Races for the State Supreme Court are often non-contested affairs, conducted far out of the spotlight. That has been different this year, due to the extremely activist nature of the current court on public school funding issues stemming from the 2012 McCleary decision, with serious challengers taking on all three of the court’s incumbents up for re-election.
However, while McCleary has focused more public attention on the court, it may just be other cases that change voters’ minds. And one case just jumped back into view earlier this month, much to the dismay of Justice Charles Wiggins.
This is a case with particularly bad facts for Justice Wiggins – as he relied on a technicality to decide, in the State of Washington v. Budd, to write an opinion letting a man convicted of possessing child pornography to go free. That was in May, and two weeks ago, Mr. Budd was arrested again, for allegedly trying to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex.
Unfortunately for Mr. Budd – and potentially Justice Wiggins – the “girl” in this case was actually an undercover detective. And when he went to meet her for his “date”, Mr. Budd was arrested. As the Yakima Herald wrote, “Yakima police said Michael Allen Budd, 39, was arrested in Yakima on Friday when he planned to meet a girl he met on an online chat service. However, he’d actually been communicating with a detective staging an undercover sting, according to a probable- cause affidavit filed by police. The detective went online Thursday posing as a girl on the chat service, describing her as “14 and lonesome,” the affidavit said. A short time later, a man later responded with messages that quickly became sexual, the affidavit said.”
The tawdry details of this case only serve to remind voters that Mr. Budd would not have been out of jail were it not for Justice Wiggins’ decision. And that decision is one of the reasons that the Seattle Times has endorsed Judge Dave Larson tio replace Wiggins on the court. As the Times wrote,:
“In one recent case, a detective investigating a child-pornography case accepted a suspect’s invitation to come into the suspect’s home so a formal consent-to-search authorization could be signed. Wiggins, writing for the majority, found that entering the house to get the paperwork signed amounted to an unlawful warrantless search. He dismissed the charges.”
Now that case will get renewed attention, since the person that Justice Wiggins decided should go free is accused of yet more disgusting actions. Now that ballots have been mailed, the question is, will voters notice?