In May, the Yakima County Superior Court judges ordered Janelle Riddle to obtain an additional $200,000 in bonding after a state audit report found more than $13,000 unaccounted for in the clerk’s office in 2017.
Embattled Yakima County Clerk Janelle Riddle lost her bid to block a county Superior Court order requiring her to either get a $200,000 bond or be removed from office.
But the state Supreme Court, through its commissioner, also delayed implementing the order so as to give Riddle nearly three weeks to ask the court to modify its order or file an appeal.
“Ms. Riddle has not argued in any meaningful way that she lacks a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law,” Commissioner Michael Johnston wrote in the five-page order issued Thursday.
Attempts to contact Riddle and her attorney, Douglas County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Clem, were not successful. Clem’s staff said he is out of the office this week, and Riddle did not return phone calls left at her office for comment.
Most Read Local Stories
- After 80 lawsuits against Trump, this one's the big one
- Seattle City Council votes to override Mayor Jenny Durkan's vetoes of police and public-safety changes to 2020 budget
- All I-5 lanes reopened after semi's trailer dangling over roadway is removed VIEW
- Coronavirus daily news updates, September 23: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the world
- Protesters march through Seattle in honor of Breonna Taylor; 13 arrested on Capitol Hill
In May, the county’s Superior Court judges ordered Riddle to obtain an additional $200,000 in bonding after a state audit report found more than $13,000 unaccounted for in the clerk’s office in 2017. In addition to tighter controls, auditors recommended the county seek reimbursement of $3,599 plus investigation costs of $13,432 from the employee responsible for the loss or the county’s insurance.
Superior Court Judge David Elofson, in a letter to Riddle, said her initial $200,000 bond would not be able to cover the loss the auditor listed plus the money the county lost when Riddle failed to turn in child-support orders to the state Division of Child Support.
Elofson, the court’s presiding judge, and his colleagues signed an order in May demanding Riddle obtain the additional bonding or they would declare her position vacant.
She had until June 18 to comply.
Riddle filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court, arguing the judges exceeded their authority because state law caps the clerk’s bond at the same level as that of the county treasurer: $250,000. She also argued that her current $200,000 bond had not been tapped, so it would cover the shortfalls the auditor discovered. The court agreed to stay Elofson’s order while it reviewed the matter.
Johnston, the commissioner, said Riddle did not show that Elofson and his colleagues went beyond their jurisdiction in requiring additional bonding.
He also found that Riddle did not show she had no other recourse besides filing an appeal with the Supreme Court. He said the order could have been taken to the Court of Appeals.
William Hyslop, a Spokane attorney whom Brusic appointed to represent the judges, said his clients expect their original order to be followed, if Riddle does not file an appeal within the next 20 days.
Brusic appointed outside counsel for both sides to avoid conflicts of interest with his office.
“If Ms. Riddle chooses not to do anything, the court has not changed its orders,” Hyslop said.