Habeas Denied in Faire Murder Case Ruling: No Attorney for 6 Months ‘Okay’
By Kelly Stone
Okanogan, WA – Back in June of 2015, the US~Observer began an investigation into the murder charge (and others) filed against James “Strat” Faire. In October of 2015, I reported on the blatant injustice that was occurring in this case with respect to the evidence being ignored by Prosecutor Karl Sloan, evidence that clearly shows Faire acted in self-defense, while a felony assault was in progress against Faire and Angela Nobilis at Richard Finegold’s Sourdough property, located in Tonasket, WA.
Faire supporters were able to hire Attorney Stephen Pidgeon to represent Faire. On February 10, 2016, Pidgeon filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus demanding that the court drop Faire’s charges for violating his Constitutional Rights. Pidgeon also filed a Motion for bail reduction.
After eight long and torturous months of incarceration, most of them spent without an attorney representing him, James Faire walked out of the Okanogan County Jail on the afternoon of February 19, 2016. Judge Christopher Culp granted bail reduction from $750,000 to $150,000.
In a memorandum of law to the Okanogan Superior Court for the State of Washington, Attorney Stephen Pidgeon, Faire’s counsel of record states:
“… his [James Faire’s] restraint was made illegal upon his first presentation in court on September 14, 2015 without benefit of counsel, and that the incarceration continued in violation of the Sixth Amendment rights as made applicable to the state under the Fourteenth Amendment, and in violation of Article I, Section 3 of the Washington Constitution.”
In responding to Pidgeon’s motion, Prosecutor Karl Sloan had the gall to attempt to deceive the court by stating that a public defender appeared at each of James Faire’s hearings after his original attorney Nicholas Blount withdrew from the case, including, on two occasions, Melissa MacDougall. MacDougall already “represented” Angela Nobilis (James Faire’s co-defendant on two charges) and was barred by the Rules of Professional Conduct from participating in a co-defendant’s defense!
On March 7, 2016, Judge Christopher Culp denied Faire’s Writ of Habeas Corpus, however, he removed illegal restrictions on Faire’s freedom before trial such as drug testing, etc. In essence, Culp condoned the fact that a Defendant can sit in jail for months and months and appear at numerous hearings without an Attorney – I vehemently disagree with him.
Attorney Stephen Pidgeon has stated that he is preparing an Interlocutory Appeal to the WA Court of appeals regarding the Habeas Motion that Culp denied.
Prosecutor Karl Sloan was almost venomous at the hearing, as he attempted to defeat the Motions. Amazing, given the fact that this out of control prosecutor has absolutely no evidence against James Faire. And what’s worse, is that he is factually protecting proven criminals and their well-documented crimes in this case.
Okanogan Citizenry Speaks Out
The US~Observer has received in excess of 40 calls from Okanogan residents with complaints of abuse, negligence and unethical actions pertaining to Prosecutor Karl Sloan, the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office and the Okanogan County Public Defender’s Office (OCPDO).
State Violates Constitutional Rights (in work)
Attorney Melissa MacDougall is the administrator of the OCPDO pool. MacDougall’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the assignment of appropriate counsel to accused individuals. Former investigators and public defenders who served in the county’s criminal justice system have come forward with information indicating just how allegedly corrupt, incompetent and ruthless the OCDPO is and how MacDougall works in perfect tandem with Okanogan County Prosecutor Karl Sloan. One complainant states, “Public defenders are overworked and underpaid.” Another states, “Melissa MacDougall [the public defender contract pool administrator] has no time to oversee the PD system. This has led to a massive turnover of the lawyers under her.” Another told us, “James Faire will never get a fair trial in Okanogan County if he is represented by a public defender.” Another credible caller informed us that, “MacDougall and Sloan actually work together. When Karl was running against Judge Rawson for his seat on the Superior Court in 2012, she had campaign posters in her public defender’s office backing Sloan. She has openly shown disdain for Rawson more than once.” And yet another person states, “MacDougall and Michael Prince work together. They were both sued in Grant County for not representing their clients, then they migrated to Okanogan where they have continued the same practices that they were sued for in Grant County.” These claims are validated in part by the fact that MacDougall was appointed to represent James Faire’s co-defendant Angela Nobilis and MacDougall recused Judge Rawson from Nobilis’ case. After firing MacDougall weeks ago, Nobilis stated, “I don’t know anything negative about Judge Rawson and I had no idea that my own attorney had worked with the prosecutor in my case to unseat Judge Rawson until I was informed by the US~Observer.”
According to the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) Standards for Indigent Defense Services:
“The caseload of public defense attorneys shall allow each lawyer to give each client the time and effort necessary to ensure effective representation. Neither defender organizations, county offices, contract attorneys nor assigned counsel should accept workloads that, by reason of their excessive size, interfere with the rendering of quality representation. As used in this Standard, “quality representation” is intended to describe the minimum level of attention, care and skill that Washington citizens would expect of their state’s criminal justice system.”
Under the “oversight” of MacDougall, court records show James Faire was without the benefit of counsel between August 18, 2015 and January 11, 2016. Regardless of the lack of legal representation, Faire was consistently brought before the court, a clear violation of his state and federal constitutional rights.
Faire’s only recourse to address the fact that he did not have legal counsel was to write a letter to the court. Public defenders Michael Prince, Myles Johnson (no longer with the public defender contract pool) and Kelly Seago failed to file “notices of appearances” on Faire’s behalf, signaling a refusal to take the case. Court audio captures the fact that Seago was scolded by Superior Court Judge Henry Rawson during three separate hearings which occurred between October and December of 2015. Seago spluttered out a series of excuses month after month until finally James Faire was forced to hire private counsel. On January 11, 2016, Seago blurted out yet another ill-thought-out excuse (she blamed the court clerk) on her failure to file the “notice of appearance,” this time before Superior Court Judge Christopher Culp.
With so much on the line, one has to ask, where is the oversight of MacDougall and the public defenders? The County Commissioners are responsible for awarding public defense contracts. According to the Okanogan County Commissioners website, the Okanogan County Commission derives its legislative powers directly from Washington State statutes:
“The primary legislative powers of the board of commissioners are found in RCW 36.32.120. The powers include: construction and maintenance of public buildings; granting licenses; fixing the tax levies for the county and having the same collected; authorizing payments owed by the county and auditing all officers having control of county monies; managing county property and county funds; prosecuting and defending all actions for and against the county; and making and enforcing by appropriate resolutions and ordinances and all such police and sanitary regulations not in conflict with state law.”
In 2012, MacDougall openly campaigned on behalf of Sloan who sought a seat as a superior court judge. What would you do if you walked into your attorney’s office and found out he/she was campaigning for the corrupt prosecutor who was intent on falsely convicting you? Sources state “it is well known that within the community, Attorney Melissa MacDougall and Prosecutor Karl Sloan are good friends and their families have been known to spend the holidays together.” By now, I’m sure you have the same question we have: have MacDougall and Sloan also violated the professional code of conduct by divulging information about cases to one another? Worse yet, has McDougall colluded with Sloan, in a spirit of friendship, to allow false convictions? Some of our readers in Okanogan have alleged exactly that.
Regarding this case, three things are quite clear: (1) Okanogan County’s supposed justice system has completely violated James Faire’s and Angela Nobilis’ Constitutional Rights. (2) This same corrupted justice system is factually headed for a train-wreck and (3) The members of this abusive Okanogan County Cabal will, without question be held accountable before this case is over…
Editor’s Note: Anyone with information on any of the people who are named in this article is urged to contact Edward Snook at 541-474-7885 or by email at email@example.com.
This is a continuing investigation. Previous articles which can be read online at usobserver.com starting with:
“Escaped with Their Lives, Then Charged with Murder – The James Faire Story”
More detailed information and ways to materially and otherwise support James Faire are at the following Faire Foundation sites: