Today's court hearing regarding the Charter Propositions began at 10:30 am and ended at 5:00 pm. The lawyers arguing the case were Stephanie Johnson O'Day for the plaintiffs and Randy Gaylord and Jeff Even (Washington State Solicitor General) for the defense. Of the named parties, those in attendance were Jeffrey Bossler and Jerry Gonce (two of the three plaintiffs); Council members Marc Forlenza, Rick Hughes, Patty Miller, and Rich Peterson (Jarman is still recovering from surgery); and candidates Greg Ayers, Lisa Byers, and Lovel Pratt. Reporters were present from the Island Guardian, sanjuanislander.com, Sound Publishing (Journal, Sounder, Island Weekly), and Orcas Issues. In the morning, there were about 40 people in attendance, dwindling down to about half that by the end of the day. The audience included former Councilman Richard Fralick, Bob Gamble of Kwiaht and the Planning Commission, Tim Blanchard of CSA and the Planning Commission, Bill Wright of CAPR, and others.
The court made no rulings. It left open the possibility of a future evidentiary hearing, but no one is really expecting that to happen. However, the judge allowed one week to accept further declarations and input from the necessary parties. After that, the judge promises to rule promptly well before the general election.
As for who "won" today, that seems to be unclear. Each side made best use of the tools that it had. For example, O'Day is getting high marks for persuasively presenting evidence about unconstitutional elements, damage to the Council members who lost out on their terms, points of policy regarding unequal size districts, conflicting ballot language, the "Lopez effect", and other matters related to standing and/or voter confusion.
On the other hand, Gaylord and Even were said to be polished and prepared, and according to many, they mounted effective legal defenses backed by substantial case law. In effect, they argued that regardless of the evidence presented by O'Day, no law was broken.
Who won seems to depend on whether you were persuaded more by O'Day's evidence than by Gaylord/Even's polish and case law (or the other way around).
A few things are clear, however. For example, it seems highly unlikely that the plaintiffs' case could ever be considered frivolous (an allegation made by Gaylord prior to this hearing). Just the fact that the judge held a hearing for 6.5 hours would seem to negate that possibility. On the other hand, frivolous or not, the burden of proof on the plaintiffs multiple causes of action is still quite high.
The bottom line is that the whole shootin' match is still in play for both sides, and Gaylord asked the court to consider remedies in the event that the judge is likely to side with the plaintiffs.