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Justice Sanders dissents from decision to disbar child molester

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on Dec. 20, 2007 at 1:58 pm with No Comments »
December 20, 2007 1:58 pm

The Washington Supreme Court has upheld the decision to disbar former Puyallup attorney and judge Jeffrey Day.

Day (at left) was convicted of first-degree child molestation in 2004 for fondling an 11-year-old boy who he once represented. He was sentenced to five years in prison. (I’m pasting a story on the conviction below).

A hearings officer later determined Day should lose his license to practice law. Day appealed, saying his license should be temporarily suspended, not permanently revoked.

In a ruling released Thursday, eight of the state’s nine Supreme Court justices upheld the hearings officer’s decision.

The majority decided “a lawyer molesting a former client who is a minor qualifies as an act of moral turpitude warranting disbarment.”

Justice Richard Sanders dissented. Sanders said suspension was the appropriate discipline for Day under current rules for lawyers, and that revoking his licence went too far.

Here’s a link to the majority decision.

Here’s Sanders’ dissent.

Judge guilty of molesting boy

Jurors side with 11-year-old who said Puyallup attorney fondled him Jurors convict an Orting judge of molesting an 11-year-old boy he befriended after serving as his lawyer.

By Karen Hucks

Words: 596

Friday,October 8, 2004

Edition: South Sound, Section: South Sound & Local, Page B01

A Pierce County jury chose the word of a boy over the judge on trial, and Thursday convicted Jeffrey Day of first-degree child molestation for fondling an 11-year-old former client.

The 12 men and women said they believed the boy, who testified that Day – a Puyallup attorney and Orting’s Municipal Court judge – had put his hand inside the boy’s boxer shorts while he slept at Day’s home Feb. 15.

As Superior Court Judge Thomas Felnagle read the verdict, Day shook his head and blinked hard, his face flushed. Behind him, the boy’s mother cried while she grasped hands with her father and a victim advocate.

“I had faith in the system that’s been pretty shaken at this point,” Day said as he was led from the courtroom to Pierce County Jail by a correctional officer.

The victim’s grandfather said the child “acted like the adult and did the right thing to keep this man from doing this to anyone else. Now he can get over it, knowing he did the right thing.”

Day, a criminal defense and personal injury attorney since 1993, has been a substitute judge in Pierce County since 1996 and Orting’s judge since 2001. He led a local bar association committee, and had been the public defender for the City of Sumner for at least seven years.

He also led the percussion section of Everett’s Cascade High School band.

Now, Day will have to register as a sex offender and likely faces between four years, three months and five years, eight months in prison. Under the state’s sentencing law for sex crimes, he could be held in prison for life if a Department of Corrections review board holds him.

Felnagle will sentence him Nov. 5.

Because he was convicted of a felony, Day’s license to practice law will be temporarily suspended until the State Bar Association can hold a disciplinary hearing for him.

It took the jury about 3 1/2 hours to reach a decision. One juror said two colleagues initially weren’t convinced of Day’s guilt, but the panel kept deliberating.

“We just talked about credibility and believability,” the man said.

Deputy prosecutor Kevin McCann and Brett Purtzer said jurors told them they found the boy more believable than Day. They thought Day’s demeanor on the witness stand was inappropriate and his explanations implausible. The boy had more to lose than gain by making the accusation, they said.

Day met the boy in February 2002 when he became his lawyer. After an arson charge against the boy was dismissed, they maintained a friendship, going to dinner, the mall, a football game and a band practice.

Day said he never touched the boy sexually. He said that on Feb. 14, he’d taken the boy’s pants off after he fell asleep to make him more comfortable and had touched the child’s chest when he seemed restless early the next morning.

The youth’s mother said she’d always been a cautious parent, but she trusted Day to be a guide and a confidant for her boy.

“A lot of it was because he was a lawyer, he was a judge and he was a band teacher,” she said. “I thought, this guy’s going to be a winner.”

Now, she said she trusts no one.

“Everything I did to try to keep (my son) from getting hurt in the world backfired,” the mom said, crying as she sat in the courthouse hallway. “I wish it didn’t happen. I wish we could go back and make it go away.”

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