Updated, 3 p.m. Wednesday:
WATERVILLE — A hearing in a lawsuit filed by Douglas County residents against Gov. Jay Inslee was continued to the end of the week.
The plaintiffs, led by Douglas County Commissioner Dan Sutton, believe there is no longer a local COVID-19 emergency and believe the local economy could collapse if businesses aren’t allowed to reopen.
The Attorney General’s Office filed a motion this week to move the case to Thurston County Superior Court. Olympia, where Inslee issued the emergency order, is in Thurston County. The hearing was continued to 10:30 a.m. Friday.
The case was filed in Douglas County Superior but is being heard by Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Henry Rawson because all three Douglas County commissioners are party to the lawsuit as private citizens.
A similar lawsuit was filed in Chelan County Superior Court by officials, business leaders and residents. A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday but continued to Thursday morning after Judge Travis Brandt was disqualified due to conflicts of interest he disclosed and reassigned to Judge Kristin Ferrera.
Court Administrator Fona Sugg explained that cases are assigned randomly by the state’s case management system, which, in this instance, selected Ferrera. She tested positive for the coronavirus last week and is working remotely.
According to documents filed in superior court, Brandt disclosed conflicts of interest with three plaintiffs: Chad Sangster, Ruth Esparza and Josh McPherson. He purchased a vehicle and a motor from Sangster’s car dealership, Sangster Motors; he was endorsed by Esparza in his 2018 election campaign; and his daughter attends Grace City Church, where McPherson is lead pastor.