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Point/Counterpoint: Uniform Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire
In an open letter to Judge John Linde, attorney Tom Evans of Olga raises the issue of a disciplinary matter that was not included in Linde's Uniform Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire, which Linde completed when he was being considered by the governor for appointment to the Superior Court. Linde contacted The Journal on Friday and said he had received a copy of Evans' letter, and asked for an opportunity to respond. Here are their letters.
An open letter to Judge John Linde:
You ask that we trust you have been honest in winning the nomination from Gov. Gregoire and also trust that your widely reported Republican roots will not affect your judicial temperament. But I see evidence of a Bush-style cover up and question your honesty with Gov. Gregoire and your judicial agenda. And here is why.
In response to the Governor’s Uniform Judicial Evaluation Questionnaire, Question 39, “Have you ever been disciplined or cited for breach of ethics or unprofessional conduct?” you answered “No.”
Further, in response to Question 38, “Have you ever been the subject of a complaint to any bar association, disciplinary committee, court, administrative agency or other professional group?” you failed to list, in the list of six malpractice suits against you and four Bar complaints, any mention of what is surely the most serious ethics breach of all, namely the Official Sanction meted out against you by the Commission on Judicial Conduct on June 2, 1995. There, you stipulated, while acting as a District Court judge, you violated Canon 3(A)(5) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which states judges must perform their duties “impartially and diligently.”
Why didn’t you tell Gov. Gregoire you were sanctioned by this state’s highest authority on judicial ethics for misconduct? Why haven’t you made your responses to Gov. Gregoire’s questionnaire public, in the same way your opponent, Randy Gaylord, has?
What are you hiding Mr. Linde? And why?
Trust, like respect, is something to be earned. Until you have earned the right to be trusted by the citizens of San Juan County, thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take my trust from Randy Gaylord, who has earned my respect and trust, and has nothing to hide.
The position of Superior Court judge is non-partisan. Since you do not know me and have never practiced before me, you could not possibly know if I have political “roots,” let alone what they are.
I can tell you that since first assuming the bench as San Juan County District Court judge in 1977, I have had no political affiliation. Quite frankly, I prefer voting for individuals rather than ideology.
As for my “judicial temperament”: it is unfortunate that you have no personal knowledge to speak from. If you had, you would know that I am patient, courteous, and impartial. I encourage you to consult with any attorney or litigant who has appeared before me to confirm that.
And as for my “judicial agenda”: that would be to apply the law to the facts of each case and to decide impartially and without bias or prejudice. My “agenda” is driven by my love of the law and my desire to resolve issues, not exacerbate them.
As required, I listed the suits and bar complaints filed against me. I also made it clear that I was not found to have committed malpractice and no bar complaint was found to have merit. There were no ethical breaches.
You are correct that I made a mistake in completing the governor’s evaluation questionnaire. I unintentionally failed to note that in 1995 I was admonished for failure to diligently decide a small claim. I was not sanctioned. No penalty was imposed. An admonishment is a written action of an advisory nature that cautions a judge not to engage in certain proscribed behavior.
When completing the questionnaire, I had been off the District Court bench for eight years. My focus in answering the questions was my 35 years of private practice. I simply overlooked the admonition. That was the only incident in my 21 years on the bench.
While the failure to disclose the matter was unintentional and not intended to mislead the governor or her staff, I owe them all an apology. I am sorry.
As for making my responses to the governor’s questionnaire public, they are public.
Hon. John O. Linde
San Juan County Superior Court judge