Gaylord explains Parks Bay case

I write to set out the facts in the Parks Bay case, the one in which a

judge made an oral ruling regarding sanctions against the County. This

matter was widely reported 11 years ago as it unfolded. Today, there is

widespread speculation and misunderstanding about its significance.

I have always been comfortable providing the facts on the motion for

sanctions because they were explained in writing and documented in a

Settlement Agreement. Briefly, the issue of sanctions was raised, the

court made a preliminary ruling, that ruling was disputed in a motion for

reconsideration, and then settled. An affidavit in support of the motion

for reconsideration was provided by Richard Settle, and is available at The Settlement Agreement,

signed and initialed by all attorneys is available at

No Order mentions sanctions. No findings were made. The only document

signed by the judge after the oral ruling is the Judgment, which is

available at

This omission is significant because a written order controls over an oral

ruling. A judge’s oral decision is no more than a verbal expression of his

informal opinion at that time. It is necessarily subject to further study

and consideration, and may be altered, modified, or completely abandoned.

It has no final or binding effect, unless formally incorporated into the

findings, conclusions, and judgment.

What is the public to do? First, consider that if a court desires to

impose sanctions, it is incumbent on the court to make findings in an

order. This rule exists to guard against the type of misunderstandings

that can arise years later.

Second, consider that an informal ruling of sanctions against a county

pursuant to a civil rule is not a finding of “professional

misconduct” on the part of the attorney. A mistake under a court

rule is a legal error. This is said to categorize the type of error, and

not to make light of it. I regret that the judge said there was an error,

and it was promptly compromised and settled at the direction of the

County’s Risk Management Committee.

If you have additional questions or believe additional documents would

help your understanding, please call me at 360-376-3076.