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April 10, 2007

Sullivan's Background Being Questioned

The Seattle Times is reporting that acting US attorney, Jeffrey Sullivan, may have more skeletons in his closet than the occasional racial slur -- the kind that hinge on qualification for the job of top prosecutor.

In 2004, a state Court of Appeals ruled that Sullivan, as Yakima County prosecutor, had been responsible for "egregious misconduct" in a 2002 robbery trial when he connected a stolen gun to a defendant named Alexander Martinez, even though Sullivan knew of evidence disproving the connection.

"The State prosecutor's withholding of exculpatory evidence until the middle of a criminal jury trial is likewise so repugnant to principles of fundamental fairness that it constitutes a violation of due process," the court ruled.

Sullivan claims the matter was a clerical error.

Now some critics say the case was shocking enough to question making Sullivan one of the top law-enforcement officials in the state. His supporters, though, say enough doubt remains about Sullivan's role that it shouldn't disqualify him.

"You have to place it in context — things can happen," said King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, one of several prominent backers. "He's a gifted trial lawyer in the courtroom, a wonderful advocate, a superb manager."

It seems the path to finding a replacement for McKay is becoming something of a long, hard slog. Sullivan, as McKay's right-hand man, appeared to be an easy fit for the job. Dozens of years of experience, well-regarded, etc. etc. etc. And, in actuality, there may be nothing to this latest red flag. The problem for the WA State GOP is that, with every turn, it looks more and more inept.

Has Maleng done an about face on his promotion of Rick White? If I was Maleng, I'd be running away from that Rick White mistake too. After all, it's just not good PR to promote someone for an attorney's job when he's not even licensed to practice. But now that Sullivan is facing questions, and Mike Vaska isn't seriously being touted by anyone, even those who put him on the short list in the first place, the search for McKay's replacement may be back at square one.

Posted by shoephone on April 10, 2007 at 08:39 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

Comments

'"You have to place it in context — things can happen," said King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, one of several prominent backers. '

I think the GoOPers will have to do better than the old "shit happens" excuse here.

Posted by: op99 | Apr 10, 2007 10:34:15 AM

Since the GOP seems to be having a tough time finding one of their own to fill the spot, I guess it would just fly in the face of reason to even consider looking at Democrats, wouldn't it? The people of Washington State would be best served by the best qualified - regardless of party - but that might be a little too radical an idea to consider.

Posted by: Anne | Apr 10, 2007 10:48:32 AM

Interrrrresting, or should I say "fraught and fraughter"? This incident three years ago came after Sullivan had been trying cases for decades; "clerical error" might fly as an excuse for an inexperienced litigator, but much less so for a seasoned one. Those '79, late-'80s, and '91 incidents don't freshen the air much either, do they?

Maleng probably didn't think close vetting would be likely ("Who could have predicted ... ?" being the Goopers' Greatest Hit lately), but lo an' behol', here he is looking at ANOTHER mess.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving crowd, and that's the truth, so help me God.

Posted by: lotus | Apr 10, 2007 10:52:55 AM

One might think that this sort of conduct would get someone disbarred.

No, wait! I forgot that the Washington State Bar Association never disciplines government attorneys. Bureaucrats protect bureaucrats, and the WSBA are the slimiest bureaucrats in the entire State.

Posted by: Brenda Helverson | Apr 10, 2007 9:22:01 PM

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