Feds Moving to Re-Classify Marijuana

DEA moving to reclassify marijuana – WKRN News 2

Excellent reporting by journalist Ellen Dennis in the The Spokesman Review discusses the U.S. government’s efforts to reclassifying marijuana as a less harmful drug.

The U.S. Attorney General circulated a proposal to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III drug. If finalized, this change in classification by the U.S. Department of Justice would federally recognize the medical use of cannabis. It would also ease banking regulations, thus making it far more manageable for pot shops to do business.

What Do the Drug Schedule Levels Mean?

Schedule I substances are defined by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Right now, marijuana is a Schedule I Drug. It lists alongside heroin, peyote, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone.

Schedule II drugs are defined by the government as dangerous drugs with a high potential for abuse. Examples of Schedule II drugs include fentanyl, oxycodone (Oxycontin), methamphetamine, Adderall and Ritalin. Schedule III substances are defined as drugs with a moderate-to-low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Examples of Schedule III drugs include ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.

What Would Rescheduling Do?

According to the article, rescheduling the drug would be a huge positive for people who work in the weed industry. It would open up federal funding, government loans and access to government emergency relief funds. Rescheduling would also help break down stigma surrounding cannabis.

That’s helped fuel fast growth in the marijuana industry, with an estimated worth of nearly $30 billion. Easing federal regulations could reduce the tax burden that can be 70% or more for businesses, according to industry groups. It could also make it easier to research marijuana, since it’s very difficult to conduct authorized clinical studies on Schedule I substances.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act is a proposed federal law that would ensure that all businesses – including state-sanctioned weed stores – have access to deposit accounts, insurance and other financial services.

Currently, Pot Shops in Washington by law may only take payments in cash form, leaving them vulnerable to armed robberies. Some store owners across the state have done their best to keep the environments safe for workers, including installing panic buttons behind the counters and ramping up security systems, but the best way to bolster safety would be to allow cannabis sellers to accept debit and credit card payments, industry players say.

It is possible that rescheduling could allow the cannabis industry to claim business deductions on federal tax forms, since the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t allow that for any business that sells a Schedule I controlled substance.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

WA Supreme Court Reverses Kitsap County DUI Case Decision Challenging Breathalyzers

Illustration of rewind button on courtroom by Barbara Kelley

Recently, the Washington State Supreme Court decided State v. Keller. The Court’s decision reversed a 2022 Kitsap County District Court decision that ruled breathalyzers inadmissible in court. This high-profile case is discussed in a prior blog post due to its potential to affect on hundreds of DUI cases in Washington State.

In 2022, the Kitsap County District Court ruled breathalyzers inadmissible in court after it said it found state regulations surrounding the machine used by the Washington State Patrol were not followed.

The decision was a result of a case where in 2020 a Washington state man crashed his vehicle and failed a breath alcohol test. The man challenged the admission of the results and argued state regulations had not been followed.

The breath test machine, the Dräger Alcotest 9510, was approved by the Washington State Patrol toxicologist in 2010 and has been in common use since 2015.

The Drager machine determines someone’s blood alcohol level by calculating the average of four samples. Under state law, the calculations are rounded to four decimal places, however, the machine truncates rather than rounds to four decimal points.

The court agreed with the man’s arguments that regulations had not been followed and excluded the test results. The court ruled that statutes and regulations require the breathalyzer machine to perform the calculations itself.

Furthermore, court documents said the toxicologist knew about the calculation error and didn’t disclose the information until 2021.

The Kitsap case bypassed the typical appellate process and went straight to the state Supreme Court because of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the case. The case could have had major implications for thousands of DUI cases due to law enforcement agencies statewide using the breathalyzer machine at the center of the case.

In the decision to hear the case, the Supreme Court Commissioner said, “This decision has the potential to affect a great number of Washington prosecutions for driving under the influence; this case involves significant public interest questions.”

THE COURT’S ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS

In its decision, the Supreme Court said current statutes and regulations don’t require the breathalyzer machine to calculate the average of the tests itself at the time of the test for it to be admissible in court. The Court said no source of law requires the calculation required by former WAC 448-16-060 to be performed by the breath test instrument. Also, the breath test results can be calculated in a different manner, as long as the different manners meet all other rules on admission of evidence in a criminal trial. Finally, the State can lay foundation for admitting the breath test by performing the required calculation at a later time.

With that, the Court reversed the district court’s evidentiary rulings and suppression order.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with DUI or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Prison Officers Traumatized by Rate of Executions in US Death Penalty States

Robert Dunham on X: "The Death Penalty in 2022—More than two-thirds of the  people executed in the U.S. in 2022 had significant mental illness, brain  damage or intellectual disabilities, and/or had experienced

Journalist Ed Pilkington of The Guardian reports that the pursuit of non-stop executions is causing psychological distress to corrections staff. Traumatized corrections officers are appealing for help.

THE DEATH PENALTY IN AMERICA

Capital punishment is generally on the wane in America. Only five states carried out executions last year. However, those states that remain active are showing a renewed determination. In some states, the pace of judicial killings is now so intense that prison guards are kept in an almost permanent state of readiness.

PRISON STAFF CONDUCTING EXECUTIONS

In 2007, two South Carolina COs who developed obsessive-compulsive behavior, nightmares, and other emotional disturbances filed civil lawsuits, claiming that their conditions resulted from performing executions. The COs alleged that they were coerced into carrying out executions and were not given any debriefing or counseling to help them deal with the emotional effects.

In Oklahoma, 25 executions happened in 2022. Officers at the state penitentiary are so stretched by the pace that state officials have sought a more staggered approach. They have requested that the gap between executions be widened from 60 to 90 days, so far to no avail.

Judicial killings were halted in the state for six years after the gruesome execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014. He writhed and groaned on the gurney for 43 minutes. Despite such concerns, calls for the brakes to be applied to Oklahoma’s breakneck execution schedule have so far failed. An appeals court judge responded to the request to extend the space between killings to 90 days by telling staff to “suck it up” and “man up”.

The comments have dismayed and angered current and former staff. Bobby Cleveland, executive director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, which advocates for prison staff, said that members were outraged. “They are really mad that a judge would make that kind of comment. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be a corrections officer.”

The chair of the criminal justice and corrections committee in the state assembly, Justin “JJ” Humphrey, was also scathing about Judge Gary Lumpkin’s remarks.

“To talk about executing somebody, and just ‘suck it up’ – that’s a pretty callous statement . . . Anybody that thinks that executing somebody is no problem has not been a part of the process.” ~Justin “JJ” Humphrey, Chair of the Oklahoma Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee

Staff and death row inmates often spend years in close proximity. More than half of all prisoners on death row have been there for more than 18 years, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Over time, a cold-blooded murderer can mature and change. That was the case with Brian Dorsey, 51, who was sentenced to death in Missouri for killing his cousin and her husband.

The article also quotes Missouri prison officials, more than 60 of whom sought clemency for prisoner Brian Dorsey. Governor Mike Parson rejected their pleas and allowed Mr. Dorsey to be executed on April 9, 2024.

Tim Lancaster, a retired corrections officer, said, “You’re working with a prisoner for 10 years, you’ve interacted with them every single day, and you can feel they’ve changed. They’ve really rehabilitated, and that’s the department’s goal – to rehabilitate offenders. … All of a sudden they flip the switch, and now it’s like: ‘OK, we’re going ahead and killing them. There has to be an underlying effect from that, without a doubt.”

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with Homicide, Manslaughter or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Washington State’s High-Capacity Magazine Ban Will Remain In Effect For Now

Ban on high-capacity gun magazines very popular with Washingtonians, NPI poll finds - NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Visualization of NPI’s poll finding on Senate Bill 5078

Last week, a state Supreme Court commissioner ordered that Washington state’s high-capacity magazine ban will remain in effect. This decision comes while a legal challenge against the new law remains pending in the courts.

Washington’s law banning high-capacity magazines has been the subject of several legal actions in recent weeks.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The high-capacity magazine ban was first overturned by a Cowlitz County Judge Gary Bashor. Earlier this month, he ruled the state’s ban on high-capacity magazines unconstitutional in a lawsuit between Washington State and Gators Customs Guns, a firearms dealer in Kelso.

Judge Bashor’s ruling imposed an injunction on the law for a short time. This meant the ban was effectively overturned in the state of Washington. Immediately after Judge Bashor’s ruling, firearms retailers around the state resumed the sale of high-capacity magazines.

Within 90 minutes, Supreme Court Commissioner Michael E. Johnston granted the Washington State Attorney General’s Office a temporary stay on that injunction. This ruling effectively put the high-capacity magazine ban back into effect. So far, the decision kept the stay in place. It will remain so while the legal challenges against the high-capacity magazine ban are being decided.

Commissioner Johnston ruled that those in opposition of the law “failed to persuasively show” that the ban should be overturned while the ultimate legality of the law is decided. The commissioner also considered the potential harms that could come from lifting the stay and allowing the magazines to be sold in the meantime.

WASHINGTON’S BAN ON HIGH-CAPACITY MAGAZINES

Washington’s ban on high-capacity magazines first went into effect on July 1, 2022. The ban prohibits the sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, along with the manufacturing, distribution or import of high-capacity magazines in Washington state.

The bill does not criminalize the possession of high-capacity magazines but instead focuses on the suppliers. Violating the law could result in a gross misdemeanor.

In September of 2023, the Washington AG’s office filed a lawsuit against Gator’s Custom Guns for continuing to sell high-capacity magazines. In response, the gun store owner challenged the law in court.

Other lawsuits have been filed regarding this legislation. In December 2022, Ferguson also filed a lawsuit against a gun store in Federal Way for selling high-capacity magazines after the ban went into effect months before. As a result, the store was ordered to pay $3 million for the illegal sale.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with Firearm Offenses or any other crimes. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Washington State Ranked Among Top 10 Most Dangerous

Washington named eighth most dangerous state in 2024 study - Lynnwood Times

SOURCEThe Safest and Most Dangerous States in America 2024 – Simmrin Law Group

Apparently, crime rates in Washington State have been increasing. This comes despite the overall decrease in violent crime in the country.

THE SIMMRIN LAW GROUP STUDY

A new study by the Simmrin Law Group analyzed crime data from the FBI and NIFRS to rank the safest and most dangerous states in the country.  Apparently, between 2020 and 2022, the rate of violent crime in the U.S. decreased from 398.5 incidents per 100,000 people to 380.7 incidents per 100,000 people, while the rate of violent crime in Washington has increased from 293.7 incidents to 375.6 incidents, an 81.9 rate increase. The study examined the frequency of various types of offenses, including assault, homicide, kidnapping, sex offenses, burglary, destruction/vandalism, theft, and robbery.

HOW DANGEROUS IS WASHINGTON STATE?

Although Washington is known for its picturesque natural beauty and for being a booming tech hub, the rise in crime hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Washington ranked eighth, with the highest larceny and theft rate and kidnapping and abduction rate. According to the study, the state has a larceny/theft rate of 2133.6 per 100,000 residents. In 2022, there were 1,327 kidnapping/abduction incidents and 1,454 offenses reported in Washington.

“Washington state, known for its tech industry and natural beauty, surprisingly contrasts with its efforts to become a safer place. The state sadly has a larceny/theft rate of 2133.6 per 100,000, among the highest on this list, indicating the need for continued focus on crime prevention.”

“Its Kidnapping/Abduction Rate of 16.3 per 100,000 indicates another area in much need of targeted interventions. These statistics underscore the importance of community-based safety programs and proactive law enforcement measures, which Washington cannot ignore any longer if they want to keep their good reputation.” ~Simrin Law Group Study

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

During COVID-19, Prison Inmates Died at 3.5 Times The Rate of the Free Population

COVID-19: Authorities must protect health of detainees, staff and ultimately surrounding communities

Photo courtesy of the International Committee of the Red Cross

According to the Marshall Project, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, people in prison died at 3.4 times the rate of the free population. The elderly were hit the hardest. A national study gives the details.

THE STUDY

Over 6,000 incarcerated people died in the first year of the pandemic, researchers found. This data numbers they collected from state prison systems and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. the overall prison mortality rate spiked at least 50%, and potentially exceeded 75%, with roughly 50 or more people dying per 10,000 in prison in 2020.

The virus hit older generations especially hard, the study’s data shows. Not all states shared counts by age. But in the eight states that did, death rates for people aged 50 and older rose far higher than for others. The data reaffirms how much more vulnerable older prisoners are to the virus.

At the same time, incarceration rates dropped during the first year of the pandemic, but not because an extraordinary number of people were released. Despite a range of advocates calling for releases — particularly for older adults, who have higher health risks and statistically lower chances of committing a crime — data shows fewer people than in a typical year were let out in 2020. Instead, there was a dramatic reduction in prison admissions.

The slowdown in admissions meant that prison systems reduced the number of younger people exposed to COVID, while the older people already inside were left there. That’s because incarcerated people are generally older than those likely to be sent to prison.

By the end of 2020, Bureau of Justice Statistics data shows the number of people in state prisons under 55 fell by 17%, while the 55 and older population was down by 6%.

Prison deaths spiked almost everywhere across the country, varying in magnitude from state to state.

WERE THE WIDESPREAD DEATHS IN PRISONS PREVENTABLE?

According to the Machall Project, states and the federal government have legal tools to release at least some people, but rarely used them during the most urgent phase of the pandemic. In most states, only the governor and parole board can release people from prison without a court order.

Most state constitutions allow for governors to issue a pause in a criminal sentence known as a reprieve. Historically, governors use this power even less often than commutations, which lets them shorten sentences and free people without post-release supervision or expectation that they return. No state governors used either power for large-scale releases during the COVID-19 emergency, and only a small number performed any at all.

In a minority of states, corrections officials have some limited authority to release prisoners — usually due to terminal illness, or total physical or cognitive disability — or to seek certain kinds of inpatient medical care, according to data collected by the sentencing reform advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums. These policies are not designed to release people based on risk of future illness, however.

“With more than half a million infections behind bars and over 3,000 deaths, America’s response to COVID-19 in prisons and jails was a failure. Federal, state, and local governments ignored public health guidance, refused to implement even the most basic mitigation strategies, and failed to reduce their incarcerated populations to the level necessary to avoid these catastrophes.” ~Prison Policy Initiative

Prison is a terrible place. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

U.S. Supreme Court Tackles Homelessness

Supreme Court will hear Grants Pass homeless camping case • Washington  State Standard

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide an important case in decades concerning the rights of people experiencing homelessness.

In Grants Pass v. Johnsonthe Court addresses whether it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment to fine, ticket, or jail someone for sleeping outside on public property if they have nowhere else to go. A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would make it easier for communities to clear out homeless people’s tent encampments, even if no available housing or shelter exists. The court is expected to decide the case by the end of June.

GRANTS PASS V. JOHNSON

The case comes from the rural Oregon town of Grants Pass, which started fining people $295 for sleeping outside to manage homeless encampments that sprung up in the city’s public parks as the cost of housing escalated.

The measure was largely struck down by the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit also found in 2018 that such bans violated the Eighth Amendment by punishing people for something they don’t have control over. The 9th Circuit oversees nine Western states, including California, which is home to about one-third of the nation’s homeless population.

FEDERAL DATA ON THE HOMELESS

The case comes after homelessness in the United States grew a dramatic 12%, to its highest reported level as soaring rents and a decline in coronavirus pandemic assistance combined to put housing out of reach for more Americans, according to federal data.

Over 650,000 people in America experience homelessness on any given night. Roughly 40 percent of those individuals are sleeping outside on the streets, in cars, parks, train stations, and other settings not designed primarily for human residence. Federal data published in late 2023 shows a rise in homelessness in most states.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF CRIMINALIZING HOMELESSNESS

  • The more interactions a homeless person has with the police, the more likely they are to be criminalized.
  • Concerns about criminalizing homeless people with mental and behavioral health needs came up in several amici briefs filed to the Supreme Court. More than one-fifth of people experiencing homelessness currently have a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
  • The American Psychiatric Association noted that police are also more likely to use excessive force when they interact with unhoused people with mental illness.
  • Fining, ticketing, or arresting unhoused people — which local governments will be more easily able to do if Grants Pass is overturned — will make it harder for homeless people, who already cannot afford shelter, to obtain permanent housing later on.
  • Having a criminal record can make it more difficult to land a job, stable housing, and receive government benefits. Even among those who do find jobs, employees with records generally face significant earning penalties.
  • Owing fines can exacerbate an unhoused person’s already precarious financial situation and prolong their homelessness. One study of people experiencing homelessness in Seattle found those with outstanding legal debt spent roughly two more years without stable housing than those without such debt.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

State Auditor’s Report: Police Agencies Can Be More Transparent About Returning Seized Assets

Among the nearly 1,000 people who had property seized by the Washington police agencies that were audited, only 25% were convicted of a crime.

Photo courtesy of the Seattle Times

According to the Seattle Times, a new state audit says that Washington police agencies could be more transparent about the process of seizing a defendant’s assets after arrest. Personal property like cars, cash or guns that are seized in the course of criminal investigations can often be returned, but are not.

CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE

Police, in a practice known as civil asset forfeiture, can seize items they believe were used in a crime without an arrest, criminal charge or conviction of the person who owns the property. State law lets police agencies keep 90% of the proceeds from forfeitures and to use the money to help disrupt illegal drug activity.

In Washington, police can seize property if they believe it is connected to a crime. If the police agency decides not to pursue forfeiture, they can then return the property to its owner. But if the agency decides to move forward, an initial notice goes to the owner (within 15 days), who can file a claim to get it back (within 45 days, or 90 days for real property like land or buildings).

THE STATE AUDITOR’S REPORT FINDINGS

The report reviewed eight police agencies, including the Seattle Police Department. Agencies were chosen based on location, the type of agency and level of civil asset forfeiture activity.

Among the audited agencies, 75% of seized property was automatically forfeited because the owner either did not file a claim, file a claim on time, or failed to attend a hearing. For many of the reviewed cases, it was because claims weren’t filed. Auditors also found that among the 1,000 people who were faced with forfeiture at those eight agencies, only 25% were convicted of a crime. Auditors also found that police often seized property worth less than $2,000.00. More disturbing, at least one racial or ethnic group was overrepresented in forfeiture data compared with their share of the population.

At the Seattle Police Department, for example, Latinos made up an estimated 23% of the people whose assets were forfeited, despite being 7% of the population, and Black people 17%, despite being 7% of the population. But at the Grays Harbor County Drug Task Force, white people were overrepresented by 9 percentage points.

The report also suggested police agencies can do more to make sure people know their property has been seized. Agencies can also better discuss the process of getting property returned, like providing information in languages other than English.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. In many cases, a defense attorney can argue a Motion for the Release of Personal Property which was confiscated by police. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

The Do’s and Dont’s of Drinking at Whatcom County Parks

 

BELLINGHAM CITY PARKS

In general, it’s illegal to drink in Bellingham parks. The city’s municipal code states that “the opening or consuming of any alcoholic beverage on park property is prohibited.” They’ll only make an exception if you have a license from the state and the “explicit written permission of the director of parks and recreation.”

There’s a 2014 city memo titled “Alcohol use at Park Facilities”, which aims to clarify those exceptions. According to the document, the exemptions primarily leave room for people to host an event at a city park where alcohol is present. In order to do that, you have to apply for permission, provide any relevant details about the event, submit a damage deposit and provide proof of liquor liability insurance. Even if you get approved, only beer and wine are allowed.

WHATCOM COUNTY PARKS

Unlike the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County parks are slightly more lenient. While they don’t allow alcohol in open spaces, they allow drinking in reservable areas. These areas include picnic shelters and day lodges. If you plan to drink, however, you must pay an additional $60 fee with your reservation.

WA STATE PARKS

Journalist  your safest and most legal alternative to legally drink in a Whatcom County park would be state park. While drinking is generally off limits in these locations, too, state parks do allow alcohol at campsites, picnic tables, benches or reservable day-use areas. Whatcom County has three state parksLarrabeeBirch Bay and Peace Arch.

My advice? People who drink too much often commit crimes they would not consider doing while sober. Crimes like Assault, Malicious Mischief, Criminal Trespass and Domestic Violence are more likely to occur any time alcohol is involved. In some cases, Voluntary Intoxication is a defense.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Prison Inmates Get To View The Eclipse

Prisoners demand to watch the solar eclipse

Photo courtesy of Gencraft AI

USA Today reports that inmates at a New York prison sued the state corrections department over the Monday total solar eclipse. Fortunately, the inmates will be able to see the celestial event after all.

The lawsuit came after one of the named plaintiffs, an atheist, received special permission last month to view the eclipse before the statewide prison lockdown was announced. However, prison officials ultimately denied permission to other inmates to be exempt from the lockdown order. Shortly after, the lawsuit was filed in federal court in upstate New York. It listed six plaintiffs of various religious faiths and claimed that the lockdown violated their religious rights.

“These inmates are asking for the most human of things: To gather and celebrate something that is greater than themselves. For many, this eclipse is a moment of monumental religious significance that cannot be overlooked or dismissed out of hand.” ~Court Documents Filed in Lawsuit

Corrections officials agreed Thursday to permit the plaintiffs – a Baptist, a Muslim, a Seventh-Day Adventist, two practitioners of Santeria and an atheist – to view the eclipse in exchange for the lawsuit’s dismissal.

“We are pleased that, in response to our lawsuit alleging religious discrimination, New York State has entered into a binding settlement agreement that will allow our six clients to view the solar eclipse in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs.” ~Attorney Christopher L. McArdle, one of the attorneys representing the inmates.

New York, which has not experienced a total solar eclipse since 1925, is one of 13 states directly on the eclipse’s path of totality. The astral event has been widely anticipated for months, if not years. As a result, it is expected to draw a heavy influx of tourists as the moon completely blocks the sun’s disc. The rare celestial phenomenon will reveal the sun’s elusive outermost layer known as the corona.

PLAINTIFFS SAY ECLIPSE HAS RELIGIOUS MEANINGS

All plaintiffs claimed in the lawsuit that the solar eclipse was deeply intertwined with the teachings of their respective religions.

In Christianity, the darkness described in the Bible as accompanying Jesus’ crucifixion has been interpreted as an eclipse, while in Islam, sacred works similarly describe the passing of the Prophet Muhammad’s son. Practitioners of Santeria also trace historical ties to chanting rituals performed during a solar eclipse. For atheists, an eclipse may not be a time for worship, but it’s still a time to marvel about the natural wonders of the universe, the lawsuit contended.

My opinion? Great work by the Plaintiffs’ attorneys. And wonderful decision on the part of NY Corrections Department. Religious liberty is a foundational principle of enduring importance in America, enshrined in our Constitution and other sources of federal law.  Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place. It also encompasses religious observance and practice. Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law. Therefore, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including the incarceration of prisoners.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.