Benton Co. Sheriff Hatcher and lawyer respond to state supreme court decision
KENNEWICK, Wash. — Nearly a week after the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously ruled there was sufficient evidence to proceed with a recall, Sheriff Jerry Hatcher and his attorney have spoken out.
On Monday morning, Sheriff Hatcher and his lawyer, George Telquist explained the constitutionality of a recall.
“Any voter who voted in the last election can make a statement of charges, the charges are not checked factually, there is no fact finding by the court, there’s no fact finding by any agency. The voter can submit the statement of charges to the auditor, the auditor is legally bound to advance the charges to the local prosecuting attorney then the local prosecuting attorney does not do an investigation; they are legally bound to create what’s called a ballot synopsis,” Telquist explained.
Hatcher still maintains he is innocent of the eight items on the ballot synopsis. The synopsis claims that Sheriff Hatcher has acted illegally.
“No court has ever adjudicated Sheriff Hatcher to have committed a crime, he’s never been charged with committing a crime,” Telquist said.
The lawyer further explained that in this process, Hatcher does not have a chance to dispute any of the claims, like an individual would in a criminal or civil court proceeding. That’s why they’re reaching out to the public before they’re influenced by the ‘Recall Sheriff Jerry Hatcher’ petition and signs throughout the area.
“He categorically denies all of the allegations, he categorically denies that he has done anything illegal, rather, these are the charges of a disgruntled employee and a voter,” Telquist said.
“I’m not gonna allow somebody to come in with unsubstantiated charges, and push us out, if we allow that we will never have constitutionally based sheriffs that will stand up for the rights of the people and for the rights of the employees,” Hatcher added.
Still, in a September interview, Benton County Commissioner Jerome Delvin said Hatcher did commit a crime: theft.
“Fourteen thousand rounds he’d been stock piling for six or seven years, that’s a theft to me, that’s a misappropriation of public funds not just training ammunition as he claims,” he said.
For now, the men said they just want to educate the public about the claims made in the ballot synopsis before they sign any petition. Sheriff Jerry Hatcher also said, he is not stepping down.
“This is important to all of us, we have to protect the constitution, we have to protect the Sheriff’s Office and I guarantee you if they understand the facts, they’ll look at this situation totally different and I ask them to do that before they sign any recall petition. You don’t just step down when things get tough, that’s not what people elected me to do.”
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