Declining To Participate In Any Tests Is The Justification For No DUI Charges Of Judge Despite Typical DUI Evidence.

Declining To Participate In Any Tests Is The Justification For No DUI Charges Of Judge Despite Typical DUI Evidence.

There is nothing better to bring a dormant blog back online than an outrageous issue.  In this instance, it is the ridiculous and outrageous issue of the State of Washington refusing to file DUI charges against Judge Ryan. For those who have not read or heard about this, a link to one of the stories is here. This is outrageous to the point of ridiculousness because the facts of his case, or non-case as it may be, are no less...


There is nothing better to bring a dormant blog back online than an outrageous issue.  In this instance, it is the ridiculous and outrageous issue of the State of Washington refusing to file DUI charges against Judge Ryan. For those who have not read or heard about this, a link to one of the stories is here.

This is outrageous to the point of ridiculousness because the facts of his case, or non-case as it may be, are no less problematic for the state than thousands of other citizens stopped arrested, and ultimately charged, yet, in this single instance the state is on public record of saying there is insufficient evidence to convict.

There are two ways to file charges against a driver in Washington, one is to arrest them and physically hand them a citation of DUI after they have been processed for the crime of DUI including the offering of a breath tests. Once taken or refused, as is a driver’s right, the driver can be then released with the citation, or issued a citation and booked into jail. Regardless of being booked or released, once a citation is issued, the person MUST appear before a Judge within 48 hours for an arraignment on the charges where a Guilty or No Guilty plea is entered.

The second method is arrest and release the person after breath testing, or refusal (although it is increasingly more frequent to obtain a warrant for blood to be drawn and then release after the draw) is to file by way of Complaint.  The complaint is created and issued by the State or City Prosecutor after a prosecutor reads the police report/s and then “decides” whether to file DUI charges.  This decision process takes time and typically is done in mass, meaning, a review of dozens of DUI arrest reports in dozens of cases and then it is decided to charge the crime and a complaint is created and issued to the court.  The Court responds by issuing a summons for the driver to appear for an arraignment on the charge/s.  This is the typical method of charging a DUI in King and Snohomish Counties. In Skagit County, Island County, Whatcom County, and San Juan County, driver’s are almost always issued a citation after breath testing and ordered to appear in court the next judicial day.

Herein lies the difference in charging and the decision to “decline” to prosecute is what makes this case so ridiculously outrageous.  The stop and contact of Judge Ryan was documented by video and reason for the stop of Judge Ryan was:

several lane travel violations, failure to signal, and speed violations that are well-documented in the trooper’s report and in the in-car video. Specifically, the vehicle crossed out of its lane with both tires and maintained that position for approximately 50 feet before correcting. The vehicle later crossed over the lane line two more times, and at one point accelerated to 55 mph (40 mph speed limit). The vehicle made a slow, unsignaled lane change and was slow to react to the trooper’s lights.

Once the trooper stopped the car and spoke to the driver, the driver went out of his way to identify himself not by formal name, but as “Judge Ryan.”  The trooper also recognized him as such.  The trooper has appeared before the Judge several times and noticed that his speech and appearance was different than normal, meaning he had slurred speech, he had bloodshot and watery eyes, he smelled of alcohol, and admitted to consuming 1 beer earlier with another person, again specifically identified as a Judge.

Roadside sobriety tests were declined as was the breath sample on the roadside. The trooper placed him under arrest for DUI. A second trooper was called to the scene and “corroborated” the above observations.  As a result, there are now two veteran troopers making typical DUI observations.  Treating it as they would any DUI arrest, the driver in the form of a Judge was then brought to the station for a breath test and test was also declined as was his right.

In most instances in Snohomish and King County refusal cases, the arresting officer is obtaining a warrant to draw blood; that was not the case here.  No warrant was sought.  The Judge was provided a ride home and the troopers filed their reports and because the Driver was an active Snohomish County Judge, the matter was transferred to King County Prosecutors office for a charging decision.

The King County Prosecutors office ordered an investigation and followed up with the other Judge that Judge Ryan had drinks with.  Judge Fisher stated Judge Ryan, in fact had had “2 glasses of wine.” The Public record “declining” to file charges and justifying clearly states that the Prosecution is of the opinion that Judge Ryan lied, and yet, with that and all of the other typical “reliable” DUI evidence that is routinely used to seek a DUI conviction, here is the “Ryan Decline To Prosecute” letter.

The outrageousness of the claims is so offensive because under these same circumstances everyone else is charged.  Everyone else with IDENTICAL facts are not “declined.”  In fact, in some locations, those said to refuse a breath sample are not only charged DUI but labeled with a “No Deal” stamp.

The fact that the King County Prosecutor states that there is a lack of evidence should have ramifications where everyone who is stopped for weaving, and has slurred speech, refuses ALL testing, and caught in a lie should also not be prosecuted.  I am not advocating for DUI charges against Judge Ryan, rather I am of the opinion that everyone in the same situation should NOT have charges against them since it is a LACK of evidence issue. The justice system is set upon a foundation that like cases, are decided similarly, and so if there insufficient evidence in Judge Ryan’s case then every similarly situated DUI defendant in should likewise not be prosecuted.

I can lay my hand on at least a dozen cases in my office with not only identical facts (minus the lie) and they are in my office because they ARE being prosecuted, they are NOT being treated as if there is insufficient evidence, they ARE NOT having their cases dismissed.  Perhaps it can be argued that each jurisdiction can legally use their prosecutorial discretion differently than the next, but the problem is ALL prosecutors whether they be State or City are bound in what is called “privity,” meaning they are all of the same entity and as such are bound, or should be bound by each other’s practices.

I have long explained to my clients and others that DUI is not only a real crime on the books, but also a political crime given the policies and legislative back room deals that create our current scheme of DUI laws and ramifications, but it is apparently even more political, when you maintain a Judicial and therefore political position.