Cases of Bad Judgment

Also: A cheer for the Seahawks by Sonics fans, a holy war, and a Seattle activist is convicted.

The Courts

OK, your honors, we can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way, and either way you're not going to look very good next election. Those of you without robes, please join us in cheering on The Seattle Times as it essentially sues the hell out of King County Superior Court and its judges for sealing hundreds, probably thousands, of court files that seem to have been locked away from public inspection for no good reason and often without proper procedure. As the newspaper was preparing to launch a yearlong campaign to open court records ("Your Court, Their Secrets" began Sunday, March 5), some judges thought it would be a good idea to begin a review of sealed case files based simply on the alarming findings of the Times. But most Superior Court judges said no, it would be best if these sealing decisions were reconsidered only if someone filed a motion requesting review for each case. Wrote Ken Armstrong, Justin Mayo, and Steve Miletich in the Times: "We're going to be filing lots of motions." You go, guys. CHUCK TAYLOR

Sports Business

It was no small irony that the day after the Legislature decided to drop funding proposals for a new KeyArena this year—leaving Seattle SuperSonics principal owner Howard Schultz pondering his next, uh, move—that the biggest cheer at Sunday's Sonics-Jazz game, March 5, went to a Seahawks player. The roar erupted when the scoreboard flashed the news that star Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander had inked an eight-year, $62 million deal. The Supes were already envious of the Hawks' Super Bowl season, and the Sonics' mediocre year has been of no help in drumming up public support for a new taxpayer-built arena, so the ovation had an almost raspberry taste to it. On the other hand, the Sonics did get a rousing cheer when they topped 108 points against Utah, entitling every fan in attendance to a free eight-pack of Pepsi. RICK ANDERSON


Joe Fuiten continues to gain prominence as a local spokesperson for the religious right. At the request of CityClub last week, the pastor of Cedar Park Assembly of God church in Bothell took to the podium to debate well-known rabbi of the left Michael Lerner, who was in town to promote a book urging liberals to respond to Americans' spiritual hunger. Throwing pointed barbs, Fuiten questioned what spiritual values the rabbi was trying to promote. Claiming that Lerner advocates for psychedelic drugs, Fuiten said he heard in the rabbi's voice "the screech of Joe Cocker at Woodstock." Lerner countered: "I'm really surprised at you. . . . I thought there would be a certain level of respect." He also said after the debate that he had no idea what Fuiten was talking about. The pastor told me he was referring to a statement by Tikkun, the liberal Jewish organization and magazine associated with Lerner, which calls for drug policy reform—a Woodstockian vision promoted by such hippies as the King County Bar Association. NINA SHAPIRO

Animal Rights

Seattle activist Joshua Harper, 31, was convicted in federal court in Trenton, N.J., on March 2 of animal-enterprise terrorism for involvement in a campaign of harassment against Huntingdon Life Sciences, a notorious animal-testing company. Harper, a mild-mannered vegan skater punk who until last year lived in the University District, was part of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign that targeted the homes of company executives in New Jersey. He could face more than three years in prison for his part in the campaign, much of which amounted to little more than misdemeanor vandalism and telephone harassment. Five other activists were also convicted and could face up to seven years, pending a sentencing hearing June 7. PHILIP DAWDY

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