FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 8, 2003
Suspended Whistleblower Lawyer Challenges State Supreme Court Judges
Tacoma, WA—On Wednesday, May 7, 2003, Tacoma lawyer Doug Schafer filed a motion—as allowed by law—with the Washington State Supreme Court asking its judges to reconsider their six-month suspension of his law license for exposing “too much information” about corrupt former Pierce County superior court judge Grant “Cadillac” Anderson. Schafer also asked the high court to lift his suspension until it rules on his motion. Schafer says the supreme court judges are tainted by their past relationships with Anderson and his defenders, and are ignoring the post-Enron national mandate that lawyers aid society in its war on corruption.
The supreme court ruled April 17 that whistleblower Schafer should have kept the secrets of a client who gave Anderson a Cadillac as a kickback for a below-market sale of a bowling center from a dead client’s estate that he controlled before his election to the bench in 1992. Schafer investigated and reported information about Anderson to authorities in early 1996. The state supreme court removed Anderson from the bench in mid-1999 for what it then called his “pattern of dishonest behavior.” In its ruling against Schafer last month, the court repeatedly referred to Anderson as a corrupt judge. In fact, the judges wrote that “because of Schafer’s actions, a corrupt judge was exposed and the public was served by the judge’s removal from office.” But they suspended Schafer’s law license.
In his court papers, Schafer alleges that Justices Bobbe Bridge, Faith Ireland and Karen Seinfeld (a fill-in from the court of appeals in Tacoma) were tainted by their past social and collegial relationships with Anderson and his judicial peers and friends. Bridge and Ireland both headed the state judges association during the three-year period in which Anderson’s defenders privately and publicly vilified Schafer as being on a personal vendetta. Schafer contends that the judges’ sharp criticism of him in their recent ruling stems more from their long association with Anderson’s supporters than from the written records in his disciplinary case.
Schafer urges the court to consider national developments. Last week, an American Bar Association task force studying Enron and other scandals proposed that lawyers be permitted to report clients who they discover have engaged in fraud or crime while using their services. Such a proposal was rejected in August 2001 by the ABA's governing body, but a year later was endorsed by the chief justices of all 50 states. Leaders in the ABA expect that its delegates will approve the proposal when they convene in August 2003.
Schafer maintains an Internet website ( http://www.dougschafer.com) where he posts the court papers and other material relevant to his disciplinary case and to the closed case against former judge Anderson, who has resumed practicing law in the Tacoma area after a two-year suspension of his law license.