WA Supreme Court: Richland School Board Recall Can Move Forward
(Olympia, WA) -- The Washington State Supreme Court says a recall against three Richland School Board members can go forward. The state's highest court ruled today that four of the recall charges against Semi Bird, Kari Williams and Audra Byrd are "factually and legally sufficient."
This came down in an order from Chief Justice Steven Gonzalez Thursday. The opinion follows:
On May 26, 2022, Appellants M. Semi Bird, Audra Byrd, and Kari Williams filed
Notices of Appeal seeking Supreme Court review of the trial court’s decisions on these recall cases. On June 1, 2022, our Court consolidated the three appeals and set a briefing schedule. On November 11, 2022, the Appellants filed their opening brief. On December 9, 2022, the Respondents filed their opening and response brief. On January 9, 2022, the Appellants filed their reply brief.
The Court, at the February 9, 2023, En Banc Conference, considered the issues presented and now enters the following order.
The Court’s review of a recall petition is reviewed de novo for factual and legal
sufficiency in accordance with the governing statutory provisions and our prior cases interpreting such statutes. A charge is factually sufficient where the alleged facts, taken as a whole,“‘identify to the electors and to the official being recalled acts or failure to act which without justification would constitute a prima facie showing of misfeasance, malfeasance, or a violation of the oath of office.’”
In re Recall of Boldt, 187 Wn.2d 542, 549, 386 P.3d 1104 (2017)
(quoting Chandler v. Otto, 103 Wn.2d 268, 274, 693 P.2d 71 (1984)). A charge “is legally sufficient if it ‘state[s] with specificity substantial conduct clearly amounting to misfeasance, malfeasance or violation of the oath of office.’” Id. (quoting Chandler, 103 Wn.2d at 274). Our review requires that we treat the factual allegations as true. After carefully considering the issues presented, the Court concludes that four of the recall charges presented in this case are factually and legally sufficient and three charges are factually and legally insufficient.
Now, therefore, it is hereby ORDERED:
That the Court unanimously affirms the trial court’s orders allowing charges for two,
three, and four for Byrd, Bird, and Williams to proceed. And charge ten for Byrd and Williams and charge twelve for Bird to proceed.
That the Court unanimously reverses the trial court’s orders allowing charges eight, nine,
and ten for Bird and charges six, seven, and eight for Byrd and Williams to proceed.
An opinion by the Court will be filed in due course. DATED at Olympia, Washington this 9th day of February, 2023.