District Court Judge Rick Porter attempts to “anoint” successor on his way out.
Not content with attempts to commandeer and re-direct a million-dollar contract for indigent defense, outgoing District Court Judge Rick Porter is now attempting to anoint his campaign manager, Dave Neupert as his successor in November.
Readers may remember a while back when Porter claimed he had a “conflict” with the Clallam Public Defender’s office and they would be unwelcome in “his” court room. He did not claim a conflict with a particular attorney in the public defender’s office but a conflict with ALL of them.
Port O Call reported this as a clumsy attempt to re-direct a government contract to one of his political cronies.
Now, after Porter’s announcement he would not run for re-election to a 5th term, he bailed from the bench to (allegedly) go active with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for 60 days. On his way out the door Porter appointed yet another political crony, Dave Neupert as his “fill-in” judge at the tune of $75 per hour. This means Porter will continue to receive his judge’s salary plus his active duty pay from the military (allegedly) while taxpayers pay for both these salaries and the substitute judge’s salary.
During Porter’s fawning interview with the daily paper Porter could not say enough about what a great job Neupert would do as his fill-in judge. It was as close to a political endorsement as a sitting judge could get without prompting yet another investigation by the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Reader’s may remember Neupert was Porter’s re-election campaign manager during Porter’s last campaign for his current term. Reader’s may also remember voters soundly rejected Neupert when he ran for Superior Court judge against Brian Coughenour.
Readers may also remember a plethora of false entries on Porter’s campaign finance forms filed with the state’s election commission. All presumably filed by Neupert as campaign manager.
Now, back to that million dollar contract for indigent defense. When Porter’s attempt failed to bar the entire public defender’s staff of defense attorneys from “his” courtroom he came back with another plan. In this latest scheme Porter wants to set up yet another crony, sequim attorney Larry Freedman, to be a “Commissioner” for district court. In this new plan Freedman would sit as a gatekeeper and appoint selected (connected) attorneys to provide indigent defense at district court.
Rumors around the courthouse say attorney Karen Unger threatened to sue the county commissioners if they instituted such a program.
Both Neupert and Freedman are Porter’s “hand-picked” pro tem judges in district court.
All of this needs to be in proper perspective. Clallam Public Defenders provided indigent defense in this county for three decades. During this time the county has never been sued for improper indigent defense services.
Why change? So the sitting judge can decide who will get to practice indigent defense in district court.
Instead of Porter being able “double-dip” into taxpayer money and also attempt to anoint his successor he should go ahead and resign and allow the county commissioners to appoint his temporary replacement to sit until the upcoming election in November.
Otherwise, this is beginning to resemble third-world machinations with our court system.