The editor, George Pica, of Business Examiner, printed conspicuously
in its May 26, 2003, issue (at page 5) the following --
Lawyer Doug Schafer has objected to portions of the “Victims of the System?”, an article that touched on his suspension from practicing law despite having exposed corruption on the part of Grant Anderson, a fellow lawyer who later became a Pierce County Superior Court judge. He objected in particular to the citation of unnamed critics in the following reference: “Critics contend Schafer exposed Anderson in retaliation for the Pierce County Superior Court judge’s having ruled against him in an unrelated family court case. Some go so far as to suggest he was making good on an “or-else” threat he’d made to Anderson prior to the ruling and use the term “blackmail” to describe the tactic. None of those claims have ever been proven, nor has there by any formal action taken against him by the Washington State Bar Association, which confirms his case has racked up some 8-inches of legal documents, but that there are no other public actions or complaints against Schafer than this suspension.”
He complains first about the fact that his critics declined to be named.
The critics – three lawyers who agreed to be interviewed on the condition of anonymity – say they asked not to be quoted directly in large measure because they consider Schafer compulsive and vindictive. As one of them put it, “I applaud what he accomplished but not necessarily the tactics he used – and I don’t want him on my case.”
Schafer also demanded that his critics produce documents to support their opinions. The lawyer-critics refer to complaints filed with the State Bar Association between 1996 and ‘98. All of these complaints were dismissed by the Bar Association and expunged from Schafer’s record two years later, but Schafer openly shared his files on those complaints with the Business Examiner.
Critics indicated that the four complaints against Schafer that were dismissed dealt with allegations of coercion, but Schafer’s records refute that. One complaint cites a 1995 letter from Schafer to another lawyer that reads in part: “I have not yet filed this or distributed it to other counsel of record in this matter (sic), but will do so beginning at 4:00 P.M. TODAY UNLESS YOU AGREE TO THE CONTINUANCE.” Critics say that letter provides an easy platform for leaping to the conclusion that similar tactics were used against Anderson.
Schafer scoffs at that leap and provides evidence that the Bar Association dismissed that lawyer’s complaint in 1998. He contends that the alleged coercion never happened and points out that he was exonerated by the Bar Association on all complaints except one by his former client who paid for Anderson’s Cadillac.
He goes on to deny that he made any threat – either overt or implied – in his motion for Anderson to recuse himself from a case in February 1996. Specifically, what he wrote was: “I personally have been making inquiries into the handling by Judge Grant L. Anderson, during the almost four years, and particularly the last few months, before he became a judge, of the estate of Charles C. Hoffman. Based upon the public documents that I have reviewed and the individuals with whom I have spoken, I believe that a full investigation into his and his firm’s handling of that estate is necessary. ... I believe that Judge Anderson likely has been made aware of my activities in that regard. If a full investigation by appropriate authorities or private counsel for affected parties confirms my suspicions, then Judge Anderson may be removed from the bench.”
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Also in its May 26, 2003, issue (at page 4), the Business Examiner
printed the following letter under a headling that read --
Lawyer Doug Schafer Responds to chronicle of his legal battle
Though I found “Victims of the System” (May 12) generally accurate, I take exception with two points:
● You wrote: “Critics contend Schafer exposed Anderson in retaliation for the Pierce County Superior Court judge’s having ruled against him in an unrelated family court case. Some go so far as to suggest he was making good on an “or-else” threat he’d made to Anderson prior to the ruling and use the term “blackmail” to describe the tactic.”
That same contention was made by former judge Grant Anderson’s defense lawyer to Los Angeles Times journalist Barry Siegel, who insisted that the lawyer produce a copy of the alleged ruling or transcript of any such hearing. Siegel told me later that the papers the lawyer produced simply failed to support his claim. So, Siegel did not even mention -- gave no ink whatsoever to -- the wild unsupported claim.
If somebody claims that you molest children, should a journalist print that without requiring any corroborating evidence whatsoever?
Please ask your anonymous source to provide you some credible evidence to support his or her claims, and permit me to view and explain anything that may be provided.
● You wrote: “He also points out that he gathered an assortment of pertinent recorded deeds and other public records and interviewed a number of people before taking his evidence to the Attorney General’s office in February 1996.
He shared it as well with the IRS Criminal Investigations Division, the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the FBI and the Washington State Bar Association, he says.
None took any action, he says, until he went public with his allegation.”
Your last sentence bothers me because I don’t believe I made that statement.
This repeats the myth about my motives. I filed my declaration revealing South Sound businessman William Hamilton’s 1992 comments on April 26, 1996, as an appendix to an Appeals Court petition.
I filed that petition seeking to reverse a retaliatory and patently lawless order removing me from my client’s cases. That order was entered in late March by Judge Donald Thompson, who took-over my client’s cases after Judge Anderson recused himself from them at my request.
When I appealed Judge Thompson’s order, I still was assuming that all the officials would be acting responsibly on the evidence I had given them about the obviously corrupt Judge Anderson. Though I had received a turn-down letter of Feb. 12, 1996, from Assistant. Atty. Gen. Jeff Even, I later had spoken with Deputy Atty. Gen. David Walsh and was scheduled to meet with him on April 1 [correction: May 1] of that year.
I had observed little interest by the Prosecuting Attorney’s investigators, but still thought that office would come to recognize the obvious corruption.
The Commission on Judicial Conduct investigator appeared very motivated to look into the matter. I assumed that the State Bar disciplinary office would recognize the obvious corruption once they began investigating. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division agents had appeared interested in the case, as well. The evidence appeared to me to be conclusive of Judge Anderson’s corruption, and of Hamilton’s complicity
My appeal of Judge Thompson’s order further presented to me an opportunity to place my declaration in a publicly accessible file – the Court of Appeals file – so that journalists could be made aware of it, without any possibility of being sued by Hamilton on any possible violation of privacy theory.
(There is immunity from liability for filing relevant papers in a court proceeding, and my declaration was relevant to my defense of Judge Thompson’s banishment order for it showed I had good reasons to request Judge Anderson’s recusal.)
I was eager to share the clear evidence of Judge Anderson’s corruption with journalists at the earliest opportunity so they would publicly report it and so he would then step down from the bench as soon as possible and not run for re-election that year.
I faxed selected papers from my Court of Appeals filing to the three major newspaper newsrooms, but to my surprise, journalists were not interested.
It is often said that if a lie is repeated often enough, people eventually will believe that it is true.
It seems to me that responsible journalists should try to avoid simply repeating lies, particularly when they are shown to be lies.
Doug Schafer, lawyer (suspended for exposing too much of a corrupt judge)