State Supreme Court tosses recall petition against Mayor

After hearing the case on an expedited schedule, this afternoon in a brief two-page order the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously rejected as “factually and legally insufficient” a recall petition filed against Mayor Durkan and certified by a lower court.



You may recall that King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts threw out all but one allegation against Mayor Durkan as either factually or legally insufficient to be grounds for a recall petition. The one remaining allegation she certified in a narrower form:

Charge B alleges that Mayor Durkan failed to institute new policies and safety measures for SPD to prohibit the use of tear gas and other chemical crowd control agents by SPD when such use would be particularly detrimental to public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Recall Petitioners further allege that Mayor Durkan knowingly allowed SPD officers to continue to use chemical crowd control agents over many days without concern for the health and well-being of the community, constituting misfeasance, malfeasance, and violation of oath of office. Any  alleged failure of Mayor Durkan to prohibit use of chemical crowd control agents by SPD based on the early conduct before she can be said to have been aware, are legally and factually insufficient. To the extent the allegations pertain to failure to step in to stop the use of chemical crowd control agents after Mayor Durkan is alleged to have become aware of and opposed to their alleged use on peaceful protesters as a means of crowd control, such allegations are legally and factually sufficient to go forward.

Without providing any detail (yet) into their reasoning, the Supreme Court justices reversed Judge Roberts’ ruling and dismissed this allegation as factually and legally insufficient too.  The petitioners had also asked the Supreme Court to reinstate two allegations that Roberts had dismissed; they declined to do so.

In today’s ruling the Court noted that it would be issuing a full opinion “in due course.” But since it is the final court of appeal for a recall certification under state law, the recall petition against Mayor Durkan is now dead.

In related news, earlier this week Councilmember Sawant appealed the certification of a recall petition against her to the state Supreme Court. As of this writing, a request for an expedited hearing schedule has not been submitted to the court (as it was for Durkan’s case). Unless that happens, the case could stretch out into late spring of 2021.

And in case you’re keeping score, the state Supreme Court currently has two other petitions on its docket:

  • the recall of Benton County Sheriff Gerald Hatcher;
  • the recall of Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza.


I hope you found this article valuable. If you did, please take a moment to make a contribution to support my ongoing work. Thanks!