On February 7, 2020 Judge Erik D. Price heard motions for summary judgement filed by WDFW and Twin Harbors Fish & Wildlife Advocacy. The judge decided not to consider the large fact file in the case but rather to grant WDFW’s motion.
The question the judge focused on was whether or not the Open Meeting Act applied to the North of Falcon (NOF) process used by WDFW to set salmon seasons in Washington State. He recognized the lack of legal precedents on the issue. His action fast tracked the process to have the appellate court provide the answer before rather than after a lengthy trial. The Advocacy legal team is currently drafting the appeal.
While the Advocacy would have preferred he grant our motion rather than WDFW’s motion, it’s really irrelevant. The purpose of the litigation is to determine whether or not the OPMA applies to NOF. The action by Judge Price provides a means to get that answer from the appellate court without a lengthy trial. It also allows the Advocacy legal team to concentrate on the other two suits underway under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and Public Records Act.
An interesting factor was the filing of declarations. The Advocacy filed a declaration from former Commission Chair Miranda Wecker and one from former WDFW NOF manager Pat Patillo.
In response, WDFW filed a declaration from former WDFW director Phil Anderson who disputed the two declarations filed by the Advocacy. In response to Anderson, the Advocacy filed a declaration from Curt Smitch the former head of the Dept of Game and natural resource advisor for Governors Gardner and Locke who disputed Anderson.
These declarations are an intriguing look into the history of NOF and the actions of key players. The Phil Anderson declaration is HERE. The Curt Smitch declaration is HERE. See Update #9 below for links to the Wecker and Patillo declarations.