Bar Complaint - Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist

April 20, 2018

Washington State Bar Association
1325 4th Ave, Suite 600
Seattle, WA 98101

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist violated various Rules of Professional Conduct in verbal statements broadcast on KIRO Evening News and in a statement cited in the news article that accompanied the news broadcast published by KIRO on its website. (Exhibit 3)

On February 22th, 2015, Prosecutor Lindquist charged me with four counts of Felony Harassment for posting a message and video to Facebook, Cause No. 15-1-00747-7. (Exhibit 2) The prosecutor added 3 additional felonies before the trial, including a Class B felony. The Class B felony couldn't withstand a pre-trial motion, and I was acquitted of all other charges after a bench trial. (Exhibit 4)

The very public statements Lindquist made about me merit the review and censure of the Bar Association.

Public and prejudicial extrajudicial comments

On the evening of my arraignment, Prosecutor Lindquist appeared on KIRO Evening News, a program transmitted through cables and terrestrial transmitters into homes in Pierce County and throughout the Puget Sound area. That same evening, KIRO published an article on its website that visually includes the broadcast news segment. The video features two of Lindquist’s statements about me, and the written journalism includes a third. In the televised statement, Lindquist said:

LINDQUIST: We didn’t wait. We rounded him up.

The written journalism that accompanies the video of the broadcast published on kiro7.com says:

Lindquist said investigators consider Dempsey a threat, so his office didn't wait to jail him. "This is an ongoing investigation, but we wanted to move quick," said Lindquist.

All three statements to the press are prejudicial to the cause of justice, and two of the three are contradicted by facts stated in the charging document. An accurate statement by Lindquist might be: “We waited over a month, but the accused cooperated extra-ordinarily when made aware of our warrant.” I considered his public statements so dangerous that I waived my right to a jury trial. Any juror might have seen that television broadcast and formed an impression of me based on Lindquist's false and maligning words to the press.

Relevant facts

Law enforcement became aware of the complaint on January 12th. (Exhibit 1) I became aware of the complaint on February 20th, five weeks later, when officers located my counsel outside a Superior Courtroom and notified him of the Probable Cause for Arrest. (Exhibit 1) My attorney called me around lunch time. At 1pm, my attorney told police that I would turn myself in at the County-City Building before 4:30pm. I left work early from my office in downtown Seattle, and introduced myself to sheriffs inside the County-City Building at the agreed-upon time. (Exhibit 2)

Claim: Law Enforcement didn't wait

This extrajudicial statement is a clear violation of your Rules of Professional Conduct, and is false.

Lindquist knew how I came into custody, as the Charging Papers conclude:

The defendant’s attorney was contacted on Friday, February 20 by law enforcement. At their request, the defendant did turn himself in to the sheriff’s office later that afternoon. (Exhibit 2)

Knowing the enormous time elapsed between the complaint and the warrant, I've wondered what Lindquist meant by his very public statement that he didn't wait. Perhaps he was not referring to the five weeks between receiving the complaint and contacting my attorney at the County-City Building. Perhaps instead he was referring to the time elapsed between gaining the court order for the arrest warrant, and asking my attorney to contact me. What he meant is a question for Lindquist, but not a relevant question, as your Rules obligate him to be mindful of how the large audience would interpret his words. In fact, the speed at which I entered custody was the result of my principled effort to respond appropriately to the court's order, and submit immediately to the lawful authority of the state. I’m the one who didn’t wait. But by claiming his actions were purposefully swift, Lindquist implies an urgency to apprehend me that heightened public opprobrium, and endangered my ability to get a fair trial.

Claim: Law Enforcement rounded me up

This extrajudicial statement is a clear violation of your Rules of Professional Conduct, and is false.

What does it mean to round a man up? It means to take him from his freedom, his home and friends. It means to transfer his fate into the hands of another, his captor. It implies effort, such as the effort of finding him, gaining control of him, and taking him to the place of the captor’s choice. Another man might hide from being found, resist losing independence, and defy efforts to be relocated. All these images accompany law enforcement rounding a man up.

In each nuance, saying I was rounded up impugns my character with imagery contrary to the fact that by my own volition, under my own power, and at my own expense, I immediately travelled 33 miles into the custody and confinement of the state, knowing well through counsel that I was unlikely to appear before a judge until after the weekend. I deferred to the preferences of the arresting authority, but Lindquist’s folksy language implies the force of the state was needed and employed to gain my custody, which suggests I hold lawful authority in disdain, and maybe even put up a fight. Guidelines for Applying Rule 3.6 allow him to specify the time and place of arrest, which would paint a picture quite contrary to the one he manufactured. The documented facts provide no defense for Lindquist's false and maligning innuendo.

Claim: Investigators consider me a threat

His investigators were bamboozled by dishonest complainants, but regardless of why his staff thought this, Lindquist saying it to the press was an obvious violation of Rule 3.6, especially as clarified in the Guideline for its application. I was not at large, or on the run. I was safely in the custody of the state. So why make people fear me? His very public statement, like the rest, substantially endangered my right to a fair trial.

Worst kind of prejudicial statements

Based on the Rules of your Bar Association, Lindquist’s claims are the worst kind of prejudicial extrajudicial statements, as they are:

Censure is needed

Throughout his career as an elected official, Mark Lindquist has violated RPC 3.6 and RPC 3.8. His misleading statements about me to the press forced me to waive my jury trial, and threatened my ability to get a fair one. That he uses the accused to gain visibility before his electorate based on maligning falsehoods and charging documents rather than verdicts should be of grave concern to all advocates of justice. Lindquist's dismissive responses to complaints to your Association are of particular concern. Justice in Pierce County faces clear, serious, documented, repeated danger as long as Mr. Lindquist is permitted to practice law.

Yours faithfully,

John Dempsey

References

Exhibits