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Month: May 2015

State v. Jones: Bad Stop or Bad Laws?

State vs Jones - Bad Stop - Bad Laws - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

The Police Stop: A Quandary

Most of us do not want a police state where government officials or police can simply stop you and ask you for your “papers” for no reason.  Yet there is also that righteous indignation about those who “get off” “scot-free” because of “technicalities.” Consider this tension in the context of vehicle stops for minor technicalities. On one hand, no one wants to be stopped on their way to work for failing to follow a perfect vector down the road. On the other hand, we do not want our spouses, children, and friends to be put in danger on the roadway.

Years ago Division One of the Court of Appeals issued what became a somewhat controversial opinion in State v. Prado. You can read more about Prado here or review the opinion in full here. In short, the case concerned a driver who drove across an eight-inch white line by two tire widths while exiting the freeway. The driver was stopped for violating RCW 46.61.140(1) which requires vehicles to be driven “as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane…”

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Jury or Judge: Can You Kill a Corpse?

Brelo - Judge Jury Executioner - Police - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

When I first heard the news that there was a verdict in Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo’s shooting case I was pleased. I thought it would give me a great opportunity to demonstrate what I had been talking about in prior posts regarding these types of cases: Let the Jury Decide, Let the Jury Decide, Let the Jury Decide. Except this case was not decided by a Jury. It was decided by a Judge. Ugh.

A judge trial, more properly called a ‘bench trial’, is rare. Very rare. As in, you almost never seriously consider it in criminal cases. In divorces, at least in Washington State, you are stuck with them. I guess that is because there is no Constitutional Right to a jury trial in those cases, no presumption of innocence, no proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Just two angry former lovers fighting over toasters and pet dogs and who gets to (or in some cases, has to) take the kids over holiday weekends. (Sorry Mimi and SDS, but you know it’s true. As I always say I’d rather handle a rape or murder case any day than a divorce. Much less nasty.)

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To Play the Race Card or Not to Play the Race Card? That is the Question.

The Race Card - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

This again?

I had not planned on talking more about this issue but after being asked some really interesting questions I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It gets so complicated. The best question was whether it is EVER possible to “play the race card”? Of course it is. The problem is that for every time someone “plays the race card” you have twenty people accusing them of playing the race card without justification. Which is the entire problem.

Quite frankly, I personally believe that most people who accuse someone of playing the race card are probably racist at some level, if not overtly, then subconsciously. At the very least, they do not have a very nuanced worldview.

However, since playing the race card has come to mean falsely accusing someone of being a racist, then saying someone is “playing the race card” when they are calling an actual racist a racist is to falsely accuse someone of falsely accusing someone of being racist. Everything turns into this crazy fuzzy pretzel logic where you have people falsely accusing people of falsely accusing people of things, which ties in nicely with my experience practicing criminal law, since that is the world I live in every day.

False accusations. Or not, as the case may be.

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The Race Card

The Race Card - Trolls - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

Since I am relatively new to this whole blogging thing I am still learning. I have a lot to learn.

For example, until recently I thought trolls were only something you found in scary fairy tales. But I am getting lots of random nasty comments from sad people with nothing to do all day other than spew venom online. I don’t have time for that type of thing.

I am way too busy working my tail off trying to help people solve their legal problems, being a good father and husband, shopping for groceries and cooking and cleaning and everything else it takes to lead a productive successful life. And, occasionally, having a little fun doing this stuff.

But spew at people I don’t know? Why on earth would I ever want to do that? I have a life. So, I don’t.

That said… heh heh… although they are called trolls I think they should be called Neanderthals. Cave men. That’s because they must be living in caves to think some of the things they think. And to have time to do what they do.

I mean, I have a view to keep me occupied.

In particular these cave dwellers like to say things like: “Way to play the Race Card!” Hmm. I always have to scratch my head when I hear people talk about the “Race Card”. I am not sure what they mean.

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Who Really “Won” the Tsarnaev Trial?

Who Really Won the Tsarnaev Trial - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

Well I guess I was wrong about the jury in the Tsarnaev case.

Sounding a bit facetious (but not really) I did not expect them to play so willingly into the Tsarnaev brothers’ murderous hands. Nor show such mercy. To some of you doing that may not make much sense (and I would have to assume that most of you would be defense lawyers like me.)  For the rest of you, read on.

Taking that second point first, since it is so much easier to explain, let’s begin with what it really feels like to be locked up in U.S. Federal Detention. I know. I have been there. No, not because I’ve been in trouble. It’s because I have been inside the “Belly of the Beast” visiting clients when there was some minor security breach and the entire facility, lawyers, visitors, and everyone else under the sun, are all “LOCKED DOWN“, and ordered to stay precisely where we were until the dust settled. It’s no fun. Really NO FUN.

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Free Range Chicken vs. Free Range Kids

Free Range Kids - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

Or….  Enough About Police Brutality Already; Let’s Talk about Something Really Controversial:  Parenting!

Free Range Chicken is a good thing right? We all know that the more “free” things are the better they are. To eat, at least. Even Eric Holder is in on the being free movement, proclaiming his new-found freedom now that Loretta Lynch is finally the Attorney General.

But seriously, what gives? It is just so ironic that some of the same people who insist on having all things roam free and be devoid of giant corporate controls are the same folks who shudder to think about the idea that actual people, children no less, might be better off that way too.

I’m not talking necessarily about the Nanny State, although that is part of the issue now that they are getting involved in this. I am talking about Nanny Parents.

The ones who drive their kids everywhere, scheduling them out to the max, never allowing them a spare moment to think or do anything for themselves, making sure that they are protected from the world, unable to find out anything for themselves.

And thus unable to learn and grow and develop in the same way that most of us did; following mindlessly along from Soccer practice to cello lessons to college prep classes. All when they are five. It’s ridiculous.

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Richard Sherman: A True Story of American Racism

Richard Sherman - A True Story of American Racism - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog
Seahawks at Redskins 10/6/14

Huh?  Let me explain.

I love Richard Sherman. He’s a kind of a hero to me.

I’m standing in the Oak Harbor Walmart, the only place to buy Seahawks t-shirts on Whidbey Island. There are three choices: Marshawn Lynch, The Beast, that Caterpillar bulldozer of strength, calling my name. Russell Wilson, Mr. Perfect, and who can argue with that?

And then there’s Sherman. The loud-mouthed Stanford guy who speaks his mind and speaks the truth as he sees it and consequences be damned… especially when they take the form of racist idiots who just don’t get that a kid from Compton might actually be smart enough to graduate from the best University in the World, and even manage to earn his Masters Degree while still playing college ball.

My kinda guy. I grab a #25 and head for the check out stand.

‘Sherm’ was universally reviled when he dared to show some emotion after playing a key role in Seattle’s huge victory in the NFC Championship over San Francisco a year ago, when he deflected a last second potentially game winning pass, before the Seahawks went on to trounce Denver 43-8 in the Superbowl.

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Baltimore and the War on Drugs

Baltimore and the War on Drugs - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

It is not always crystal clear what causes things like riots to get out of control.  One politician even blamed gay marriage for what has been happening in Baltimore recently(!) I try to be open minded about other people’s opinions, but seriously?

A more serious claim made by both teachers and parents, is that the riots last Monday were caused in large part by overly aggressive police who were determined to stop a riot that was not happening, thereby creating one. They state that heavily armed police prevented students from leaving school as they usually do, by shutting down their school buses, thus forcing the kids out onto the streets, where random groups of typical teenagers were then harassed by those same police because they were gathering precisely where the police had forced them to gather. Quite a claim.  And one which should be looked into more closely.

What is clear is that something bad happened.  A whole lot of people were out there doing a whole lot of damage, committing a bunch of major felonies, who seemed to be enjoying acting badly on national TV. But notwithstanding that this out of control behavior was wrong and bad and criminal, we are still left with the nagging question of exactly why they are so upset?

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BALTIMORE IS BURNING

BALTIMORE IS BURNING - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

I’ve been watching the events in Baltimore over the past two weeks with fascination. And Horror. It’s like watching a Shakespearean drama unfold, only it’s real.

When I first heard the news about Freddie Gray dying in police custody I groaned out loud for several reasons, one of which was my totally selfish desire to be able to go one week without another death at the hands of the police forcing me to blog about it. So, I resisted.

But I also hesitated because the facts were so bizarre. I listened to the usual suspects all over the airwaves, opining away, when it was obvious that it was going to take some very thorough investigation and analysis to get to the bottom of what occurred during Mr. Gray’s arrest and transport.

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