Appeal in Case of Rosie the Newfoundland to be Heard Friday in Snohomish Court

by Ralph Nichols

Superior Court Judge Richard T. Okrent will hear the continuation of an appeal in the case of Rosie the Newfoundland at 1 p.m. Friday (March 9) at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett.

Rosie was pursued, shot and killed by Des Moines police officers on Nov. 7, 2010, as she cowered in blackberry bushes in a back yard after being reported loose on a city street.

Snohomish County District Court Presiding Judge Tam T. Bui denied in September a motion to bring misdemeanor animal cruelty charges against Des Moines Police Officer Michael Graddon, who fired the shots, and Sgt. Steven Weiland, who ordered the killing.

Although Judge Bui determined her court had authority to hear the King County case, she declared in a written opinion, “After a careful review, this Court is not satisfied that probable cause exists” to charge the officers.

Bellingham-based animal law attorney Adam Karp originally filed the petition to bring criminal charges against Graddon and Weiland on behalf of Charles and Deirdre Wright, Rosie’s owners, in January 2011.

Karp brought the case to Des Moines Municipal Court after no legal or disciplinary action was taken against them by the Des Moines Police Department, the City of Des Moines, or the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

But it was referred to King County District Court when Municipal Court Judge Veronica Alicea-Galvan recused herself at the outset of the initial hearing in February 2011.

All King County District Court judges and then all Pierce County District Court judges recused themselves from hearing the case before it was transferred to Snohomish County.

Karp appealed Judge Bui’s decision and on Dec.15, after hearing arguments from him and Matthew Kaser, the attorney representing Des Moines, Judge Okrent held that:

Mr. Wright stands in the place of the prosecuting attorney under the applicable law in this case.

He is, therefore, more than just a victim and has standing to seek appellate review of Judge Bui’s decision.

Applicable rules of criminal procedure give such standing to “any person.”

Judge Bui’s order was appealable under the Rules of Appeal for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction.

Therefore, Judge Okrent denied the City of Des Moines’ motion to dismiss the appeal, and continued the case.

At Friday’s hearing, he will decide whether Judge Bui erred, both in the decision against the city that her court had jurisdiction in this case, and in the decision against Wright that there is no probable cause to bring criminal charges.

Should Judge Okrent reject the city’s objections on procedural and constitutional grounds, he will then consider the question of probable cause and could decide that prosecution is warranted.

Regardless of his decision, he might rule from the bench or could issue a written decision later.

In a brief on behalf of the Wrights filed last month, Karp argued that “even if the court finds that pulling the trigger was authorized, what matters from the perspective of animal cruelty charges is where the muzzle is aimed in addition to why no officer sought veterinary treatment for a dog who presented no imminent threat to the officer for half an hour before and after the first discharge….

“The superior court is not asked to enforce criminal violations of municipal ordinances but simply to allow the prosecution to proceed in district court, which has jurisdiction over municipal … [and] this court has the authority to review the prosecutorial

In a final opposing brief, Kaser argued on behalf of the city that the district court “correctly denied Mr. Wright the opportunity to bring a criminal action, but its reasoning in doing so was flawed.”


3 Responses to “Appeal in Case of Rosie the Newfoundland to be Heard Friday in Snohomish Court”
  1. Southland LE says:

    Justice for Rosie!! Hopefully today

  2. Art says:

    To the Wrights: stay strong.

  3. Pam says:

    The city of Des Moines hates animals. I work with a group that traps and spays or nueters feral cats. The city of Des Moines prefers to trap and euthanize the animals and when approached to help with the feral problem, was told they would rather euthanize the animals than fix the animals (at no cost to the city) which also helps with the rodent problems.

    The dog did not need to die. Nothing can bring Rosie back, but to lose a family member this way is uncalled for and the City of Des Moines needs to accept responsiblity for this cruel act.

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