A judge in Skagit County Superior Court denied the Island County prosecutor’s request for a preliminary injunction last Thursday in an unusual case that may end up in the state Supreme Court.
The attorney representing Prosecutor Greg Banks asked for a preliminary injunction that would have barred a land-use attorney hired by the Island County Board of Commissioners from continuing her work for the county. The judge denied the request, ruling that Banks was unable to show reasons that it should be granted and that the outside attorney’s work benefits both the county and the prosecutor’s office, according to a statement from the commissioners.
“This is good news and means we can keep moving forward with important work for the citizens of Island County,” Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said in the statement.
The judge’s decision doesn’t affect the lawsuit, which continues forward. Banks said he wasn’t surprised by the judge’s decision since preliminary injunctions are difficult to obtain.
Banks filed the lawsuit against attorney Susan Drummond after the commissioners hired her to help with the ongoing Comprehensive Plan Amendment earlier this year. He argues that she is usurping his role as prosecuting attorney by performing one of his duties without his consent, which he argues is barred by law.
The commissioners asked the court to be allowed to intervene in the case — or become a party in the lawsuit — and the judge agreed earlier this month. As a result, Banks’ motion for summary judgment was pushed back to mid-December.
Banks claims that the commissioners are purposely delaying the case. He said he had hoped to get a quick decision and then whoever lost would appeal to the state Supreme Court for a final ruling on the potentially precedent-setting issue.
“Both of the private law firms hired by the board want to conduct time-consuming and expensive discovery, such as depositions, interrogatories, and document production,” he said in an email. “We offered to agree to a set of facts supporting their arguments, so that they could argue their position without the need for discovery and delay. They refused, choosing instead to spend more taxpayers’ dollars, and draw this out.”
Banks said the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys board unanimously voted to support the lawsuit and authorized the staff attorney to represent him. She was appointed as a special prosecutor for the purposes of this case.
According to the commissioners’ press release, in Thursday’s court decision it was noted that Island County Superior Court Judges Vickie Churchill and Alan Hancock sided with the commissioners on the issue. The judges approved the commissioners’ request to hire Drummond after reviewing Banks’ objection.