Municipal Judge Debra Lev won a resounding victory in court this afternoon against Bellingham city attorneys. Her legal team brought the City back to court today in Skagit Superior Court. Two weeks ago, Skagit Superior Court judge, Elizabeth Yost Neidzwski, ruled Bellingham's mayor and city attorneys were violating state law by investigating the Municipal Court's internal affairs. She told the city to stop. Mayor Fleetwood and the city attorneys ignored the judge's order. They continued the investigation, finished their confidential report, and leaked it to the Bellingham Herald within two hours of receiving it. All in an apparent effort to smear Judge Lev.
Judge Lev brought them back to court for conflict of interest as city attorneys Alan Mariner and James Erb are by law her legal advisors and they have now turned to investigating her. The Superior Court Judge fully agreed and barred James Erb, Chief City Attorney Alan Mariner and the entire legal department of the City of Bellingham from any further involvement. A stunning defeat for Mayor Seth Fleetwood's crusade against Judge Lev.
The Skagit County judge found the city attorneys had committed “unethical behavior” in their dogged pursuit of Judge Lev. For this, one or more of them could possibly be removed from office or barred from practicing law by future actions of the state bar or state courts.
Perspective. For taxpayers in Bellingham, these city attorneys are wasting money as fast as they can. This may have started out as a plan to have Deb Lev removed as a judge and to allow James Erb, the city attorney, to be appointed to the position of municipal judge. This is speculation, but there seems to be no rational motive for this by the mayor and his attorneys. Yes, Mayor Fleetwood is behind this witch hunt. He is an attorney and should be held accountable as this fiasco continues to develop.