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Thurston County sheriff cannot be recalled for not enforcing face mask mandate, court rules

Sheriff John Snaza faced a recall petition due to his statement that deputies would not enforce Gov. Inslee's face mask rule.
Credit: Thurston County Sheriff
Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza.

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza cannot be recalled over his reluctance to enforce the state's COVID-19 rules, the Washington state Supreme Court ruled.

A petition alleged Snaza "committed a recallable offense because he stated in a press release that he would not enforce an order issued by the Washington state secretary of health intended to combat the COVID-19 pandemic."

Snaza appealed the trial court's decision that the recall allegations were sufficient. 

The state Supreme Court ruled that Snaza's discretion to not criminally enforce the order was "not manifestly unreasonable." The court reversed the trial court's ruling, saying the charge is neither factually nor legally sufficient.

“I’m super glad that the Supreme Court voted unanimously," Snaza told KING 5, adding, "That it’s not always about making arrests but being able to communicate and educate.

"This pandemic is still ongoing and we need to continue serving our citizens."