A king County District Court judge pro tem has been removed from hearing further cases and his status referred to the court's personnel...
A King County District Court judge pro tem has been removed from hearing further cases and his status referred to the court’s personnel committee, the court’s presiding judge said Tuesday.
The action was taken against Richard Llewelyn Jones, a Bellevue attorney who served as a judge pro tem, or temporary judge, in a Monday court hearing in Redmond.
The decision came hours after Metropolitan King County Council candidate Richard Pope sent an e-mail Tuesday to King County court officials, in which he cited Jones’ record of two criminal misdemeanors.
The news marks the latest twist in a series of episodes surrounding the June 2 arrest of King County Councilwoman Jane Hague on a drunken-driving charge.
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Pope, a Democrat, is running against Hague, a Republican.
Hague has pleaded not guilty to the DUI charge, and the latest court action on the case came Monday in King County District Court in Redmond.
That’s where Jones was sitting as a judge pro tem, filling in for the regular judge.
Jones continued the case, moving further argument to Nov. 28.
But a newspaper account of the matter identified Jones as the judge, and that upset Pope, who is also a Bellevue attorney.
Pope wrote in the e-mail that he was “extremely familiar” with Jones, and had opposed him in court.
Pope cited Jones’ history of misdemeanor criminal convictions and discipline by the Washington State Bar Association.
Court records show Jones has been involved in 13 District Court cases since 1993, and five Superior Court cases since 1998, including two criminal actions.
Court records show Jones was involved in a 2001 case accusing him of malicious mischief and in 2005 was charged with residential burglary. He was sentenced Oct. 28, 2005, to 12 months in jail on the residential-burglary charge, which was suspended on the condition he serve two days in jail and be on probation for 24 months.
Jones could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Pope wrote in his e-mail that the 2005 case was pleaded down to criminal trespass and involved Jones being caught in his former wife’s home. Seattle police arrested him.
In addition, Jones is the subject of several civil judgments.
Further details of Jones’ court record could not be confirmed Tuesday.
“I was absolutely shocked and astounded to discover that convicted criminal and severely disciplined attorney Richard Llewelyn Jones was apparently chosen to serve as a pro-tempore judge in the politically sensitive and high-profile drunk-driving criminal case … ,” Pope wrote in the e-mail.
The e-mail was sent Tuesday morning to newspapers and also county court officials, including Judge Barbara Linde, King County District Court chief presiding judge.
Linde quickly referred the matter to the court’s personnel committee.
“Until the committee has had an opportunity to investigate this matter and make a recommendation, the court will cease using Mr. Jones as a judge pro tem,” Linde wrote.
Misdemeanor convictions do not automatically disqualify someone from being an attorney under state law, or serving as a judge, she added, and neither do legal disciplinary actions.
“As far as I know, it’s not something we’ve ever encountered before,” she said of the criminal history.
Linde said Jones’ violations were not known to the court, and pro-tem judges are not routinely asked about their legal histories.
“It certainly will be in the future,” she said, of reviewing the legal histories of judicial applicants.
The Monday decision to continue the Hague case will not be affected by the decision to remove Jones from his pro-tem status, Linde said, and it would be up to the attorneys in that case to decide whether to appeal the continuance.
Linde said she expects it will take about a week to complete a review of the legal matters involving Jones.
Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or email@example.com