Oaths are cheap and actions speak louder than words! Such is the case regarding David Neupert, candidate for Judge on the Clallam County Superior Court.
I suppose I should consider myself lucky that Mr Neupert, and his charming wife Claudia Houston, sued me in civil court, providing me a front row seat to what Judge Porter’s District 1 Court principles and ethics look like.
Neupert’s claim: Our dog bit his dog on our property. The injury was the result of an “uninvited” visit by their pooch “Sophie”. Neupert sued for just over $800. (I offered to pay half at the onset, which was the eventual outcome.)
The real treat was witnessing Mr Neupert and Judge Porter in true form, right down to cronyism at its finest! Forget the fact both individuals swore oaths of office, to include the Washington State Bar Association’s Creed of Professionalism, which states in part, “As a proud member of the legal profession practicing in the State of Washington, I endorse the following principles of civil professional conduct, intended to inspire and guide lawyers in the practice of law: In my dealings with lawyers, parties, witnesses, members of the bench, and court staff, I will be civil and courteous and guided by fundamental tenets of integrity and fairness.”
Now, I’m not disputing the “Civil and Couteous” aspect, both were as courteous to one another as a 16 year old boy on his very first prom date! Impartial too! When Judge Porter called our case aloud he elevated himself in his seat and started aimlessly scanning the court room searching for Claudia Houston and Neupert as if he had no clue as to who they were. The exaggerated body-language was theatrical.
Forget the fact Neupert practiced law just down the street from the courthouse and Neupert is often appointed Judge Pro Tem by Porter in the same court. Forget the fact Mr. Neupert, at that time, was “Treasurer”of Porter’s re-election committee. And last but not least, never mind the fact Mr. Neupert and Claudia Houston were the sole occupant’s of the front row bench, almost directly in front of Porter. With the aforementioned in mind, this is where the “interest of justice”, expedience of the court process, along with fairness and equality…” take a dive!
This was the first of many opportunities in which Porter and/or Neupert could have declared a “Conflict of Interest”, or suggest an appearance of bias motion. In my opinion, neither had the ethical wherewithal to step up to the plate and do the right thing, if for no other reason than to maintain the dignity of the judicial system and uphold the perception of fair and impartial treatment for all. Not a squeak!
In actuality, Judge Porter did not declare a “conflict of interest” until our third court appearance, which just so happened to be our trial date! I arrived with two witnesses in tow ready to present my defense only to be subjected to Porter’s bantering of recusal, stating he and Neupert are good friends and they’ve known each other for years and it would be unethical to proceed. I had to remind Porter that Neupert was also his re-election treasurer, a point he failed to mention.
Even with Porter’s untimely recusal, there was still something missing. Claudia Houston. Without Claudia as primary witness/plaintiff the case would have been dismissed. So here’s the question, how did she know we weren’t going to trial? There’s only one explanation, an ex parte communication between “old friends”.
Ex parte communication occurs when one party in an action has a direct communication with the judge in the second parties absence.
I never received notification of this communication as the statue requires. Instead, judge Porter set a new court date, indicating the Honorable Judge Jill Landus from Jefferson County, will be presiding. Finally, some impartiality, some judicial relief from the charade Porter and Neupert were acting out. But then it hit me, I’d seen that name before!! I removed a copy of Rick Porter’s “Public Disclosures Commission C-1” report from my file, completed and signed by Porter, listing David Neupert as Treasurer and signed in kind. And right there, by Porter’s own pen, Judge Landus’ name was glaring at me! Porter’s audacity and arrogance knew no bounds!! And Neupert sitting there as quite as a church mouse. What a pair to draw to!!
The story doesn’t stop here but I think you get the picture. One more tidbit, as it turns out Judge Jill Landus is not a committee member of Porter’s re-election committee, so why the deception, your guess is as good as mine!
Having retired from a fulfilling and successful law enforcement career I know what “fairness and equality” look like in a court room, and this wasn’t it! This was a simple civil case, Superior Court is a whole different animal! In my opinion, neither individual deserves the privilege/honor of wearing the black robe as both have compromised the principles and integrity of their oath of office. I believe integrity once lost can never be regained so, with that in mind, I know who I’m voting for, and it’s not David Neupert. I hope this information will help you decide as well. Respectfully!