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Inslee and Ferguson joint statement on some public officials disregard of "Stay Home, Stay Healthy"

April 22, 2020

Story 

Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson released a joint statement today in response to some Washington state officials disregard for the governor's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order. 

“It is disappointing when elected officials promote illegal activity that puts their community’s well-being at risk.

“People’s lives are deeply impacted by this crisis. We are working hard to turn the tide on COVID-19 and begin lifting restrictions. These decisions are guided by science. Our priority is keeping Washingtonians healthy.

“The Governor’s Office sent a letter to Franklin County commissioners this morning making clear their action on Tuesday does not change the fact that businesses and residents in their county must follow the state’s emergency orders to keep everyone healthy.

“We have discussed the statements made by the Snohomish County sheriff, and the Attorney General’s Office will be reaching out to Sheriff Fortney directly.

“In both Franklin and Snohomish counties, the prosecutors have informed our office they agree the state’s orders are legal. The Snohomish County sheriff and the Franklin County Commission are misleading business owners and individuals in their jurisdictions, putting people’s health at risk and potentially putting them on the wrong side of the law.

“These orders are legal, and they are working. Do not be misled by local officials who encourage you to risk your health and violate the law. Please continue to take care of yourself, your family and your neighbors.”


Statement by Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Cornell:

"These are unprecedented times in Snohomish County, our state, and around the world. People are understandably anxious, confused, and afraid for their own health and that of their loved ones not to mention their own economic well-being and that of their neighbors. Like our citizens, I share in the earnest desire to return to normalcy.  But we are a nation, state and a county of laws. Like Sheriff Fortney, and other law enforcement and elected officials, I swore an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Washington, not just the laws I agree with. Prosecuting attorneys and sheriffs carry a unique responsibility in our criminal justice system to serve as bulwarks to a civil society.  Put simply, we are elected to serve under the laws not to act above them. An earnest desire to change the law is much different than refusing to enforce it. 

"The constitution and laws of the state of Washington are crystal clear. In times of emergency the Governor is vested with the responsibility, duty, and authority to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of our state. Any attempt to undermine that authority is both irresponsible, unhelpful in these difficult times, and contrary to the rule of law. I fear that the recent statements of Sheriff Fortney will be interpreted by some citizens around the state, to grant license to willfully and blatantly violate the law. Let me be clear: actions have consequences.  State and local emergency proclamations are legally binding on all of us whether we agree with them or not.  A violation of the law carries consequences and as county prosecutor I will continue to uphold my oath and exercise my prosecutorial discretion."

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