YAKIMA, Wash. — A special investigator appointed to determine the facts involved in eavesdropping allegations against Yakima County prosecutors is expected to deliver his report in less than three weeks.
Both the prosecution and the defense attorney for Daniel Woolem, who was a jail inmate in 2011 when authorities accessed calls between him and his attorney at the time, reached the agreement at a Monday morning hearing in Yakima County Superior Court.
Former Yakima County Prosecutor and retired U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan was appointed special master in charge of filing the report. He will be paid $150 per hour for the investigation, and is not to receive more than $10,000 total without further approval from the court, according to the agreement.
Sullivan is expected to deliver his report no later than Oct. 11. However, Judge Douglas Federspiel indicated in court that the deadline could be pushed back if more time is needed to determine the facts.
In court Monday, Federspiel agreed to prosecutors’ request to change Sullivan’s intended title from special prosecutor to “special master,” a legal term for an appointed official whose expertise would be useful in developing a record of fact in complex civil matters. The change clarifies that Sullivan’s role is only to develop facts that would aid the judge in determining whether to dismiss the case, and is not being asked to seek charges or make a recommendation to the state.
Woolem’s attorney, Ricardo Hernandez, filed a motion to dismiss the case in August after Yakima County Deputy Prosecutor Tamara Hanlon learned and subsequently informed the defense that as many as six of Woolem’s jail calls to his attorney and legal assistants had been accessed in 2011, according to court records.
Sullivan was previously appointed to investigate a similar jailhouse phone eavesdropping incident by sheriff’s investigators in the case of Kevin Harper, the prime suspect in the 2011 triple homicide of the Goggin family. However, that investigation became moot and was never completed after murder charges were dropped against Harper in October 2012.
• Mike Faulk can be reached at 509-577-7675 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Mike_Faulk.