Superior Court Judges, administrator, file suit against the county commissioners

OLYMPIA – Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has appointed a Special Assistant to bring legal action on behalf of...

The Okanogan County Commissioners discuss options regarding Juvenile Detention Services last April at one of several meetings set up to hear  public comments. Among those that commented were Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Christopher Culp (front row, far left) and former Superior Court Judge Jack Burchard (front row, right) who recalled travelling to Medical Lake to check out Martin Hall, one of the options for Juvenile Detention under consideration by the commissioners, 14 years ago.
The Okanogan County Commissioners discuss options regarding Juvenile Detention Services last April at one of several meetings set up to hear public comments. Among those that commented were Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Christopher Culp (front row, far left) and former Superior Court Judge Jack Burchard (front row, right) who recalled travelling to Medical Lake to check out Martin Hall, one of the options for Juvenile Detention under consideration by the commissioners, 14 years ago. Okanogan County Planning Director Perry Huston takes notes on the big tablet. Gary DeVon/staff photos

Special Assistant Attorney General appointed

“Efforts since August 2015, to get the commissioners to act in accordance with the law and resolve the matter with very little cost to the county have been futile.”

Victoria L. Vreeland, Special Assistant Attorney General

Vreeland Law PLLC

Commissioner Sheilah Kennedy holds up a report about Okanogan County Juvenile Detention that points out faults with the detention hall, like inadequate sprinklers and doors that open the wrong way. Former Judge Burchard said that these issues had been taken care off more than a decade ago.
Commissioner Sheilah Kennedy holds up a report about Okanogan County Juvenile Detention that points out faults with the detention hall, like inadequate sprinklers and doors that open the wrong way. Former Judge Burchard said that these issues had been taken care off more than a decade ago.

OLYMPIA – Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has appointed a Special Assistant to bring legal action on behalf of the Okanogan Superior Court against Okanogan County and its individual commissioners, Sheilah Kennedy, Jim DeTro and Ray Campbell.

The Superior Court Judges, Hank Rawson and Chris Culp, along with Dennis Rabidou, Superior Court and Juvenile Department Administrator, are seeking judicial intervention to stop what they claim are improper acts by the commissioners that violate the Separation of Powers doctrine and interfere with the Court’s authority and constitutional responsibility.

“Efforts since August 2015, to get the commissioners to act in accordance with law and resolve this matter with very little cost to the county have been futile,” said Special Assistant Attorney General Victoria L. Vreeland of Vreeland Law PLLC, which also represents Rabidou along with attorney Benjamin Compton.

Commissioner Jim DeTro, when contacted said he and his fellow commissioners had advised not to comment on the litigation.

The suit claims that the “Board has been hostile to and has improperly intruded into… the management of the Superior Court including its juvenile division [and]… has interfered… with even the daily operations of the administration of the Superior Court through petty, micro-management of budgeted funds contrary to the Superior Court’s internal management and administrative prerogatives.”

The complaint states that the actions of the commissioners “have eroded the Superior Court’s ability to perform its judicial responsibilities, including creating safety and health risks in the juvenile division and lack of any courthouse security. Consequently, the personal safety of the judges, the Superior Court staff and the public is threatened.”

The suit states that Rabidou, who performs two major positions for the court saving thousands of taxpayer dollars, entered into an employment agreement with the court in 2015. But contrary to the Washington Constitution, Separation of Powers and legal authority, the Commissioners improperly instructed the county auditor not to provide the funds already allocated to the Court in its 2015 budget to pay the legally-contracted salary to Rabidou. He seeks recovery of all damages allowed by law including wrongfully withheld wages, double damages, litigation expenses and costs, and attorneys’ fees. The Superior Court seeks court orders mandating that defendants pay the salary to Mr. Rabidou, and declaring that defendants do not have the legal authority and shall not interfere with the Superior Court’s management and administration.

The lawsuit filed in Okanogan County Superior Court as required by statute will be transferred to a visiting judge in accordance with standard procedures.

Okanogan County Commissioners Jim Detrol, Ray Campbell and Sheilah Kennedy, with Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Albert Lin. Kennedy is holding up a report on the county's current Juvenile Detention Facility
Okanogan County Commissioners Jim Detrol, Ray Campbell and Sheilah Kennedy, with Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Albert Lin. Kennedy is holding up a report on the county’s current Juvenile Detention Facility

 

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