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Saturday, April 19, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

STATE SUPREME COURT

Scales of justice are balanced by heavy skepticism

Editor, The Times:

Let's review this. Attorney Doug Schafer exposed a judge and a client of "milking" an estate, selling an estate asset at a bargain price ("Whistle-blowing attorney gets 6-month suspension," Times, Local News, April 18). The Bar Association reviewed and suspended Schafer for six months, a judge writing "We cannot tolerate for a moment... any disloyalty on the part of a lawyer to his client... In all things he must be true to his trust, or, failing it, he must leave the profession."

What! Sounds to me like the Catholic Church putting itself ahead of the disclosure of the harm done children, leaving in place priests rather than cleaning their house.

The judge removed, suspended from law practice for two years, is now back in practice. Maybe the Bar Association should re-examine some of its standards. Public trust! Excuse me, I'm part of that public and this decision reduces, not enhances, my view of the standards of the Bar Association.

It is encouraging that three of the Supreme Court justices disagreed with the majority decision.

Howard Schjelland, Kenmore

Dismiss without prejudice

What made the Doug Schafer article a most interesting comment about justice in our state is that, in the court opinion explaining this decision, Justice Bobbe Bridge said:

We cannot tolerate for a moment... any disloyalty on the part of a lawyer to his client... In all things he must be true to that trust, or, failing it, he must leave the profession."

Just days before writing this, Justice Bridge was given only a deferred sentence for driving so drunk she did not even know she had struck and damaged a vehicle, and her car had roamed over curbs on both sides of the street.

Now does anyone think that the lawyer was a greater danger to the public than Justice Bridge, who still remains in the highest position of trust for a lawyer in our state, a justice of our Supreme Court? Who should be the one to leave the position of trust?

Bert Metzger, Jr., Seattle

Good deed goes punished

What is happening in our Washington State Supreme Court? Where are some of our justices coming from? Many of them seem to be interpreting the law in a less-than-stellar manner. There have been several very controversial opinions handed down in the past year.

They just suspended an attorney, Douglas Schafer of Tacoma, for violating a client's confidentiality, which enabled a crooked Pierce County Superior Court judge to be thrown off the bench for corruption. Schafer did a huge service for every resident of Washington. What does he get? A six-month suspension.

A few weeks ago, one of our illustrious Supreme Court justices gets arrested for drunken driving and vehicle hit and run. After she pleads guilty and apologizes, what does she get? The support of the other justices, saying what a wonderful person she is.

Our Supreme Court justices should start doing a little soul-searching regarding the letter of the law and what the definition of a wonderful person is. Maybe sitting on the bench in our state makes the above justifiable.

Jere Moody, Vancouver

CONTAINING SARS

Don't isolate Taiwan

The world has learned that SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was first detected in China's Guangdong Province last November, yet the People's Republic of China authorities delayed informing WHO (World Health Organization). Since then, more than 1,804 persons have been infected and 62 others dead in several Southeast Asian countries, according to the world health body on April 2. Globally, the number of victims is increasing with each passing day.

Recently, a few suspected cases of SARS were found in Taiwan, and yet WHO denies us succor and medical assistance. So Taiwan's Ministry of Public Health has been compelled to cope with the epidemic alone. This has indeed highlighted the injustice of Taiwan's exclusion from this global health mechanism.

The rampancy of this mysterious disease also proves that epidemics are not limited by country boundaries and that the efficiency of WHO's global alert and response system will be undermined if Taiwan, which has a population of 23 million, continues to be shut out of the organization.

Taiwan has special experiences, resources, and impressive achievements in health care. Taiwan is very willing to share its experiences with the world, but its exclusion from WHO seriously hinders its ability to effectively and fully share its resources, as well as make contributions.

The People's Republic of China is a WHO member. Ironically, it seems the authorities on the Chinese mainland have failed to fulfill their obligation to that world body. China ought to recognize this global health threat.

The SARS threat again shows that disease doesn't acknowledge borders or politics, and pursuing health and enjoying appropriate medical treatment is a basic human right.

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Congress officially voiced its support to Taiwan by adopting Resolution 441 for the island republic's participation under observer status in the forthcoming summit of the World Health Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the WHO, in May 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland. We hope that more countries come forward to support Taiwan's admission this year.

Jack K.C. Chiang, director general, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Seattle

Casualties of war

Murder expires

In Bill Leon's "Portrait of innocents" (The Reader's View, April 12), he was bemoaning the death of innocent civilians during this war. Of course, he is right. But he doesn't mention the tens of thousands of innocent women, children and men who were murdered in Iraq before this war. Those murders would have continued without our intervention.

With the removal of the Saddam regime, those murders will end. That's my hope, anyway; I hope it's yours, too.

Terry Pratt, Seattle

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