Judge Rules Sheriff Can Be Recalled For Not Enforcing Unenforcable Lockdown Law

Holly Matkin

Lori Shavlik spearheaded the ongoing effort to recall Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney.

Everett, WA – The Snohomish County sheriff is facing a potential recall after a judge decided he violated his oath to uphold the law by saying he wouldn't enforce any lockdown orders.

However, law enforcement has no legal way to enforce the lockdown order on individuals without violating the Washington State constitution, and so Governor Jay Inslee has not asked law enforcement to be involved.

Instead, the Attorney General's Office is taking regulatory actions against businesses which violate the order.

In a Facebook post on April 21, Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney outlined his frustrations with the stay-at-home order and argued that the lockdown violates citizens’ constitutional rights.

“As your Snohomish County Sheriff, yes I believe that preventing business owners to operate their businesses and provide for their families intrudes on our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” the sheriff wrote. “I am greatly concerned for our small business owners and single-income families who have lost their primary source of income needed for survival.”

Sheriff Fortney noted that “this virus is very real” and agreed that “appropriate precautions need to be taken to protect our most vulnerable populations.”

But the government has been “picking winners or losers” with regards to who is allowed to work and who is prohibited, he said.

Sheriff Fortney pointed out that landscaping around the courthouse has continued because the government deemed it as essential, but that contractors building residential homes have been ordered to remain shut down.

“If we are going to allow government contractors and pot shops to continue to make a living for their families, then it is time to open up this freedom for other small business owners who are comfortable operating in the current climate,” he wrote.

The sheriff also argued that citizens are capable of and willing to take precautions on their own.

“Our communities have already shown and continue to show they understand the severity of the situation and are doing all they can already to keep themselves, their families and neighbors safe and healthy,” he added.

Sheriff Fortney vowed to keep citizens’ “constitutional rights above politics or popular opinion,” and said that the “impacts of COVID 19 no longer warrant the suspension” of those rights.

“Along with other elected Sheriffs around our state, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office will not be enforcing an order preventing religious freedoms or constitutional rights,” the sheriff concluded. “This is not a time to blindly follow, this is a time to lead the way.”

His statement was little more than political posturing because the governor has not even requested local law enforcement's involvement in the lockdown order.

In a subsequent post on May 4, Sheriff Fortney said he has received “overwhelming expressions of support” on the issue, to include an endorsement by the Snohomish County Deputy Sheriff’s Association.

“I have never encouraged defiance of the law,” he clarified. “The governor has not asked any law enforcement agencies to enforce the order. What our office is doing is consistent with law enforcement agencies statewide and follows the recommendation from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.”

On Friday, Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning determined that a recall petition filed by Bothell resident Lori Shavlik would be allowed to proceed, KING reported.

According to Warning, Sheriff Fortney is violating his oath to uphold the law by refusing to enforce the state's lockdown order which he's not even supposed to be enforcing.

Shavlik alleged that the sheriff’s words emboldened at least one business owner to reopen in violation of the executive order.

"You absolutely have to stand by the statute of the law because it is the standard set by the government to establish safety for our communities," She told KING. "[Sheriff Fortney’s message is] causing harm to people, even if it's a joke. Even if it's not true or he didn't mean to cause harm, it's causing harm.”

Shavlik said that she has no choice but to spearhead the effort to remove Sheriff Forney from office.

“I’m not gonna be happy that I displaced someone from their job,” she told KING. “It’s about justice.”

In order to move forward with a recall vote, Shavlik must gather approximately 42,000 signatures over the course of the next six months.

She said she plans to hire professionals to handle the recall effort, KIRO reported.

“This isn’t my recall – it’s the community’s,” Shavlik said.

Sheriff Fortney doubled-down on his stance in a Facebook post after the ruling was made on Friday.

“This afternoon a court determined that an elected Sheriff can be subject to recall for expressing political disagreement with the Governor’s policies,” he wrote. “I stand by my statement that the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is not going to arrest people for a gross misdemeanor when they pray, go to church or express their views under the First Amendment…Although I did not ask for this fight, I will not shrink from it.”

Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell has denied Sheriff Fortney’s request that the county cover the legal costs associated with him defending himself against the recall effort, HeraldNet reported.

“By directly or indirectly encouraging people to disobey data-driven, science-based lawful orders handed down expressly to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to protect our health and well-being during this pandemic emergency, your statement is fairly construed to support behavior that puts all citizens at greater risk of harm and death,” Cornell wrote in response to the sheriff’s request.

“Put simply your words were akin to yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” Cornell alleged.

Sheriff Fortney said he told citizens to exercise their rights and to contact their local and state leaders, and denied having ever encouraged anyone to defy the law.

A second recall petition has been filed by a group of citizens who dubbed themselves as the Committee to Recall Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney, HeraldNet reported.

The petition has been endorsed by two defense attorneys, an immigration lawyer, and a civil attorney.

“I believe we have a strong case and we believe it will be up to the voters very soon,” public defender and chairman of the group Colin McMahon told the news outlet. “It is clear the law is on our side. Sheriff Fortney has refused to protect our health and safety.”

A fundraising page established to help pay for Sheriff Fortney’s legal expenses has raised over $68,000 so far.

Comments (35)
No. 1-16

So let me see if I got this right...

A sheriff has declared that he won't enforce an unenforceable executive order ("law") signed by the governor who said the "law" was unenforceable.

Now, that sheriff is in trouble for failing to enforce an unenforceable executive order ("law") signed by the governor who said the "law" was unenforceable.

Is that about it??


It's blue Washington state. Why am I not surprised. But 42,000 voter signatures is a pretty tall order in a county that elected him.


Give a governor or mayor a little power and they hang onto it like a mad dog with a bone.


Sometimes it is better to keep your mouth shut.

Jim H. - Virginia US
Jim H. - Virginia US

Nothing wrong with a recall vote of the citizens, but how could they vote to recall him? This man is honoring his oath and the law.

His facebook post linked at the end of the first paragraph in the article is great.

Here is Shavlik's recall petition...

Let me add...

Shavlik denied trying to torch her own business. She and her husband owned a second tanning salon in Monroe.

This was the second trial for Shavlik, 46. A jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision last year after deliberating for about two days.

Here is what it is really all about. Go to the page and read her comments...


Her tanning salon nearly burned down three times!


Shavlik is going to hire a professional company to get the petitions signed..... sounds to me like her name will appear on a ballot for public office in the near future. She wants name recognition.

A law that is unenforceable won't be enforced. Sheriff hasn't violated anything, except maybe good judgment, until that time when the authority having jurisdiction orders the law/statute enforced. If this was a civil matter she would be opening herself up for a counter suit of a frivolous law suit being filed.


"Judge Rules Sheriff Can Be Recalled For Not Enforcing -Unenforcable- Lockdown Law"
Wait.... what?


Sounds to me as if the Judge has been compromised to the point of absolute stupidity and should be recalled as soon as possible. Liberals can be so revealingly idiotic.


Typical democrat not able to take responsibility for their decisions so must blame others.


There is NO valid legal authority for either state or local emergency orders.
You can see the truth in how it is worded:
"guidelines" "suggestions" "recommendations" "advice" "rules" "orders"
They are not called "Laws" because they are NOT LAWS and as such cannot be legally enforced.


So even the governor says that the his ruling is unenforceable and the Sheriff agreed. So this snowflake gets a judge (activist) from another county to say that she can petition for a recall because he advised he would not enforce an unenforceable law (rule). Unbelievable.


Sounds like that woman iz a power trip Thanks Texas Jester for spelling unenforceable correctly Unenforcable Unforcible LoL Sounds Like un forkable some body shouls stick a fork in that Lady democrat and tell her she iz done hahahaha


them dumb democrats are so dumb thats Like Trying to tell US STRAIGHT SINGLE AMERICAN MEN to Not Look at & to Not want Hot Beauitifull Single Sexy Women to Love hahahaha them democrats are a bunch of gender benders they are a bunch of fruitcakes


It's doubtful the sheriff will be recalled by the efforts of this bunch of idiots. The governor may be a different story...


Too many of these "Comrade Governors" and similar socio-political lackeys would make the East German Stasi bow in reverence and jealousy. We are turning from Rule Of Law to Rule By Law; endless duplicative "laws" mean Power (=Money) under any circumstance. Oh....doesn't this WA governor look a lot like Comrade Kim of North Korea?...Odd similarity...


A former Stasi member, Wolfgang Schmidt, was recently interviewed by the McClatchy news service. Unsurprisingly, there's a hint of envy in his discussion of the US government's surveillance infrastructure.

“You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” he said, recalling the days when he was a lieutenant colonel in the defunct communist country’s secret police, the Stasi.

As was pointed out late last year, the US government has more data on the average American citizen than the East German Stasi, a division created solely to surveil German citizens. This was noted before the recent leaks, meaning what's been gathered by the NSA, FBI, etc. is exponentially greater than previously estimated.

What makes people believe that human nature is essentially any different in the US than it is elsewhere?
To believe that despotism is impossible here is not merely naive; it is foolhardy.

Police have no more reason to desire this state of affairs than any other citizen for the simple reason that they themselves will have to live under the boot of tyranny right along with the rest of the public.

Those who qualify as members of the ruling class may have no such reservations.