County refuses to pay for sheriff's legal counsel

The Pierce County Council, at its Aug. 17 meeting, voted to deny Sheriff Ed Troyer’s request for legal representation at county expense regarding state and county investigations into his January confrontation with a Black newspaper carrier.

In a letter dated Aug. 10, Troyer asked to hire outside legal counsel.

“As the elected sheriff, my job is full time 24-7. Therefore, I was working at the time of this incident,” Troyer said in the letter, which was read aloud during the meeting. “The investigation will show I acted reasonably and properly and will clear me and Pierce County.”

According to county code, the council determines whether to defend employees or elected officials in criminal cases. The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has opened an investigation to determine if Troyer made a false 911 call saying the newspaper carrier was threatening him.

“Well, I would just add these are unusual circumstances, and elected officials are held to a higher standard,” said Council Chair Derek Young, explaining it is the council’s decision whether to provide Troyer’s legal representation.

Young indicated he would vote to deny Troyer’s request.

The actual voice vote saw four members reject Troyer’s request and three vote to approve it. The council did not hold a roll call vote.

Other major business conducted by the council included terminating the county’s existing hearing examiner contract and initiating a contract with a new one. According to Resolution R2021-138, Andrew Reeves of Sound Law Center, LLC, will be appointed to the position next year when the current contract with Stephen Causseaux of McCarthy & Causseaux, LLC, expires at the end of 2021.

“This is really an important role,” Councilmember Ryan Mello said. “The role of hearing examiner provides a very important, fair place to adjudicate land use disputes, to help implement our land use regulations in a fair, impartial, straightforward way.”

Pierce County uses a hearing examiner system for quasi-judicial decisions. The hearing examiner position is appointed by the council and charged with the responsibility of conducting public hearings, preparing the official record thereof, preparing findings of fact and conclusions of law and issuing final decisions.

Reeves, who resides in Tacoma, was in attendance.

“So, it is local to me, and I’m excited to serve this function in the community,” he told the council.

The council passed an ordinance establishing a business accelerator program with a focus on supporting minorities.

Two new members were appointed to the Pierce County Behavioral Health Advisory Board: Cameron Birk and Jeannie Larberg.

Five new members were appointed to the Pierce County Human Services Citizens' Advisory Board: Bridgette Johnson, Jennifer Sullivan, Mia McFarland, Sean Whalen and Yvonne Starks.

With America preparing to receive potentially thousands of refugees from Afghanistan as the United States works to evacuate citizens fleeing Afghanistan following the collapse of its government to the Taliban, the council passed a resolution welcoming Afghan refugees to Pierce County.


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