Judge Rick Porter: Cry Baby or Corrupt?

Rick Porter(1) face

Rick Porter: Cry-baby or Corrupt?

Opinion by Dale Wilson


Clallam County, and all governments, are required by law to provide defense attorneys to anyone accused of crimes–if they cannot afford to hire their own attorney. This is codified in the 1966 Miranda v Arizona decision by the United States Supreme Court.

For 30 years Clallam Public Defenders’ office, a non-profit law firm, has provided this service to indigent defendants brought up on charges in Clallam County. Not once in these 30 years has the county been sued for inadequate indigent defense.

Outgoing Commissioner Jim McEntire, on his way out the door, thought it a good idea to disrupt three decades of successful indigent representation by appointing one of his friends, Will Payne as the new indigent defense counsel.

Payne is now in private practice.

McEntire’s efforts are buttressed by the antics of District Court Judge Rick Porter who privately threatened to bar all lawyers from the Clallam Public Defender’s office from appearing in “his” court room. This would ensure appointment of McEntire’s friend as the new indigent defense counselor. Porter was in the audience at the county commission meeting when the deal was supposed to go down.

Few knew of Porter’s threat until County Administrator, Jim Jones put it in his executive summary, by which he recommended commissioners appoint Will Payne, new indigent defense counsel.

Since Payne was defeated in his bid to become the elected County Prosecutor he has picked up indigent defense duties, contracting with the city of Port Angeles, to provide counsel for city-charged defendants.

In the executive summary, delivered to the county commission, Jones outlines weaknesses in each of the two bids delivered to the county for indigent defense contracts. Jones cited as the weakness in Clallam Public Defender’s bid: “District Court Judge Rick Porter and Clallam Public Defender Director, Harry Gasnick have a long-standing and very serious professional/personal dispute.” Jones did not explain the nature of this long-standing dispute.

The weakness in Payne’s bid, according to Jones, is the fact that Payne is a good friend of outgoing County Commissioner, Jim McEntire.

Port O Call attempted to interview Porter to determine the nature of this “long-standing dispute” but Porter declined an interview as he hurried up the back stairs of the court house after leaving the county commission meeting whereat this contract award was being discussed.

The daily paper sought to quiz Porter on this “long-standing dispute” but, according to the PDN, “Porter was not immediately available.”

Port O Call requested, via U. S. Mail, a 15 minute interview with Porter and received no response.

Community leader, Norma Turner, holding up a New York Times bestselling book titled: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, addressed the commissioners saying, “adversarial relationships between judges and attorneys are good for clients. If you look at the whole legal system it is based on contention.”

Without some better explanation of this “long-standing dispute” it looks like Porter is using his judicial office to steer a government contract to one of the “good ole boys.”   If he was not attempting to influence the award of a contract then he is clearly incompetent. A mature legal mind would have known the ramifications of such a comment and would have been ethical/professional enough to keep his professional pains to himself.

If it is because Clallam Public Defenders is too hard on him, appeals too many of his rulings, wins too many of these appeals, causes his sentences to be modified or dismissed, causes him to obey the court rules, then he is doubly inept.

Judge Porter, it is time to put on the record the exact nature of this dispute. If it is personal you are being childish and immature. If it is professional you need to put the facts out there and let the public know just exactly why you threaten to bar an entire law firm from practicing in what you consider “your” court room.

Short of this you are perceived as attempting to influence the award of a million dollar government contract which is illegal and unethical and you should resign.


  1. R2

    Porter has been quoted as saying what he does is “establish what is acceptable behavior,” yet when I tried to tell him of illegal behavior by Clallam County deputies, including assault, illegal and personally invasive search, threats and criminal harassment he turned away from me saying “I can’t advise you legally.”

    Power corrupts and it’s obvious Porter has become corrupted. It’s happened before, e.g. Sheriff Steve Kernes & his captain, Bob Hamlin (who filed false charges with city police that I’d threatened to kill him after I began speaking publicly about crimes they’d committed and former prosecutor Dave Bruneau, who colluded with Kernes and refused to talk to me about these crimes) so Porter is not unique, and he may have at one time been ethical and honest, but that time is past. He should resign and move on to private practice while he still has somewhat of a reputation to build his career upon. The longer he stays on the bench the more it appears he should be brought before it.

    1. lainey

      I totally agree…I have never seen such biased opining …where everyone is guilty just cause he feels like it!!

  2. Jkd

    Will Payne was the prosecutor who accepted a 31 yr old to serve only 60 days after a guilty plea to first degree rape of an 11 yr old over the coarse of two years. He should not be welcome in this community.

  3. Robert Bell

    Wow and I had begun to believe that something was not entirely up to par with judge Rick porter. sadly I am a convicted felon like most of the majority homeless in port angeles, clallam county, I had my fare share of run ins with the law and currently have warrants at this time, so I don’t expect you to take what I about to say at face value and not to assume that I’m just trying to make something up, but i, have been in porters courtroom more times than I’d like to remember or count, needless to say since 2004 i have had many encounters with judge porter. but through these last 11 years I have heard judge porter say to others as well as to my self, ask what’s my story and why haven’t I paid on my fine or what’s the reason the why I can’t. Before he gives someone a chance to explain or to talk he will mention at times that he has been here long enough and heard every story there is as to why a person can’t or hasnt, that either has not been able to or couldn’t make his or her minimum payment. It has been my unfortunate experience to hear this from him multiple times. and in the beginning I did make payments and after some personal family problems that involved getting divorced and other losing custody rights, let’s just say I had bigger worries on my mind. and with the attitude of fuck it all and everyone and thing. I quit making payments. witch was unwise on my part. Back to the subject though, so while I was about to explain what I was going through and it occurs to me. that having just watched someone just go up before me, I knew the person very well as most of us who appear in any courtroom in clallam county, I knew why third payment wasn’t made and it was clear to everyone in the courtroom and anyone who might of witnessed the person before judge porter that they were still under the influence of meth, and was picking at their face while telling him him why they hadn’t made their payment, with poorly applied makeup. trying to cover up the many other pick marks on their face that they just couldn’t afford to make a minimum payment because their ssi check wasn’t enough to cover thier bills, rent and utilities, that they just didn’t have. the money, and all the while it’s documented they live in a trailer park. and both wife and husband both collect ssi. so it’s more than plain to see and no need to guess where they’re money went to. he looks up. at the person and says they clearly need to budget thier money better and to try and make a payment next month so he doesn’t have to see them in his courtroom with another excuse.and as I stood before him and instead of explaining about getting divorced and lost custody problems, I tell judge porter, Sir I apologize for not having made my payment, and that there is no excuse that I could tell him that would excuse or justify any reason for not doing so, and that he would listen to that. he wouldn’t think or believe that i was attempting to excuse making my payment automatically assuming that I’m no different then the rest trying to get out of not paying on thier fines. so I plainly said I had no job or any income of any kind to make a payment with at the time being, and that I would make a payment as soon as I was able to. and he didn’t even look up at me or read my file and said well Mr.bell I don’t believe you have any interest in paying on your fines that you can just sit them out downstairs in county jail. and at that time the court clerk bless her, she looked at my file reading my info and got his attention and pointed out to him that my charges and fines are all superior court matters and that he didn’t have the authority to make me sit met fines out in jail. and then said to make sure and make next month’s payment or he would issue a bench warrant. and then dismissed me. as I was leaving I said good luck to the next in line and left. but I will always remember him saying that he’s heard it all and every story and excuse there is having been there so long. it is my belief that since having been district court judge long enough to hear every excuse and story or reason there is that he’s not the ethical or professional judge with an unclouded judgement decision making judge he might of once been. and it’s clear that he has not been for some very long time. and that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he were indeed trying to influence a million dollar contract to a good o’le boy as was mentioned, and that in fact in by doing so it wouldn’t further surprise me to learn that by doing so that he’d even get share of the money for doing so by abusing his authority of his courtroom. Anyway I Robert M. Bell. of port angeles. do give permission to make my thoughts herein stated to make public if found valid or to help prove judge Rick porters un-professionalism and or abuse of authority. in fact it would tickle me pick if I have helped in any way. and since I currently have 3 warrants cause I just cannot find it in me to turn myself in to department of corrections for reason I’ll keep to myself at this time, it would be so unexplainibly sweet to see it in the local paper my letter here helping to unseat him from his seat of authority, and to know that he and other officials will or have read this with knowledge of warrants, while still at large that I helped. wish I could see the look on his and thier faces while reading and finding out who helped and still haven’t caught up with to send back to treatment, to capture they’re looks would be priceless and cherrished for all time, as well as never forgotten by all our local community of felons and convicts as well as port authorities. happy New years and best wishes to everyone, Sincerely Respectfully Yours, Robert M. Bell

  4. Debbie Jagger

    Corrupt is an understatement. His “beef” with the Public Defenders office is they keep him accountable for all of his inappropriate and illegal behavior on the bench. He has had an agenda since the day he took office too many years ago and he is the only one on it. He should be removed from the Bench. If only the public knew what goes on behind closed doors. He does not follow the law. He does whatever he wants whether it is legal or not. It’s time for him to go!

  5. JLM

    a few years ago I was charged with a dui and reckless endangerment. after some back and forth negotiations between my attorney and prosecution, I decided on a deffered prosecution,and the reckless endangerment charge would be included. when I aproached the stand porter read the proposal, laughed, and told me to sit back in the court until the end. this time the state an my attorney sat there and they were going to drop the endangerment and grant me a deffered. So at the end I went back up and he again read the new deal, laughed and said no. I then plead guilty of the reckless endangerment and was granted my deffered. All jail time was suspended and a 500 fine. porter asked when sentencing “has anyone threatened or coearsed you to plead guilty”? I so wanted to say “yeah, you just did twice”! Well I shut my mouth and got 10 days. Did I deserve it? yes I did. but don’t ask if anyone threatens you then do it yourself.

  6. Anthony Linde

    Stop asking Judge Porter and ask Harry Gasnick what the conflict is . I have never known Harry to back down . Just one persons thought

    Editor’s Note: Port O Call asked Gasnick to explain what Porter was referring to and said simply “read the executive summary.”

  7. keith moffett

    Ok pot o crap fauxmedia. Inferances are not facts. People who post opinions from a defendants view are not facts, at best they are suspect opinion. I dont know what your issue with Rick Porter is but this is nothing more than a hit piece. If you dont like Porter go break the law in Forks. Porters predicessor is on the bench again out there. Porter may not be perfect but doesnt deserve this!
    Editor’s Note: Thanks for writing Keith, you are the first to defend Porter. While it is an opinion it is a fact-based piece. If you can find flaws in the facts presented please do so. Behavior described in the piece is no way for an mature judge, 13 years on the bench, to behave.

    1. Richard Wade

      Keith, I wholeheartedly agree with you, Rick Porter doesn’t deserve this, he deserves to be disbarred and removed from the bench for intentionally committing fraud! Go online and search for Porter’s “Public Disclosure Commission C1 Candidate Registration Form”. This is an official Washington State Agency and this form is required by law. Look in “Box#7”, there’s four names listed, the third of which is Judge Landis. She’s a Jefferson County judge from Port Townsend. Porter lists her as one of four “expenditures officers” on his re-election committee. Now go down to “Box#11, which depicts Rick Porter’s signature directly below a Certification affirmation statement which reads, “I certify that this report is true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge.” During a small claims hearing Judge Landis was asked about her involvement as “expenditures officer” and was given a copy of said document for her review. Judge Landis stated for the record, “That is my name but I’m telling you I have nothing to do with his re-election committee.” So, your black robed champion intentionally deceived the State of Washington and Clallam County voters for reasons unknown. I can only imagine it has something to do with his insatiable ego but that would strickly be based on speculation, and you were only interested in the FACTS. If you are interested in further FACTS Mr. Moffett, what I just referenced is all public record, but I will speculate once more, that people like you are not interested in “The Facts”, that’s why you probably read the PDN and voted for Ole Ricky Boy in the last election. I for one voted for Kathy Marshall, since principles and integrity matter in my book! And remember this, integrity once compromised can NEVER be regained!

  8. A

    Porter once said in open court “everyone who walks through my door is guilty, im just deciding whether or not to reduce their fine.”

  9. MJB

    Two words = debtor’s prison.

  10. Kelly270

    I can clearly remember Judge Porter, (during his campaign reelection times), stating that he has NEVER put anyone in jail for not being able to pay a fine, also in the same article saying that the person who bails you out will always get the money back! Both were cold faced lies. How does this man continue to perjure himself and basically get away with murder?

  11. Kathleen Smith

    Judge Porter is a bully, deliberately cruel, loves to see you squirm. Classic, garden-variety bully. He truly seems to enjoy using acid sarcasm, sanctimonius lectures, and shaming tactics geared to discredit, embarrass, and punish those unlucky enough to find themselves in “his” court. Being feared and hated appeals to him. He’s a nasty, sly, dangerous little man. His narrowmindedness, immaturity, and ignorance are harmful to Clallam County residents. PURE BAD EGG! Rotten to the core.


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