Some Appellants Never Get A Break

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

In our criminal justice system, appellants tend to fall into three categories: Those who ultimately prevail in their arguments; those who are unable to convince justices of their case’s merits; and those who fall off a cliff and strike every sharp rock on their way to the bottom. Steven Canha apparently suffered the fate of the last category.

After extensive appeals, one of which was to the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Canha lost what could be his final personal restraint petition before Washington’s courts of appeals and now the state’s Supreme Court halted the years long contention for his release from prison.

Mr. Canha argues, in short, for a resentencing based on Washington’s determinate sentencing grid by reason of incompatibility of foreign laws to Washington’s and argues for removal of prior convictions to reduce his prison term. But being probably the most unfortunate man in recent memory, a unanimous Court determined applicability of prior violations based largely upon obsolete laws (effective at the time) and time/date dictated ultimately how long his imprisonment occurred.

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NFL Logo No Longer Shown On NFL Sponsor Papa John’s Website

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

After the recent controversy involving NFL players kneeling before the National Anthem at the beginning football games, long time NFL sponsor Papa John’s Pizza no longer displays the NFL Logo or indications of sponsorship on its official website.

While no reference as to the reasons given has been made readily publicly available, there exists the possibility the company might be having at least reservations with presently displaying a logo engendering increasing disfavor with large segments of its customer base.

Papa John’s once branded itself as the Official Pizza of the NFL.

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The United Methodist Church And My Loss Of Faith In Its Mission

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

It comes with much personal reflection that after the United Methodist Church’s Annual Conference for the Pacific Northwest Conference area, encompassing where I live in Washington State, I decided to leave the church after seeing what I believe to be the church leadership moving away from spirituality and Christian teachings to a place where members of the hierarchy in our conference use the Church as a platform to pontificate a particular flavor of politics, aligning itself with an American political party, promoting organizations that provide legal advice to those who evade the law, and worst of all having members that promote an organization that advocates the killing of law enforcement officers. This is a sad outcome, but it represents an evolution of thinking becoming endemic to particular districts. I do not believe that most of the districts approve generally of these changes but unfortunately for me they encompass the area I reside. The best choice for me was to end my relationship.

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Tenth Circuit Strips Qualified Immunity After Sheriff’s Office Raids Home Of Tea Growers

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

There are some cases where probable cause is questioned and there are a few others that leave me shaking my head in disbelief of how ridiculous some officers can be.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently handed down a stinging rebuke of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and its deputies some of whom, Plaintiffs claim, lied about a field test of a suspected Marijuana product, finding evidence of marijuana grow derived from purchasing tools at a gardening retailer somehow established probable cause sufficient to send in a SWAT team to execute a search warrant and detain a couple for several hours.

The leafy green vegetable matter in question was not marijuana but tea leaves.

It is a classic example of department officials promising to make a publicity garnering drug sweep and when arrests are not made, someone must be sent to jail at all costs. And as can often be the case with such maligned efforts the end result was a civil rights lawsuit in federal court.

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Oregon Organic Farm Threatened With Forced Herbicide Use Reaches Settlement With County

Last weekend we featured two articles (HERE and HERE) describing a controversy involving the forced use of chemical herbicides on an organic farm that according to County officials was out of compliance in controlling noxious weeds that were threatening neighboring farms and crops.

The 2,000 acre organic farm in North Central Oregon is facing what could be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides to eradicate weed growth.

I attended the public hearing held at the Sherman County seat located in Moro, Oregon. Due to a very high volume of interest expressed by residents and those outside the community, the venue was changed from the County Courthouse to a gymnasium at the Sherman County High School. There was a great deal of uncertainty manifest in this hearing with strongly held opinions on many sides and one can say with near certainty that the publicity generated caused turmoil in this small community. In fact, the concern was so great, that a number of law enforcement officials were dispatched to the area to provide security to address a worry that things might get out of hand. But in the end the two sides reached an agreement that precludes the forced use of herbicides–and offered both a carrot and stick for both parties to strongly consider.

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Agricultural Scientist Responds To Oregon County’s Mandate To Apply Herbicides To Organic Farm

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Yesterday I fielded an article concerning a rather distressing mandate by an Oregon county weed control agency seeking to force the application of hazardous herbicides onto a 2,000 acre organic farm owned by Azure Farms. Sherman County Oregon maintains this scorched earth policy is necessary to abate, or more specifically “eradicate”, weeds listed by state statute as noxious.

Now, the scientific community is responding to this overreaching government action by acting in the interests of health and responsible environmental stewardship through advocacy in the hopes that officials in Sherman County will reconsider their mandate.

Dr. Charles Benbrook is a highly credentialed research professor and expert serving on several boards of directors for agribusiness and natural resources organizations. Having read news of Sherman County’s actions, he penned an authoritative response I believe will make informative reading for those concerned by present and future implications in the forced use of herbicides under the rubric of noxious weed eradication, and the damage to organic farming generally arising from such mandates.

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Oregon County Mandates 2,000 Acre Organic Farm Sprayed With Chemical Herbicides

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A 2,000 acre organic farm in central Oregon is facing what could be a be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides, such as Roundup, to eradicate weed growth.

The mandate would bring to an end nearly 18 years of organic farming, placing a significant loss of organic food to the public.

Azure Farms is a certified organic farm located in Moro, Sherman County, Oregon. The farm produces almost all the organic wheat, field peas, barley, Einkorn, and beef for Azure Standard.

Sherman County could issue a court order on May 22, 2017 to quarantine Azure Farms and possibly to spray the entire farm with poisonous herbicides contaminating them with Milestone, Escort, and Roundup.

Such a unilateral action on the behalf of the few individuals representing county government could set a precedent in damaging perhaps one of the few remaining healthy alternatives to mass-market agribusinesses.

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