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The two suits filed by the Advocacy challenging WDFW salmon season setting processes are continuing to move through the process in Thurston County court.  At this point in time, the activity is related to “discovery” which is designed to create a record of documents and testimony for the court to have a full understanding of the legal issues involved.

The Advocacy team is currently reviewing tens of thousands pages of documents, files, and emails received so far from the WDFW legal team.  In addition, both sides have provided a witness list of potential individuals that could be called to the stand when the trials begin.  WDFW list is currently two individuals.  The Advocacy list is pushing a hundred.

One part of the process is subpoenaing witnesses for depositions.  The Advocacy has conducted its first deposition with WDFW’s former rules coordinator Scott Bird (see Update #3 below).  In the video taped deposition, Mr. Bird provided an explanation of his role in the setting of seasons during North of Falcon (NOF).  He carefully walked through how his job was to process forms for the Code Revisors Office so the seasons set by the Department could be adopted as legal rule.  The actual seasons laid out in the forms were determined by a team within WDFW that included over 85 individuals.  Mr. Bird confirmed he did not know how or where a member of the public could find a complete record of the NOF process.   The next WDFW staff deposition tentatively scheduled for next month is WDFW Director   Kelly Susewind.

Those not familiar with legal proceedings of this nature are often confused by the length of the process.  Bottom line, the legal process doesn’t work like the “Perry Mason” television show of the past.  There are no surprises or “gotchas” during this type of process.  All the facts are developed in advance and clearly known to both sides before the trial starts. During the development period, the legal teams operate in accordance with court rules and seldom actually appear before the judge prior to trial unless a motion is filed to resolve a dispute between the legal teams. 

Rest assured, the process is moving.  The Advocacy is preparing for two lengthy trials that will prove interesting to many citizens frustrated with NOF and the manner in which the Department sets seasons behind closed doors.