listed complaints that had been dismissed or in which no findings had been made.

But Linde did not disclose that he had been admonished by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct in May 1995 for taking 13 months to issue a decision in a small claims case. Linde, a part-time District Court judge at the time, misplaced the case file in his law office. He first heard the matter on Aug. 26, 1993. Linde didn't issue a decision until Sept. 30, 1994.

The order of admonishment is the least severe of three actions taken by the Commission on Judicial Conduct. The most severe is censure, the next is reprimand. The order noted that Linde had been a judge for 18 years and had had no prior disciplinary action, and that "the instant event is an isolated occurrence."

And Gaylord did not list that he had been sanctioned in December 1996 by Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock for filing a motion that attempted to undo an agreement made with a Shaw Island group's attorney, Peter Eglick, in a land-use case. Hancock determined the motion to be "frivolous." He also ordered the county planning department to revise its policies on handling complicated permit applications.

Gaylord said the governor's office found out about the sanction "during the interview process ... they followed up on that and I did describe it in detail to them."

Gaylord said he didn't believe he needed to list the sanction because no order was entered by the court. "No written order was entered. This was an announcement."

Likewise, Linde said his admonishment was more "a warning" than a discipline or sanction.

Reiko Callner, an attorney and executive director of the Washington state Commission on Judicial Conduct, said Linde should have listed the admonishment.

"I could see, not unreasonably, how he might have felt he didn't have a conflict of interest, he got busy and wasn't adequately administering his case load," she said. But she said the admonishment determined that he had failed to make a timely decision in the small claims case in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and should have been disclosed on his questionnaire.

Edwards, the governor's spokesman, agreed.

"We would want that to be listed," he said. "It doesn't rise to a breach of ethics or unprofessional conduct. It's more an administrative error. But it should have been listed. It helps us get a picture of the person's record."

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