Tag: Washington State

Ninth Circuit Rules State Must Protect Salmon Runs In Addition To Tribal Fishing Rights

salmon-pnw-artBy Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled June 27th that in addition to recognizing tribal fishing rights, pursuant to the Stevens Treaties entered in the middle 1850s between Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest and the Washington Territorial Governor, the government is mandated to protect the viability of sustainable fishing to preserve the allocation to local tribes.

In signing these treaties, the tribes relinquished “swaths of land, watersheds, and offshore waters adjacent to these areas…in what is now the State of Washington. In exchange, the Tribes were guaranteed a right to engage in off-reservation fishing.”

The panel held that in building and maintaining barrier culverts within Washington, the state violated, and continues to violate, its obligation to the Tribes under the treaties.

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Judge Rules Public Hospitals Must Offer Abortion Services If They Offer Maternity Services

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

skagit-regional-health-logoRuling on statutory grounds, Skagit County, Washington Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis held that a public hospital offering maternity services to women must also offer abortion services. Referring patients to Planned Parenthood, the court ruled, violates state law regarding abortion services provided to patients. The suit was brought on behalf of a plaintiff patient by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The fundamental conflict in the case litigated was ostensibly due to the defendant hospital district’s position that while agreeing to offer such services, it experienced difficulty in complying due to lack of health professionals willing to perform abortions. State law does allow heath care professionals to decline to perform voluntary abortions for personal reasons.

For other public hospital districts, the ACLU served notice requesting similar compliance with state law.

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WA Supreme Court Rules Jail Booking Questioning For Gang Affiliation Not Voluntary Due To Coercive Nature

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.

norteno-graffitiThere was an interesting case last month before the Washington Supreme Court where the court was asked to determine the admissibility of evidence obtained during the defendants’ booking process related to criminal street gang affiliation.

Defendants in the case, Ricardo Juarez Deleon, Anthony Deleon, and Octavio Robledo moved to suppress evidence gathered by the state obtained through questions relating to the alleged involvement in gang activity while in the furtherance of a crime, a sentencing enhancement and a status in of itself that can be in violation of law or subject a defendant to revocation of probation and other court imposed restrictions.

A legitimate state purpose exists in asking arrestees if they are gang-affiliated or have hostility toward other inmates for the purpose of order and the safety of staff and the inmate population. It is well known that members of rival gangs housed together lead to a probability of fighting and disruption. A question remains if an arrestee should a choice between answering that they are gang-affiliated to secure a protection through separate housing and remaining silent and face retaliation from other inmates. The petitioners argue this constitutes duress where they are unlawfully required to make incriminating statements to protect their safety.

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Interview Of Applicant For Wildlife Officer Position Leads To Vehicular Homicide Charge

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

muckleshoot-tribe-logo-bwSamuel Hoffer did not exactly get the position he was hoping for when he applied to be a Wildlife Enforcement Officer with the Muckleshoot Tribe. He is now facing charges for alleged Vehicular Homicide after a background interview was reportedly highlighted by his admission to a deadly drunk driving incident occurring in 2012.

This is the latest in a series of articles, HERE, and HERE, where applicants make career and freedom limiting moves by applying for law enforcement jobs and are subsequently jailed for providing incriminating evidence.

We now have another case of déjà vu all over again.
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WA Florist Who Refused To Provide Flowers For Gay Wedding Files Brief With WA Supreme Court

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

In April 2013 our host published an article featuring Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson had sued Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts after she had refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding.

Washington’s consumer protection act bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation AG Ferguson sought a $2000 penalty for each violation and to end the business’ allegedly discriminatory practices. The case garnered considerable attention in both the state and nationally in which the religious rights of business owners do not necessarily comport in some cases with antidiscrimination statutes which require equal services be provided for all customers.

After the defendant received an unfavorable ruling at the Superior Court level, her case advanced through the appellate system and now is before the state Supreme Court.
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Assistant School Principal Accused of Sexual Exploitation Of A Minor

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Nate Piturachsatit
Nate Piturachsatit

Law Enforcement Officers in Coulee Dam, Washington arrested thirty-seven year old Assistant-Principal Nate Piturachsatit on two counts of possession of child pornography, three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

The case stems from an investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Mr. Piturachsatit is accused of soliciting and sending sexually explicit pictures to of 14-year-old girl residing in Wisconsin. Court documents allege that Mr. Piturachsatit conveyed these images via Instagram using his cell phone. Fortunately, no other minors are presently suspected as being victims.
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WA Department Of Social And Health Services Served With $27,000,000.00 Tort Claim For Fiendish Child Neglect Case

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

WA DSHS LOGOIt was nearly two years ago that I featured strong showing of just how uncaring and incompetent DSHS/CPS in Washington can aspire to with a terrible case of child abuse mentioned HERE.

In my previous article I wrote how in March of 2013 the children’s parents Sandra and Jeff Weller of Vancouver were each sentenced to twenty years in prison after having been convicted of fourteen counts of child abuse; double the statutory determinate maximum sentence. Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson levied the exceptional sentence due to the severity of the crimes.

The claim against the state on behalf of five children alleges nearly ten years of abuse of the children by the parents where little to no action was taken by Child Protective Services to address the issues and protect the children from further crimes by the parents.

Now we have another example of the incompetence, indifference and permissible atmosphere the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, allowed for what reportedly amounted to a fiendish and unconscionable maltreatment of a blind, developmentally disabled child afflicted with cerebral palsy. This person suffered torturous neglect over another ten year period–despite ample amount of complaints and reports that should have directed the agency to find another foster home for the child.

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WA State Department Of Labor And Industries To Remove Art By Convicted Cop Killer Leonard Peltier

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

wa-labor-n-industries-logoLast week I featured an article describing how the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries engaged in promoting and displaying the artwork of imprisoned capital murderer Leonard Peltier at its headquarters. The article and enquiries I made to various law enforcement officials and the former FBI Agent’s Association generated a considerable backlash against the agency for its actions.

On Friday I met with KING-5 News reporter Drew Mikkelson and Former FBI Agent Ray Lauer representing the Seattle Chapter of the Retired FBI Agent’s Association at the behest of its national headquarters, for interviews on this controversy. The story was featured on the medium’s 6:30 broadcast.

Leonard Peltier was convicted of two counts of murder in the deaths of FBI Agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams, both twenty-eight years old at the time. On the fortieth anniversary year of the deaths, Labor and Industries hosted the artwork of Leonard Peltier which sparked outrage among former FBI agents, the law enforcement community, and family members of the deceased agents.

In an interview, L&I’s spokesman Tim Church explained that his agency did not intend to further Peltier’s cause by displaying his art, yet his agency did just that by its promotion. The Washington agency further claimed that his paintings were part of the Native American contribution to the art during a Native American Heritage Month celebration.  The agency was displaying a selection of other works, however displayed Mr. Peltier’s art more prominently in the main rotunda of the headquarters next to the main entrance. Moreover the government provided flyers and cards attached to the paintings directing the viewer on how to contact the gallery. Though I saw and photographed these promotional materials during my first visit to the headquarters, the department removed these prior to our arrival for the interviews.

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Three Individuals Growing Medical Marijuana In WA State Convicted And Sent To Prison

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Entreating the Godfather

Nearly a year and a half ago we featured a story describing the plight of the “Kettle Falls Five” who were arrested by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency on charges relating to marijuana cultivation and firearms violations.  I am reprinting here portions of my previous article which has many details of the original case. Now, three of these defendants were sentenced to federal prison.

The confusion as to what constitutes lawful medical marijuana grows with federal deference and ten year punishments for doing so, the United States Department of Justice prosecuted five rural Eastern Washington residents accused of growing seventy-four medical marijuana plants in a private collective. Washington State is a Medical Marijuana State. The accused include a seventy year old man who states he uses the medicine to treat pain from a job related injury, his wife for her arthritis, and their son.  The patriarch of the family, the accused Larry Harvey, had the charges dropped but has since died of cancer.

While state law at the time permitted the cultivation of up to forty-five plants, federal law prohibits any cultivation.  Originally confusion of the numbers of plants that might be permissible under state law (in aggregate) should take into consideration that multiple individuals had separate grows and this led to a misunderstanding.  While the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office told the accused to remove those plants in excess of the amounts allowed, the DEA later arrived and raided their farms.

What compounds the severity for these five individuals is that within the thirty-three acre property, two of the defendants’ residence had inside several firearms, including rifles which are used by the family to hunt and for protection from wild animals. Firearms are very common in residences in rural Eastern Washington. Yet, the firearms in relation to the marijuana grow add an additional five year minimum sentence, adding to the defendants’ minimum of ten years imprisonment, something the senior defendant claimed to be a “death sentence.”

What is rather extraordinary in this effort by the department of justice, despite guidelines in not allocating resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients, the defendants claim it was a misunderstanding of Washington’s medical marijuana laws that caused them to go from legal users to being potentially imprisoned for ten years.  Many viewed this case as necessitating jury nullification.

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WA Department Of Licensing Bundles Handicapped Parking Placard Requests With Red Tape, Then Breaks State Law

wa-compliant-handicapped-parking-signBy Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

The archetype of bureaucracy is often associated with the Departments of Licensing / Departments of Motor Vehicles in various states. Washington’s contribution for this year manifested in the issuance of handicapped parking placards–the cards that hang from mirrors. It most certainly adds insult to citizens’ injuries who need the placards due to restricted mobility when the Washington Department of Licensing changed rules to supposedly address alleged fraud (which I personally have a difficult time accepting is rampant).  But the DOL in doing so created a system that is easily circumvented and worse added another layer of delay for legitimate users by failing to announce changes to forms and procedures; thus requiring untold number of citizens to schedule new appointments with their doctors due to the agency’s bureaucratic rigidity and nonsensical new procedures.

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911 Called Over Stuffed Toy Tiger

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

tiger-yawningIn another bizarre example of what people will call 911 over, Camas Washington Police responded to an “animal problem” call of an SUV driving around with a tiger atop its roof. For reference purposes, tigers are not native to Western Washington.

Surely to the surprise of the caller and other tiger/bigfoot chasers of Washington the tiger was actually a stuffed toy.

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Color Of Variable Speed Limit Signs Could Jeopardize Criminal Cases Resulting From Speeding Offense Probable Cause

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

variable-speed-yellow-black-largeCriminal Cases resulting from speeding offense probable cause may be in jeopardy due to improper colors used variable speed limit signs. If courts determine that these signs violate statutory signage standards, exclusionary rules may apply resulting in dismissals of numerous criminal cases.

An example of this is found on Interstate 90 straddling Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State. Over a decade ago, the Washington State Department of Transportation installed Highway Advisory Beacons, near the mountain pass to warn driver of upcoming hazards along with incorporation into the state’s variable speed limit statute. An example of these types of signs is pictured above.

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Should Marijuana Laws Be Enforced By The Department Of Revenue And Not Traditional Law Enforcement?

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Marijuana LeafPrior to marijuana legalization in Washington, enforcement of state marijuana laws were, as with the various other states, primarily enforced by city police, county sheriff’s departments, and the state patrol.

Now the driving force behind state efforts has mostly shifted to the Washington State Liquor Control Board and the Washington Department of Revenue for licensing and revenue collection for state licensed producers, processors, and retailers. The medical marijuana aspect is currently unregulated by the state. There does remain, however, the illicit trade which still provides contraband marijuana and remains the largest supplier of the substance.

Yet when we look at other regulated substances such as alcohol and tobacco, local law enforcement officers rarely intervene in the illegal trade. The primary agency responsible for enforcement of these substances’ statutes is that of the Liquor Control Board.

Should enforcement of the marijuana laws be deferred by traditional law enforcement as well?

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Court Rules Against Washington State Florist Who Refused To Make Wedding Flower Arrangement For Gay Couple

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Baronelle Stutzman
Baronelle Stutzman

We previously wrote HERE of Richland, Washington Florist Baronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, who caused a row when she refused to provide her floral services for a gay wedding. Now, a Benton County Superior Court Judge ruled that she violated the state’s consumer protection act that bars discrimination against a protected class.

The legal action was brought by customer Robert Ingersoll and the Washington Attorney General’s Office.

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Wenatchee, Washington City Council To Reconsider Prohibition of Marijuana Retailers After Lawsuit Filed

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Marijuana LeafCity of Wenatchee LogoWe reported last week of the City of Wenatchee prohibiting state licensed marijuana retailers and as a result a future retailer filed a civil suit against the city in Superior Court. It appears now the city council is trying to reverse its earlier position.

On Thursday of this week, the council held a public meeting after an executive council possibly discussing legal issues the city might face. During the public portion a majority of council members voted to direct the city attorney to draft an amendment to the ordinance that would omit a clause in the business licensing ordinance requiring businesses be compliant with federal law to be permitted to operate in the city.

One can probably surmise what instigated the city to have a change of heart, but the American Civil Liberties Union stated recently they would join the plaintiff’s case and were prepared to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme court.

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