Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: Mark Lindquist


More must be done to stop repeat drunk drivers

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Tragedy often has a predictable aftermath: first shock and grief, then anger.

We’re at the anger stage right now, grasping for how to react to the horrendous, senseless vehicular homicide that occurred Monday in a Seattle neighborhood.

A repeat drunken driver authorities say was again under the influence struck four family members out for an afternoon stroll. Two of them, retired schoolteachers Judy and Dennis Schulte, died at the scene. Their newborn grandson and daughter-in-law, a pediatric nurse, were critically injured.

The driver, Mark W. Mullan, has a long DUI history dating to the early 1990s. Read more »


Appearance of fairness matters in picking judges

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The criminal justice system abounds in people, procedures and places: judges, courtrooms, attorneys, indictments, trials, appeals and jail cells.

But all of it stands on something insubstantial: trust. It’s not good enough that the system is fair. It must also be perceived as fair by the public.

That’s why the Pierce County Council should tread carefully as it revises its process for filling vacancies on the bench. It should not involve parties with vested interests in how cases turn out – including the Prosecutor’s Office.

There’s been a flurry of maneuvering, on and around the council, over the appointment of a replacement for Judge Jack Nevin of the District Court. (Nevin will soon move to the Superior Court.)

The council hasn’t made such an appointment since 2003, but the process it used nine years ago is theoretically still in place. The council then relied on a list of candidates supplied by a six-member panel.

That committee consisted of two members of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association, one representative of the Minority Bar Association, a representative of the state court administrator, plus the County Council’s lawyer and the District Court’s presiding judge.

They proposed a handful of candidates; the council chose from the list. Read more »


Hold adults more accountable for kids’ access to guns

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The shocking spate of shootings in the last three weeks that have left two young children dead and another gravely injured should be a wakeup call to gun owners: Unload and secure your weapons, even if you’re only leaving them for a few minutes, if there’s any chance children might gain access to them.

Actually, the first incident – in which 8-year-old Amina Bowman of Bremerton was accidentally shot with a gun brought to school by a classmate  – should have been enough to convince parents to ensure that their children couldn’t get access to firearms.

Some didn’t get the message, though, and two children have since paid for their parents’ negligence with their lives.
Read more »


Recall drives Washam’s crusade over the edge of sanity

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Alberto Ugas insists the recall was all his idea.

His boss, Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam, did not put him up to taking on Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. Nope, Ugas is acting purely as a private citizen in calling for Lindquist’s ouster from office.

A private citizen, that is, with enough passion for proper property assessment procedures to compile a 624-page petition accusing a public official of lacking the same fervor.

Uh-huh. Ugas and Washam must take Pierce County voters for fools if they believe they can pass off a recall as anything but the latest attempt to advance Washam’s age-old grudge against his predecessor.

Read more »


Not the assessor-treasurer office’s finest half hour

If Alberto Ugas isn’t regretting his decision to go up against Mark Lindquist on KOMO radio this morning, he should be.

Ugas – the Pierce County deputy assessor-treasurer who just filed a recall against Lindquist, the county’s prosecuting attorney, for allegedly obstructing justice – was a guest on John Carlson’s show this morning.

Ugas and his boss, Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam, come off as batty in print. But on the radio, when followed by a guy who makes a living winning over juries? Not Ugas’ smartest move.

Carlson quizzed Ugas, asking why it’s Lindquist in his sights when 1) Lindquist’s predecessor, Gerry Horne, also declined to pursue criminal charges for what Ugas and Washam claim was criminal conduct by the former assessor-treasurer, Ken Madsen, and 2) the prosecutor’s office doesn’t launch criminal investigations, it reviews them.

Carlson also asked Ugas whether he was pursuing the recall in his official county capacity or as a private citizen. Ugas said he was doing it as a private citizen, because “we” understand the need to not mix public duties with private initiatives. Ugas offered that he was taking a vacation day to call into the show.

Read more »


Mark Lindquist for Pierce County prosecutor

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Voters face what could be a tough decision when they pick their prosecutor in November.

The race pits incumbent-by-appointment Mark Lindquist against Bertha Fitzer, who resigned her deputy prosecutor position in August to run against her boss. Both are gifted lawyers who bring very different résumés to the race.

The smart and talented Lindquist knows how to get what he wants, whether that be the office he now holds or the successful literary career he has pursued as a sideline. He’s been endorsed by former governors Booth Gardner and Dan Evans; former prosecutors John Ladenburg and Gerry Horne; U.S. Reps. Norm Dicks and Adam Smith – and what seems to be every other luminary in the political firmament.

Lindquist, our choice in the race, is certainly qualified for the job. He’s led the prosecutor’s drug unit and played a lead role in the county’s offensive against meth labs. He’s handled major felony trials, and he served as chief criminal deputy before Horne resigned and nominated Lindquist to take his place last year.
Read more »


Hilltop Crips deserve the conspiracy charges

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Thomas Felnagle is a fine judge, but we devoutly hope he’s wrong about using conspiracy charges against street gangs.

The Pierce County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that prosecutors cannot target members of the Hilltop Crips solely on the basis of their alleged affiliation with the violent gang; any prosecutions must tie defendants to specific criminal acts they personally participated in.

As it happens, his ruling may not have much effect on the cases against three dozen suspected Crips who’ve been rounded up since February by a task force of local, state and federal law enforcement officers. That’s because there was such an abundance of crimes to charge: shootings, robberies, assaults, burglaries – more than 50 felonies in all. Read more »


Lindquist’s take on the dumb 9th Circuit decision

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist put us on to the Ninth Circuit ruling I wrote about in the post below (I hope I was scathing enough). Here is the opinion, which mandates court orders before CPS can question children at school about possible abuse. And here is Lindquist’s opinion of the opinion:

As long as this case remains the law, it will seriously handicap investigations where there is a child witness or victim. This case is the worst of both worlds. One, it will handicap investigations in cases where there was abuse and the child is not safe. Two, it will handicap those investigations where abuse is wrongly suspected, e.g. turns out the child got the black eye from rough-housing with his brother.

In some cases there will be probable cause for a court order to interview the child, but in many cases there will not yet be probable cause, and therefore the most important witness, the child, may not be interviewed. This is an obvious blow to the truth-seeking process.
Read more »