Frequently Asked Questions
Question #1: Why did you represent Hamilton after his comments suggested he was engaged in unethical practices?
Question # 2: Wasn't the evidence in the public record of the judge's misconduct sufficient to remove him without also disclosing your client's comments?
Question #1: Mary S. e-mailed on Jan. 7, 2000:
I sympathize with your plight. However, I have to ask why you would provide legal representation to someone who is engaged in unethical practices. Perhaps you became interested in other's unethical behavior too late. I believe your arguments would hold more water if you had refused to assist in the incorporation and notified Disciplinary Counsel than to have conducted your own investigation after the fact.
REPLY by Doug Schafer to Mary S. on Jan. 8, 2000:
Mary, the answer is that Hamilton's 8/92 comments were not that conclusive of fraud, but just enough to make me wish not to get involved in or know any more about the underlying transaction. He had come to me only to form the corporation, anyway, not to document the purchase transaction. I had done selected legal work for Hamilton (as had many other lawyers that he used for various tasks) for many years. He characteristically bragged, boasted, and exaggerated about assorted things, so it was not possible to know just which comments were truthful and which ones were not.
In 1990, I had done for him the legal work to form a small bank with about 30 shareholders; the next year I represented him in a major proxy contest against an entrenched board of a publicly traded bank. He was, until then, a good client who occasionally hired me for some quite interesting and lucrative projects. I enjoyed him as a client, and I had never thought that he had or would knowingly act illegally. He was just, in my mind, an opportunist and a wheeler-dealer who had been very successful as a bank CEO for, by then, about 25 years. I knew nothing about Grant L. Anderson, or Pacific Lanes, or the Hoffman Estate at the time that Hamilton made his boastful comments in 8/92.
During the Bar's cursory 1996 investigation of Anderson, Hamilton admitted to having said in 8/92 exactly what I said that he did (in my Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury), but he convinced the Bar's lawyer that he meant "milking the estate" as a compliment for Anderson's "making the estate productive." He said the "good deal" referred to the terms, not the price, etc. As for the repayment, it was just a statement of his intention, and he convinced the Bar lawyer that he merely meant to properly compensate Anderson for past and future services rendered.
Forming a corporation is about as routine as preparing a power of attorney -- and doing so does not mean that you are participating in any future abuses committed by the person given the power of attorney. How many tax return preparers prepare returns for clients even after the client has uttered some comment that leads the preparer to have some doubts about the client's honesty? The most a professional can do is inform the client of what the law requires, and rely on the facts as relayed by the client. What should a tax return preparer (who might be a lawyer, especially of estate tax returns) do when they hear a questionable comment, "fire" the client, or insist on and charge the client for a full audit (which certainly will cause the client to fire the preparer).
If you continue to think that it was unethical for me to have prepared the few papers to form Hamilton's corporation (a trivial $300 task), then well, as lawyers learn early in law school, reasonable minds may differ. You are entitled to your opinion.
Thanks for reading my website [http://bigfoot.com/~d_schafer/ or http://members.aa.net/~schafer/],
Doug Schafer, Idealistic Lawyer in Tacoma, Washington.
Queston #2: Kathleen J. (Oregon lawyer) e-mailed on Jan. 3, 2000:
I have read your website, and agree that judicial integrity is of utmost importance. One of my points, however, is that it doesn't appear that you made any effort to reveal the dishonesty of this judge without revealing client confidences. For example, how much of his conduct was public record? Would the public record portion have been sufficient to have him removed from the bench, or at least resulted in an investigation? Perhaps if you had begun with this approach, this entire discussion would be unnecessary.
REPLY by Washington lawyer Doug Schafer on Jan 9, 2000 [slightly expanded from the actual reply for this website posting]:
Well, Kathleen, one can always speculate just how much evidence a prosecutor needed to present to obtain a conviction, particularly evidence the public display of which invades privacy interests of innocent parties (e.g., rape and child abuse cases). Once a conviction results, it's easy to Monday-morning-quarterback and chide the prosecutor for going overboard. That criticism rarely surfaces when the jury hangs or acquits, notwithstanding all the evidence presented to them.
I was exposing a corrupt sitting judge, who 3-1/2 years later was finally removed by the Supreme Court ONLY after the Legislature "snarled" at the Court and threatened to remove him itself if the Court failed to do so. The Commission on Judicial Conduct, which had all of the evidence that I had given it and much, much more from its 18-month investigation, recommended only Judge Anderson's 4-month suspension from office. The CJC's seasoned investigator (a lawyer) abruptly left in July 1997 (the month before the CJC charged Anderson for the "appearance of impropriety" in accepting the Cadillac payments), and I believe that she quit in frustration at the CJC's lack of INTEGRITY illustrated by its unwillingness to expose the full extent of Judge Anderson's corruption. I strongly feel that a "grand jury" type investigation (in which witnesses are protected from retaliation) into the CJC and State Bar disciplinary systems is needed.
Even with all the evidence that I presented in March 1996 to the Washington State Bar's Office of Disciplinary Counsel, it began its investigation (after the prosecutor closed his) on May 1, 1996 and declared it closed on August 15, 1996, reporting there was NO EVIDENCE of any misconduct by lawyer Anderson or any of his law firm colleagues.
The Bar's Disciplinary Counsel Julie Anne Shankland (who was promoted to Clerk/Counsel to the Bar's Disciplinary Board) stated in her closure letter [excerpt linked here] that Hamilton even admitted to her that he said exactly what I reported in my Feb. 16, 1996 Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury ("Perjury Declaration") that he said to me in 8/92, but he convinced her that he meant "milking an estate" as a compliment on Anderson's handling of the Hoffman Estate and that his intended payment was legitimate payment for Anderson's past and future services. The Bar disciplinary authorities STILL have found NOTHNG IMPROPER in any of lawyer Anderson or his several lawyer colleagues' exploitation of the Hoffman Estate.
Pierce County Prosecutor John Ladenburg, with whom I met directly on about Feb. 5, 1996, and to whom within 3 weeks I provided all the evidentiary documentation (including my Perjury Declaration), purported to investigate. By May 1, 1996, his investigator Frank Clark issued a Memo declaring that there was NO EVIDENCE of any crime by Anderson or his friends, and essentially suggesting that I was a kook (supported by Clark's false statements about me pestering him daily). Ladenburg immediately gave this Memo to Judge Anderson who began circulating it widely, but only gave me a one-sentence letter. (I obtained the Memo by a FOIA-type demand in Feb.1997.) Veteran Prosecutor John Ladenburg is often mentioned as a likely candidate for Washington Attorney General's Office as soon as Christine Gregoire ascends to higher public office, but announced on 1/13/00 his candidacy for the office of Pierce County Executive (election to be in the fall of 2000).
The Office of the Attorney General ("OAG") of Washington seemed to me to have jurisdiction, since the victim of Anderson's exploitation of the Hoffman Estate was a rural public hospital. The OAG had intervened a few years earlier in a case where a Seattle lawyer was exploiting a trust to the detriment of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (a popular Seattle charity). Hutchinson Cancer Research v. Holman, 107 Wn.2d 693, 732 P.2d 974 (1987). From 1/96 through 4/96, I provided most or all the documentary evidence (including my Perjury Declaration) of Anderson's exploitation to Assistant A.G. Jeffrey T. Even (though he was demonstrably disinterested) and met for about an hour personally with him and Deputy Attorney General David E. Walsh (one of OAG's five Deputy AGs) to go over everything with them. Deputy A.G. Walsh's response was to dismiss it all and immediately provide to Judge Anderson my key accusatory documents (even before the Pierce County Prosecutor's office had closed it's so-called investigation.) [Click here to see the OAG correspondence, eventually obtained through a public records request.]
My guess is that the OAG leadership counted the voters in the rural hospital district (in Pacific County) and wrote them off as insignificant in the big picture, for only the populous King-Pierce-Snohomish County voters really count in statewide elections. It was much wiser politically to curry favor with the judiciary and popular Judge Anderson, who is politically well-connected in Pierce County and statewide among educators (having served "with distinction" for 24 years on the State Board of Education, including service as its President and also as President of the National Association of State Boards of Education!). [I can't help but wonder how many "commissions" Anderson got from cutting deals with school contractors and others!]] Attorney General Christine Gregoire, after all, aspires for higher state office (Governorship or U.S. Senate being most often mentioned) and having allies like Grant Anderson in the influential education circles would plainly help her. By the way, in 1994 Judge Anderson even had been a last-minute candidate (betting on his educator base of support and "common name familiarity" to step into retiring Chief Justice James Andersen's position) for the Washington State Supreme Court, but finished fourth of five in the primary election for the position later won by Justice Talmadge, a 16-year state senator.
After I requested on Feb. 2, 1996, Judge Anderson's recusal in my Barovic trusts and estate case (telling him that I thought his handling of the Hoffman Estate would lead to his removal), the next jurist before whom I stood, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Donald H. Thompson (now retired and selling his services through Gordon Thomas Honeywell), summarily disqualified me from further representing my client. Judge Thompson lacked the integrity to admit that his action sprang from my accusation of his colleague Anderson, claiming that it sprang only from two letters I had written the previous year to all the Pierce County judges imploring them to address deplorable guardianship practices. I had appended them to my recusal request to support my further request for reassignment of the Barovic cases to an out-of-county visiting judge.
I appealed my summary banishment, appending to my appellate petition 59 pages of documents (including my Perjury Declaration) showing the substantial evidentiary basis upon which I accused Judge Anderson of misconduct. It was obvious to any honest, moderately intelligent person that my accusations of Judge Anderson were the reason, or at least a very significant factor, why Judge Thompson had summarily banished me. Court of Appeals Commissioner Donald Meath made that observation in two rulings that he made, even though Judge Thompson had prepared and filed (impermissibly) a false declaration with the Court of Appeals claiming that "The personal attacks against Judge Anderson were not considered by me in my decision." [If true, why call the statements "personal attacks"?]
On April 26, 1996, as soon as I had filed in the Court of Appeals the 59 pages documenting Judge Anderson's misconduct, I faxed the first 15 pages (including my Perjury Declaration and my Memos to Appropriate Officials) to the newsrooms of The Morning News Tribune (Tacoma), the Seattle Times, and the Seattle Post Intelligencer, expecting they would pounce on the story. One of my Memos was addressed to Frank Clark, investigator in the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office. The journalists contacted him or Prosecutor Ladenburg and they convinced the journalists that there was nothing of substance to the accusations by "kook" Schafer, so they ignored me. So much for the "watchdog" press -- that still appears unwilling to delve deeply into this story. [Someone famous once said something like "The price of liberty is vigilance." I submit that "liberty and justice for all" is now a hollow phrase, in this area at least.]
At the first Court of Appeals hearing, Commissioner Donald Meath, on his own initiative without any party requesting it, ordered his court's clerk to seal my 59-page appendix documenting Anderson's misconduct so that nobody from the public could read it. The appellate case then ran its course with everybody but me pretending that my "personal attack" on Judge Anderson had nothing to do with my summary banishment by Judge Thompson. The Washington Court of Appeals (Div. II) judges published their opinion which continued that charade and misrepresented the facts of the case to justify their decision to deny my client, Mr. Barovic, any relief from the vindictive treatment by Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas Swayze (now retired) who took over where lying Judge Thompson left off (he recused himself just before he banished me, citing his prior stock ownership of Key Bank, a co-executor in the case). The published Court of Appeals opinion is Estate of Barovic, 88 Wn. App. 823, 946 P.2d 1202 (1997), rev. denied 136 Wn.2d 1011, 966 P.2d 902 (1998).
I expressed my frustrations about the then three-year-old Judge Anderson case in a December 1998 letter the Ocean Beach Public Hospital District's attorney as I tried to prod him to hasten the release to me of its public records showing the half-million dollar settlement of its fraud and other misconduct claims against Judge Anderson and his friends by saying:Kathleen, it sounds good to hear a lawyer say "judicial integrity is of utmost importance," but unless lawyers, jurists, elected officials, and journalists demonstrate by their actual actions that they truly believe that, then nobody else should. Perhaps Oregon's judicial and other public officials have integrity, but I am convinced that Washington's do not. And nobody merely telling me otherwise will make a believer of me — I can only believe something if I see credible evidence of it. I hope someday that I will."Forgive me if I get too emotional about such antiquated concepts as “truth,” “justice,” and “morality,” but I think about “the Judge” every day, and being able periodically to vent in this manner perhaps keeps me from acting out my “vigilante justice” fantasies. It is possible to get somewhat unstable when the trusted public institutions (the judiciary and its disciplinary system, the bar and its disciplinary system, law enforcement and prosecutorial officials, public interest journalists) that one has believed in for decades have been shown to be virtually worthless — with no one else seeming even to notice or to care."
And Kathleen, please don't tell me that "it doesn't appear that you made any effort ..."
Douglas A. Schafer, Idealistic Lawyer in Tacoma, Washington.
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