Judge sanctions Snohomish County deputy prosecutor for misconduct

Judge sanctions Snohomish County deputy prosecutor for misconduct

EVERETT, Wash. — A Washington state judge sanctioned a prosecutor for misconduct in a robbery and shooting case that resulted in the suspect being released, according to court documents.

Deputy Prosecutor Michelle Rutherford was ordered to apologize to the defense attorney, police and her colleagues in the Snohomish County prosecutor's office, The Everett Herald reported Sunday.

Superior Court Judge Anita Farris ordered the sanctions in a Dec. 5 ruling that said Rutherford withheld and destroyed evidence, threatened a witness into testifying and repeatedly lied to the court.

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Farris also ordered Rutherford to take classes in legal ethics and study case law and professional standards.

“Rutherford’s acts interfered with the administration of justice,” Farris wrote. “They resulted in a serious violent crime during which a human being was shot being decided based on her conduct rather than the merits of the charge.”

The case involved the shooting of a 17-year-old in the leg during an alleged drug deal Jan. 28. An 18-year-old suspect was charged with first-degree robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm. Farris dismissed the case and ordered the suspect release in June.

Rutherford defended her actions in court documents, saying life circumstances including a medical procedure and a bereavement delayed her preparation for trial. She remains employed with the prosecutor's office but could not immediately be reached for comment.

County Prosecutor Adam Cornell plans to conduct a “thorough and objective examination” to determine if further action is needed, he said.