With elections coming up around the corner, you can always count on a virtual ****storm out of the political arenas. Stevens County is no exception, it appears that they and Snohomish County are the rule.
There is a highly contested judicial election going on in Stevens County between Judge Gina Tveit (Pronounced Twight) and a Stevens County Prosecutor Mr. Radzimski. It basically amounts to the “Good Old Boys” fighting a woman that most believe should be barefoot and pregnant in a kitchen somewhere.
Add to that the numerous emails I’m getting saying what amounts to that she’s not a warm and fuzzy gal.
I have no idea what that has to do with her ability to sit on any bench in the land, but in Stevens County evidently you have to submit to the menfolk and be as pleasing as pie.
Apparently, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen is still lying to the courts, having his Judge friends sign illegal orders, sexually harassing people and giving his charity donors cases, even if he has to make them up or create them himself…
Anyway I felt it best to just paste the entire webpage here because as we know these things disappear after the elections. I have submitted it to the Internet Archives though just in case.
It’s imperative to ensure that our county maintains an impartial and constitutionally protected District Court.
During this campaign season, many harmful personal attacks have been directed at Judge Gina Tveit, the coordinated nature of which reveals a disturbing concentration of power within the Stevens County Prosecutor’s office that threatens, in the upcoming election, to undermine the independence and integrity of the Stevens County court system.
Most of these attempts involve the participation of the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office, where Judge Tveit’s opponent works as a deputy prosecutor and is “second in command” under Tim Rasmussen.
Also working as deputy prosecutors under Rasmussen are Radzimski’s wife, Christy Radzimska and her brother, Nick Force.
In January 2018, Prosecuting attorney Tim Rasmussen and Spokane attorney Brendan Kidd were involved in the submission of local newspaper articles, during which Mr. Radzimski’s candidacy was announced.
Mr. Kidd is a former co-worker, and campaign contributor and endorser of Mr. Radzimski.
The information provided to the media included half-truths, innuendo and false conjecture that accused Judge Tveit and District Court of a sexual harassment coverup.
Unfortunately, none of the local news outlets made any attempt to contact Judge Tveit or the Court prior to disseminating the initial one-sided story.
With the power and authority of the Prosecutor’s Office, this type of behavior has continued throughout this campaign without restraint and without apparent regard for the truthfulness of the statements being made.
The following material constitutes a fact-based response to some of the more egregious mistruths that have been disseminated during the course of this campaign.
THE R.B. TORT CLAIM
On August 30, 2017, the District Court Administrator was contacted by R.B., a Defendant serving on the workcrew based on her third conviction for DUI. The Defendant informed the Administrator that the workcrew supervisor was using inappropriate language referencing the District Court Administrator herself. At no time during her brief contact with the District Court Administrator did R.B. mention any incident involving sexual harassment or any other improper conduct. The workcrew supervisor is an employee of the Public Works Department and is managed at the Stevens County Landfill site in Kettle Falls. The District Court Administrator immediately contacted the Stevens County Solid Waste Manager and relayed the information she had received. Within 24 hours, the Solid Waste Manager had discussed the matter directly with the workcrew supervisor and arranged for a second landfill employee to be present for all future workcrew operations starting the very next day. Contrary to news reports based upon information supplied by the prosecutor’s office and attorney Kidd, the allegation that R.B. was forced by the Court Administrator to return to the work crew, with the threat of consequences if she did not, is flatly and unequivocally untrue. In reality, the Defendant actually only served only one more day on the workcrew which was on August 31, 2017, the very next day after her conversation with the Court Administrator, and it was with the second landfill employee present.
A few months later on November 28, 2017, despite strict ethical rules prohibiting prosecuting attorneys from having contact with represented defendants, Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen openly acknowledges that he met with R.B. without the presence or permission of her court-appointed attorney. The indigent Defendant was then referred to private Spokane attorney Brendan Kidd during their discussion, whereby the Prosecutor’s Office took an active role in urging forward a lawsuit against the county. Within one week, Mr. Kidd filed his notice of representation of the Defendant on the DUI criminal case, replacing her court- appointed lawyer AND on January 19, 2018 he filed notice of a civil tort claim against the county, threatening a 2.5 million dollar lawsuit based on alleged sexual harassment and the patently untrue allegation that this had been previously reported to District Court. Prior to this, Judge Tveit and her Court Administrator had no knowledge of any allegation that the Defendant had been sexually harassed on the workcrew. After a full investigation, the Stevens County insurance pool was unable to find any merit to the claim and denied any form of settlement to the Defendant.
JUDGE TVEIT’S PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST
In an attempt to uncover the truth surrounding the Benjamin civil lawsuit, Judge Tveit filed a Public Records Request to obtain all records relating to allegations of wrongdoing on the workcrew. Forty-five days after the request was made, all records of any significance were denied. Importantly, the letter refusing to produce those records was signed by deputy prosecutor Christy Radzimska, none other than the wife of Lech Radzimski. A large number of documents relating to the Benjamin work crew issue were withheld—including 16 separate documents containing communications between Tim Rasmussen, Deputy Prosecutor Nick Force (the brother-in-law of Lech Radzimski) county commissioners Wes McCart and Steve Parker, public works director Jason Hart, solid waste manager Kevin Dionnes and attorney Brendan Kidd.
JUDGE REEVES ORDER IN THE R.B. CASE
On October 25, 2017, Superior Court Judge Reeves, a current endorser and former co-worker of Mr. Radzimski, signed a District Court Order vacating the criminal sentence of R.B. There is no legal authority for a Superior Court Judge to sign an order in a pending District Court case. Of further concern, Judge Reeves had previously served as the deputy prosecutor on this case. The order, which was signed “off the record,” was presented to Judge Reeves in private by Tim Rasmussen and deputy prosecutor Nick Force (brother-in-law to Lech Radzimski). There was no legally tenable ground for vacating this criminal sentence, nor are there any findings of fact in the record to justify it. It is well established that the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits Judges from participating in cases in which they were once attorneys. Further, The Rules of Professional Conduct state that it is misconduct for a lawyer to assist a Judge in conduct that is in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The “back room” dealings through which this criminal sentence was made to disappear occurred in defiance of the most basic rules of criminal procedure and in derogation of the “open courts” guarantees of the federal and Washington state constitutions. The multiple, very serious, irregularities surrounding Judge Reeve’s order promted Judge Tveit to issue a formal set of findings. On November 15, 2017, Judge Reeves entered an Order Vacating her prior Order, citing her previous role as the prosecutor on the case, and acknowledged her impropriety. Subsequently, Judge Tveit voluntarily recused herself from the case.
SUPERIOR COURT V. DISTRICT COURT
On January 29, 2018, the Stevens County Superior Court administrator, a supporter and endorser of Lech Radzimski, spontaneously announced that it would be hearing all District Court first appearance cases. This highly unusual action, which was clearly intended to strip the District Court of a portion of its jurisdiction, highlights an unhealthy alliance between the Superior Court and the Prosecutor’s Office and a concentration of power that threatens the independence of the judiciary. Judge Tveit requested a meeting with Superior Court to discuss the justification and authority for their actions. This request was met with no response. Again, in a second communication, Judge Tveit informed Superior Court that without further discussion, the District Court Clerk’s Office would be instructed not to file Superior Court Orders and again requested a meeting to discuss. This second request was also met with no response. A third request was sent to Superior Court by Judge Tveit, urging the Superior Court to meet and discuss the confusion and excessive burden being placed on jail and court staff because of their actions. Interestingly enough, within three (3) minutes of Judge Tveit sending this email to Superior Court, it was forwarded by the Superior Court Administrator to Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, who in turn forwarded it to the entire prosecutor staff. Instead of ever meeting with Judge Tveit, the Superior Court being represented by the Prosecutor’s Office filed a Petition to Lincoln County Superior Court Judge Strohmaier, seeking to “command” District Court to accept the Superior Court filings. This legal action required the county prosecutor, Tim Rasmussen—who is charged with the duty of providing legal representation to BOTH courts, to pick sides and resulted in a glaring conflict of interest. A hearing was held on February 21, 2018, where Judge Tveit defended the District Court’s constitutional right to hear its own cases. The court ruled in favor of Judge Tveit and rejected—lock stock and barrel—the prosecutor’s contention that the Superior Court has a right to intervene in District Court cases. The conclusions of Judge Strohmaier’s ruling after hearing both sides of the case, were as follows:
- Superior Court does not have the authority to make decisions in existing District Court unless acting in an appellate capacity.
- The Prosecutor, acting as the legal advisor for all county departments, has a potential conflict in representing the Superior Court in a suit against the District Court, stating, “the best course of action would have been for the Stevens County Prosecuting Attorney to avoid such a potential conflict of interest and withdraw from this case. . . and request that the county commissioners appoint a special prosecutor.” The Judge further noted, “(actually . . . it appears that it [the Prosecutor] is asserting itself in the action).”
- District Court was entitled to seek reimbursement for its costs and attorneys fees in having to defend this unaurthorized assertion of authority.
While the Superior Court Judges appear to have accepted Judge Strohmaier’s ruling and have discontinued their attempts to preside in District Court matters, the Prosecutor has not. Despite the clear potential conflict of interest, Mr. Rasmussen continues to expend county resources in pursuing an appeal of Strohmaier’s decision to the Court of Appeals.
VETERAN’S COURTPerhaps one of the most disheartening fallouts of Tim Rasmussen’s bid to assert his influence within the Stevens County justice system is not the tax dollars that have been wasted but the price paid by the individual defendants. The most egregious instance of this ongoing problem involves the veterans who are or could be participating in the Stevens County Veterans Court. Though charged with the responsibility of supporting eligible veterans in the program, the Prosecutor simply refuses to do so. Despite consistent requests made by the Veterans Court Team, Tim Rasmussen will not participate in monthly Veteran Court meetings. His deputy prosecutors do not attend established hearings and meetings as commonly practiced and outlined in the best practices guidelines for Veterans Courts. Since its establishment in 2013, the Stevens County Veterans Treatment Court has demonstrated phenomenal success both in lessoning the financial burden on the county and in the personal accomplishments of the individual participants. Yet, after nearly five years of positive Veterans Court growth and success, Tim Rasmussen has seemingly “pulled the plug.” He no longer allows his deputy prosecutors to fully participate in Veterans Court dockets thus crippling the effectiveness of the Veterans Court program. During one Veterans Court docket, when questioned about his deputy prosecutor’s absence by Judge Tveit, Tim Rasmussen replied, “I don’t know . . . perhaps he’s sick.” A few days later Tim Rasmussen, along with Lech Radzimski’s brother-in-law Nick Force, invited the Veterans Court Coordinator, Marty Brown, to a private meeting. During that meeting, Marty Brown states that Tim Rasmussen told him, “I know why my deputy prosecutor was not at the staffing hearing. It was because I told him not to be. Sometimes you have to lie to the Judge in order to protect your employees.”
THE FINAL ANALYSIS
In the final analysis, the Prosecutor’s Office has demonstrated on-going efforts to exercise inappropriate control in the Stevens County justice system. The motivation for these practices is both self-serving in the face of an election and threatens to undermine the independence of the judiciary and the rights of defendants to an above-board process. Complaints are now pending outlining serious ethical breaches with the bar association and judicial conduct commission stemming from these concerted efforts. What is clear from the public records is that there has been one figure in the courthouse who has pushed back against this unlawful expansion of prosecutorial power and influence, the result of which has been an endless barrage of mudslinging and personal attacks against Judge Gina Tveit. The significance of the pending election is clear as it could result in the prosecutor’s office continuing its attempts to expand its power by putting a deputy prosecutor in position of District Court Judge while his immediate family members remain under the authority and control of the elected prosecutor, OR the retention of a Judge who has demonstrated a commitment to standing up to efforts to destroy the independence of our local court.