Cast change in mayor’s court drama could be looming

The court saga of Washougal Mayor Sean Guard has already seen plenty of change among its starring cast. And now the Cowlitz County-based drama could be in for more.

Guard’s attorney, Kris Carrasco, is seeking to have Judge Edward Putka remove the Cowlitz County Prosecutor’s Office from the mayor’s misdemeanor case, court records show. Guard is charged with impersonating a law-enforcement officer.

Carrasco argued in court documents the Cowlitz County Prosecutor’s Office failed to provide assurance Aaron Bartlett, a former Guard attorney and current Cowlitz prosecutor, did not share information about the case with his new coworkers.

Guard entered a not guilty plea July 11 to a charge of second-degree criminal impersonation for allegedly using the emergency lights on his city-owned vehicle to get past slower traffic on Interstate 5 near Kelso on Dec. 24, 2010.

Guard’s trial was scheduled to start Oct. 21. Instead, he now has a Nov. 3 motion hearing to determine who will prosecute his case. Guard does not have a trial date at this time.

“Our goal is to disqualify the prosecutor’s office,” said Carrasco, an attorney with Vancouver Defenders law firm. “Who gets appointed afterward is the next step we will address with the judge when we get there.”

Guard declined comment via email.

Putka is the second judge to hear Guard’s case.

Previously, Guard’s then-attorney Luka Vitasovic filed an “affidavit of prejudice” against Judge David Koss asking for him to be removed. The affidavit did not list a reason for the request, nor did it need to, said Cowlitz County court administrator Delaura Wirkkala.

Shortly after Koss’ removal, Guard referred questions about the matter to Vitasovic, who has since moved to the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office.

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