IS THE FIRST AMENDMENT DEAD IN WASHINGTON STATE?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 21, 2014) — On Thursday, a group of “the People” filed 12 criminal complaints with the Stevens County, WA prosecutor’s office for the sitting sheriff‘s alleged failure to swear an oath of office ten days before taking office and filing it in the public record as required by state law.
The sitting Stevens County Sheriff is Kendle Allen, who took office on January 1, 2011.
A spokesman for the group, Dennis Patterson, explains in a video taken on Thursday following the filing of the complaints why “the People” brought the charges under the First Amendment, as stated in the press release below. They have asked Stevens County chief prosecutor Timothy Rasmussen to respond by this coming Friday, September 26, or explain why he requires more time to provide a response.
Rasmussen’s slogan is “The law must serve the people.” Patterson reported that Rasmussen stated at a public meeting in February that he possesses the power of “a grand jury,” and the group of citizens is therefore asking him to take action on their criminal allegations.
Patterson told The Post & Email that Rasmussen and Allen are among 11 public officials who do not have oaths of office on file.
CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.), who lived in Washington State for several years before moving to Tennessee, told The Post & Email several years ago that Washington State no longer uses grand juries. Fitzpatrick is serving a three-year sentence for convictions on aggravated perjury and extortion after he approached the McMinn County, TN grand jury with evidence of corruption on the part of judges, court clerks, prosecutors, law enforcers, and the grand jury foreman. Tennessee courts do not follow constitutional procedure and openly break laws, including hand-picking grand jury foremen who serve for decades at the pleasure of the judge, as do court reporters. At Fitzpatrick’s sentencing hearing, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood was heard to say, “Who cares if the grand jury foreman is serving illegally? So what?”
In the video, Patterson invoked RCW 29A.60.280(3)(a), which states that oaths of office are to be administered no earlier than ten days prior to the person’s date to take office. The People claim that Allen is guilty of “usurpation” of the sheriff’s office, that Rasmussen has known of it and should have brought charges against Allen some time ago. Patterson cited RCW 29A.24.020, a statute which pertains to the assumption of office resulting from an unfinished term of the previous office-holder, which occurred in Allen’s case.
Also cited was RCW 42.20.030, which states:
Every person who shall falsely personate or represent any public officer, or who shall willfully intrude himself or herself into a public office to which he or she has not been duly elected or appointed, or who shall willfully exercise any of the functions or perform any of the duties of such officer, without having duly qualified therefor, as required by law, or who, having been an executive or administrative officer, shall willfully exercise any of the functions of his or her office after his or her right to do so has ceased, or wrongfully refuse to surrender the official seal or any books or papers appertaining to such office, upon the demand of his or her lawful successor, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
“The People want and deserve an answer on your course of action delivered to them by close of business Friday, September 26, 2014. If you need more time, you must explain why,” Patterson said. He then provided an address to which Rasmussen could respond.
A PDF of the press release concerning the matter is here: PRESS copy of Kendle Allen Complaint
The press release reads:
After receiving the press release, The Post & Email corresponded with Patterson through email, at which time he explained that there is a total of 11 county officials, including Rasmussen, who reportedly do not have oaths of office in the public record. He added, “We have discovered it is not merely our own county officials who have failed to follow state law with respect to Oaths on record–it goes all the way to the Governor. We are also discovering it is the same in other states.”
When we asked if the People filing the complaint were members of a formal organization, Patterson responded:
Over the past 3 or 4 years a small hand full of disconnected people became aware of the issue through legal cases they were caught up in over different issues. It was a matter of not being able to pick that particular battle at the time. Meanwhile a group had formed as an assembly of the People to keep an eye on local government and actions affecting our quality of life. A smaller group (NEAR) broke off from this group in 2013 out of a desire to actually do some thing rather than a continual rehash of necessary but redundant education. This group was working on a local wildlife issue when they discovered the Director of Fish and Game did not have an Oath of Office. Although he is not legally bound to have one the search for answers lead this group to discover that none of our elected county officials who are required by state law to have them on the public record did. The group worked diligently to prepare a Notice to correct the deficiencies and proposed Oath of Office Ordinance. These were presented to our 3 County Commissioners in open session in April of this year. Subsequently, all 11 elected officials were served notices of the deficiency in their Oaths. These and 2 subsequent notices are also filed on the Public Record. The general public is mostly unaware. We only have two weekly papers in Stevens County and no Television station. It makes getting word out very challenging.
The NEAR group is a body of concerned neighbors. Everyone is welcome. There is no membership or leader. We just all get along well and work together. Through this association of good People we posted public notice and held an open election June 5 to form the People’s Oversight Commission to create a public body with tribunal authority. We determined that, absent a law that says we can’t…we can and we did. I accepted the position of Communications. We are holding for the Common Law Grand Jury to form in our area. It is imminent. A Grand Jury Indictment will be state wide news and secure the credibility of the People’s Oversight Commission to act on behalf of the People.
It is fair to say that the complaint has been submitted by a well informed cadre of concerned neighbors.
The Post & Email contacted Rasmussen’s office via email on Sunday morning and will contact Kendle Allen’s office on Monday for comment.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.