On March 4, 2016, Judge Anne Hirsch heard the motion from the Advocacy and the CCA to jointly intervene in the challenge to the 2015 commercial season in Willapa Bay filed by the Willapa Bay Gillnetters Association. In its response to the joint motion, the WBGA asked the court to reject the intervention claiming we would slow down the process and prejudice their case. If the court did allow the intervention, the WBGA then asked that the two be required to use a single attorney and help the WBGA pay the costs of producing the extensive record of the public proceedings that resulted in the passage of the WB Salmon Policy in 2014 by the DFW Commission and the subsequent gillnet season that followed in 2015.
Advocacy counsel Joe Frawley drafted the reply for the two groups and argued before the court. He pointed out to the court that his clients had already conducted an extensive review of the record and were waiting on the gillnetters attorney to do the same. Then, he pointed out the inappropriateness of one side trying to chose or limit the counsel representing another. He then qouted the Administrative Procedures Act being litigated to show the statute did not allow for one side to require the other to pay their costs of producing the record as a condition of participation.
State Assistant Attorney General Michael Grossman appeared on behalf of the Department of Fish & Wildlife. He confirmed the state’s position was the Department was not opposing the motion to intervene.
Judge Hirsch listened and then ruled from the bench. The WBGA’s opposition to the joint intervention was rejected and the motion to jointly intervene was granted. The attempts by the WBGA to limit the counsel to only one representing the two groups and to transfer costs of producing the record from the WBGA onto the intervenors were likewise rejected. From our prospective, it was pretty much a “clean sweep.
The next step will be reaching agreement on how to reduce the size of the record down to a volume that the court can absorb. Currently, it takes familiar with all the proceedings about 48 hours to review the electronic files. Then, approximately 30 hours of audio tapes of public meetings will have to be reviewed to determine which one’s need to be converted into written text by a court reporter. While this significant task is being completed, a schedule for the hearing before the Thurston County Court will be set.