A King County Superior Court judge on Thursday ruled in favor of a motion for sanctions against Lincoln Beauregard, the attorney of the 46-year-old man accusing mayor Ed Murray of child rape, citing ethics violations and ordering Beauregard to pay $5,000.
Murray's defense attorneys requested sanctions against Beauregard on April 25, saying that he misused the court's filing system and filed documents to communicate with the press. In a court hearing Thursday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Veronica Alicea-Galvan Hon sided with the attorneys.
"We've said all along that opposing counsel seems more intent on trying his case in the court of public opinion than in a court of law, and today the judge agreed with us," said Jeff Reading, Murray's spokesperson, in an issued statement Thursday. "Clearly the judge was disturbed by opposing counsel's antics and is taking the rare but serious step of sanctioning him. Mayor Murray deserves a right to due process, and it is our hope that the court’s actions today will prevent opposing counsel from further undermining this basic right."
Beauregard responded to the sanctions in court by saying they would infringe upon his First Amendment rights. In an interview with PubliCola on Thursday, Beauregard said he feels like the judge issued a gag order and that it was unconstitutional.
"We're like sitting here mystified," he said. "I'm not really sure what I'm allowed to say to the public anymore." But Beauregard said he's not sure if he plans to appeal the order and wants "to focus on the merits of the case."
The motion requesting sanctions, first filed by Murray's attorney Malaika Eaton on April 25, said he filed documents with the court for improper purpose, and filed letters that were addressed but not sent to opposing counsel (making them public and open to the press before Murray's attorneys knew about them). Two attorneys, Arthur Lachman and John Strait, had filed declarations supporting the sanctions.
"To be clear—if consistent with the Rules of Professional Conduct—Mr. Beauregard wishes to communicate directly with the press, that is his right," Eaton wrote in the motion for sanctions April 25. "What he cannot do is use the court's filing system as his mouthpiece."