Tag Archives: Mt. Vernon Criminal Defense


Needle spiking: Everything we know after women targeted in nightclubs |  Metro News

According to an article in the New York Times by reporters Megan Specia and , Britain has witnessed a disturbing spate of violence against women.

Apparently, women are being injected with drug-filled syringes at crowded pubs and nightclubs.  This is a variation of “spiking,” in which drugs are dropped into someone’s drink, a crime that often targets women. This phenomenon, called “needle spiking,” includes 12 incidents in Nottinghamshire. Police in Scotland are looking into similar reports.

Some who reported being spiked had effects “consistent with a substance being administered,” the police said in a statement.

According to the article, female students have made the majority of reports. However, some young men say they also have been victimized. The Nottinghamshire police say no other offenses, including sexual assault, have been linked to the reports of being injected. Also, there have been no known arrests for injecting someone. Regardless, authorities say they are stepping up patrols and working with local universities and hospitals to investigate.

But as these stories — and the fears surrounding them — have spread, young women have called for a boycott of clubs and also launched a petition calling for clubs to be required to search people on entering. To many women, the idea that they could be victimized by someone wielding a syringe at a nightclub is horrifying.

In England, concerns about drinks being covertly laced with drugs have long been an issue. A 2019 BBC investigation revealed more than 2,600 cases of drink spiking in England and Wales since 2015.

In Washington State, spiking someone else’s drink with drugs is illegal. It’s considered such a serious crime that it’s categorized as a Class B felony. In a 2016 study, researchers found that nearly 8% of 6,064 university students surveyed said their drinks had been spiked. Also, 1.4% said they’ve been the one spiking drinks or knew someone who did so.

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.

WA State Patrol Employees Lose Jobs For Refusing to Vaccinate

Unvaccinated Cops Should Be Fired; Use Their Salaries on Public Health

Today’s press release from the WA State Patrol reports that 127 people employed by WSP were separated from employment for refusing to get COVID-19 vaccines.

Those leaving include 67 troopers, six sergeants, one captain and 53 civil servants, according to the announcement.

The departures from the State Patrol are spread across the state. Over the next few days, leaders plan to gauge the impact of the departures and move resources where necessary. The State Patrol plans to make similar adjustments for departures from its civilian jobs and is looking to fill vacancies “as soon as possible.”

Longer term, the WSP will continue recruiting and plans to fill three classes of police academy cadets in the coming months.

WSP Chief John R Batiste said the State Patrol will do its best to keep staff from becoming overburdened from the departures. “We have the responsibilities of the agency to carry forward and I am not going to ask you to do more with less,” said Batiste in the press release.

About two weeks ago, WSP said 93 percent of its 2,200 employees had been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Seattle Times. Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said last week that across Washington, more than 90 percent of state workers had been vaccinated. Inslee announced in August that state employees, health care employees and school workers must be vaccinated or provide proof of medical or religious exemption by Oct. 18. According to the Associated Press, the mandate is believed to be among the strictest in the nation and covers more than 800,000 workers.

In other related news, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that police officers should get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and others.

Police unions across the country have urged members to resist vaccine requirements for their jobs. But Fauci said police officers should view vaccination as a key part of their job:

“Think about the implications of not getting vaccinated when you’re in a position where you have a responsible job, and you want to protect yourself because you’re needed at your job, whether you’re a police officer or a pilot or any other of those kinds of occupations.” Dr. Anthony Fauci,  Fox News Sunday.

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.

Jail: A Good Place to Die

Wrongful Deaths in Prison

 A new report by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics finds more than 200 people have died by suicide in Washington and Oregon jails since 2000. This puts the Northwest states above the national average for jail suicides, according to

From 2000 to 2019, the average rate of suicide in jails nationally was 43 per 100,000 inmates. By contrast, Oregon’s jail suicide rate during that same time period was 48 per 100,000. In Washington it was 57 per 100,000.

In Oregon, the study found, the jail suicide rate leapt up to 70 per 100,000 from 2015 to 2019. Washington logged its highest rate, 79 per 100,000, during the 2010 to 2014 timeframe.

Among Western states, Arizona and California reported the lowest rates of jail suicides during the same time period.

Nationally, suicide accounted for 24 percent to 35 percent of deaths in local jails between 2001 and 2019, the report said. In 2019, nearly 30 percent of U.S. jail deaths were due to suicide. The peak came in 2015 when the suicide rate in U.S. jails reached 52 per 100,000 inmates. But overall, the national rate of suicide in jails was mostly unchanged in 2019 as compared to 2000.

Here are some other findings:

  • Nationwide, white inmates were five times more likely to die by suicide in jail than Black inmates, and 3.5 times more likely than Hispanic inmates.
  • Most jail suicides happened within the first 30 days of a person being behind bars.
  • Hanging or strangulation was the most common manner of death.
  • Nearly 77 percent of the people who died by suicide in U.S. jails had not been convicted. Jails are the entry point to the criminal justice system and often hold individuals who are awaiting trial.

The quality of health care in jails can also vary greatly despite the fact jails house some of the most complex and vulnerable people in society, including those with acute mental health and substance use disorders.

In Oregon, jails must adhere to a set of statewide standards and are subject to outside inspection. By contrast, Washington jails are required to develop their own standards to ensure the health, welfare and safety of inmates.

This year, Washington enacted a law that requires jail officials to conduct a fatality review anytime a person in custody dies unexpectedly. Those reviews must be completed within 120 days and be posted to a public website maintained by the state Department of Health.

My opinion? Jail is a dangerous place. Please read my Legal Guides titled, Quash Your Bench Warrant and Making Bail and  contact my office if your friends or family are jailed. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Ban Invasive Policing Technology

On November 2, 2021, Bellingham voters have an opportunity to vote on important initiatives affecting people’s liberty and freedom. Initiative No. 2021-02 concerns the use of facial recognition technology and predictive policing technology.

Face surveillance is the most dangerous of the many new technologies available to law enforcement. This measure would prohibit the City from the following:

  • Acquire or use facial recognition technology.
  • Prohibit the City from contracting with a third party to use facial recognition technology on its behalf.
  • Prohibit the use of predictive policing technology.
  • Prohibit the retention of unlawfully acquired data.
  • Prohibit the use of data, information, or evidence derived from the use of facial recognition technology or predictive policing technology in any legal proceeding.
  • Authorize private civil enforcement actions.

facial recognition system is a technology capable of matching a human face from a digital image or a video frame against a database of faces, typically employed to authenticate users through ID verification services, works by pinpointing and measuring facial features from a given image.

Facial recognition systems are employed throughout the world today by governments and private companies. Their effectiveness varies, and some systems have previously been scrapped because of their ineffectiveness. The use of facial recognition systems has also raised controversy, with claims that the systems violate citizens’ privacy, commonly make incorrect identifications, encourage gender norms and racial profiling, and do not protect important biometric data. These claims have led to the ban of facial recognition systems in several cities in the United States.

According to the ACLU, facial recognition systems are built on computer programs that analyze images of human faces for the purpose of identifying them. Unlike many other biometric systems, facial recognition can be used for general surveillance in combination with public video cameras, And it can be used in a passive way that doesn’t require the knowledge, consent, or participation of the subject.

The biggest danger is that this technology will be used for general, suspicionless surveillance systems. State motor vehicles agencies possess high-quality photographs of most citizens that are a natural source for face recognition programs and could easily be combined with public surveillance or other cameras in the construction of a comprehensive system of identification and tracking.

My opinion? Vote YES on Initiative 2021-02.

The technology itself can be racially biased. Groundbreaking research conducted by scholars Joy Buolamwini, Deb Raji, and Timnit Gebru snapped our collective attention to the fact that yes, algorithms can be racist. Buolamwini and Gebru’s 2018 research concluded that some facial analysis algorithms misclassified Black women nearly 35 percent of the time, while nearly always getting it right for white men. A subsequent study by Buolamwini and Raji at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology confirmed these problems persisted with Amazon’s software.

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

Police Dying of COVID-19

Vaccinate the Police - The Atlantic

Excellent article by Colin McEwen of the Daily says that of the 264 police officers who died in the line of duty in 2020 across the United States, more than half died of COVID-19. These findings come on the heels of new data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (PDF) (NLEOMF).

Mark Singer, the Leonard W. Mayo Professor in Family and Child Welfare at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, also discussed some possible solutions during his recent lecture in Cleveland.

“COVID-19 is absolutely devastating police departments around the country,” said Singer, also deputy director of the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at the Mandel School. “I’m certain there are local departments that have been ravaged by this disease, as well as our hospitals’ staff, firemen and EMS. We need to do everything we can to promote healthy, safe first responders.”

The data does not include how many police officers were forced to miss work days because of COVID-19. However, the NLEOMF report noted that 145 police officers nationally died from complications related to the novel coronavirus. The organization verifies each reported death, according to its website.

According to the data, COVID-19-related fatalities were the single highest cause of officer line-of-duty deaths in 2020. The data—which includes federal, state, military, tribal and local law enforcement officers—highlighted an increase in fatalities by 96% from the 135 officers killed during the same 12-month period in 2019.

Singer noted that, in typical years, the causes of death for police officers are varied, ranging from automobile crashes and heart attacks to gun violence and other physical violence. He said there are several key factors why COVID-19 is the current leading cause of police officer deaths.

According to the article, Singer also suggested police officers should be moved to the front of the line for vaccinations.

“These first responders have to deal with this extra worry, in what’s already a tension-filled job,” said Singer, who was recognized for his role with the Partnership for a Safer Cleveland in 2018 at the grand opening of the Five Communities exhibit at the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, D.C.

He also touted the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020 as a success, which guarantees law enforcement officers and their survivors federal benefits if an officer is killed or disabled by COVID-19.

“I think it’s important to recognize some of the unique dangers that police officers are facing,” Singer said . . . They want to come home from work from a dangerous job and be safe.” ~Jack Singer, Professor in Family and Child Welfare.

My opinion? I agree with Singer that police officers should be moved to the front of the line for vaccinations. Unfortunately, other news reports indicate their vaccination rates are lower than or about the same as those of the general public. The reluctance of police to get vaccinated threatens not just their own health, but also the safety of people they’re responsible for guarding, monitoring and patrolling, experts say.

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.

Courts Are Clogged

Courts struggling with massive backlog because of pandemic

Excellent article by Denver Pratt of the Bellingham Herald describes how Whatcom County will use federal relief funds to aid courts in the growing backlog of cases that have transpired since the Coronavirus Pandemic.

According to Pratt, Whatcom County approved spending nearly $600,000 of federal relief funds to address the backlog of cases burdening the Whatcom County court system. The Whatcom County Council approved $598,319 for the county’s criminal justice and court system from the American Rescue Plan Act, the nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief measure that U.S. President Joe Biden signed in March.

Whatcom County will see roughly $44.5 million from the coronavirus pandemic relief measure. The funds are able to be used for three years. The money was part of a $1.6 million budget amendment  that the Whatcom County Council passed.

Apparently, Whatcom County’s court system is facing a  growing backlog of unresolved court cases stalled by the Coronavirus Pandemic. The money approved by the county council is an attempt to address those issues.

According to Pratt, the $598,319 will get distributed as follows:

▪ Whatcom County Clerk’s Office will receive $18,611 for a specialty court clerk.

▪ Whatcom County District Court will receive $88,178 for a clerk and a receptionist.

▪ The Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will receive $99,419 for two attorneys, one victim-witness coordinator and one legal assistant.

▪ The Whatcom County Public Defender’s Office will receive $262,506 for four attorneys, two investigators, one behavioral health specialist and two legal assistants.

▪ Whatcom County Superior Court will receive $129,605 for a court commissioner and a judicial assistant.

Due to an overload of cases, the Whatcom Public Defender’s Office has had to return cases to the county’s Office of Assigned Counsel for the first time. From January 2020 through July of this year, the public defender’s office sent back 609 felony cases and 115 District Court cases. That’s a marked increase from years prior, where in 2018, 34 cases total were returned, and 2019, 118 cases total were returned, the data shows.

Pratt also reports that the county also has 11 attorneys on contract to provide outside indigent defense, which includes lawyers from outside Whatcom County for the first time, The Herald previously reported. The return of cases of the Office of Assigned Counsel has led to the county’s budget for contracted indigent defense being almost used up as of mid-August.

My opinion? The Public Defender’s Office has skilled, hardworking attorneys. And obviously, they’re an extremely busy office. Criminal charges are nothing to contend with or take lightly. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. It’s important to hire an effective and competent defense attorney with the time and capacity to work your case.

“At The End Of The Day, It’s Race.”

U.S. Racism and Inequality Are Rooted in the Law

The Washington Courts website presented its findings on unequal treatment in the criminal justice system.

According to data collected by the Task Force 2.0: Race and Washington’s Criminal Justice System, bias and the legacy of historically racist laws and practices contribute significantly to racially disproportionate treatment and outcomes in Washington’s criminal justice system.

From more frequent police stops, searches, use of force, arrests, longer sentences, fewer non-prison sentencing alternatives, higher or more frequent fines, and higher rates of deaths at the hands of police, people of color are treated more harshly than White people from the first contact with the justice system.

The Task Force presented their findings to the WA Supreme Court over Zoom on Wednesday, Sept. 29, and released their report to the public. The presentation was broadcast live on TVW and recorded for future viewing.

In addition to gathering data from the many points of contact throughout the justice system, Task Force researchers worked to identify reasons for disparities, often comparing “similarly situated” persons (those with similar crimes and criminal histories) and documenting differential treatment.

“At the end of the day, it’s race. At the end of the day, we see that disproportionalities persist in the criminal justice system.” ~Seattle University School of Law Professor Robert Chang

The Task Force report examines data on policing, prosecutorial decision-making, pre-trial release, sentences, incarceration, Legal Financial Obligations (court fines and fees), driver license suspensions, community supervision and reentry from incarceration, and more. The study also addresses the extensive impacts of contact with the criminal justice system on people’s mental and physical health, families, future employment, housing, and more.

Examples of Task Force findings include:

  • From 2013 to 2020 in Washington state, 253 people were killed by police. Based on each group’s relative population, Black people were killed at a rate 3.6 times greater than that of non-Hispanic White people; Indigenous people were killed at a rate 3.3 times greater; Latinos were killed at a rate 1.3 times greater; and Pacific Islanders were killed at a rate 3.3 times greater.
  • Data from four major Washington cities found that Black persons were 3.9 times to 10.6 times more likely to be subjected to use of force by police than White persons.
  • In fiscal year 2019 felony sentencing for non-drug offenses, Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) received significantly longer sentences than White defendants for the two most serious offense levels, and the disproportionality was pronounced for BIPOC defendants with lower criminal history scores.
  • Black persons, Indigenous persons, and Latina/os are sentenced to court fines and fees (Legal Financial Obligations, or ‘’LFOs’’) more frequently and at higher rates than White and Asian persons. Even after controlling for relevant legal factors, Latina/os are sentenced to significantly higher LFOs than similarly situated White defendants.

The Task Force was launched in mid-2020 by the deans of Washington’s three law schools following the death of George Floyd.

The Task Force will release recommendations for action by the end of the year, along with another report from a “task force within a task force” examining the state’s juvenile justice system. Speakers during the presentation pointed to the need for greater transparency and information sharing in all areas of the justice system, the need to examine the role and impacts of incarceration itself, the need for leaders from all branches and levels of government to be involved, and the need to acknowledge that even with neutral laws and policies, implicit bias influences the unequal application of those laws throughout the criminal justice system.

“We need to be intentional . . . Seven decades I’ve been dealing with this. And if we don’t make space for these hard conversations, 70 years from now we’ll be in the same place.” ~Retired King County Superior Court Judge J. Wesley Saint Clair

Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven González, who was involved in the 2010 task force before he joined the Supreme Court, closed the presentation by thanking the presenters and the members of the task force for their ongoing work:

“We regret that this work is still needed, but we recognize that it is.” ~WA Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven González

More background on the work of Task Force 2.0 can be found here.

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


Washington Department of Corrections Ends Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement: Punishment Or Cruelty? : NPR

People incarcerated at Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities will no longer be subjected to disciplinary segregation — being put in solitary confinement as a punishment — after state officials determined it is not effective.

Individuals in solitary confinement are locked in a cell for 22–24 hours per day with no social contact. The effects of solitary confinement on the human mind and body range from anxiety, depression, and heart palpitations to deteriorating eyesight, paranoia, and psychosis. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that approximately 25% of people in prison and 35% of those in jail who had spent 30 days or longer in solitary confinement during the previous year had symptoms of serious psychological distress. The rates were similar for those who only spent 1 day in isolation.

“This is indeed a historic moment in the department,” said DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange. “This is definitely a key step in becoming a human-centered organization by advancing proven correctional practices and methods that support individuals in change.

“The science is clear on this, and the science says stop doing it,” Strange said, adding that the practice has not been effective at deterring negative behavior.

The DOC refers to the practice as “disciplinary segregation,” and says the term “solitary confinement” is archaic and does not reflect the fact that incarcerated individuals receive programming and other benefits.

The agency made the change after collecting data on the practice of isolating incarcerated people for punishment. It found that of the 2,500 incidents where people were subjected to disciplinary segregation from Sept. 1, 2019 through Aug. 31, 2020, the majority — 57% — were disciplined for nonviolent infractions.

People who received disciplinary segregation on average spent from 11 days to 16 days in isolation. Many had already been subjected to administrative segregation, which involves isolating a person for the safety of themselves or others, while their disciplinary hearing was pending. Since most received credit for that time served in administrative segregation — which will remain in effect — the actual time spent in disciplinary segregation was relatively short, the DOC said.

Gov. Jay Inslee said the DOC’s decision “is the right thing to do.”

My opinion? Good decision. Perhaps the most disturbing consequence of solitary confinement is its skyrocketing effect on rates of self-harm and suicide among incarcerated individuals: Though only 3–8% of the incarcerated population in the United States is in solitary confinement, they represent 50% of prison suicides.

Prison should be avoided. 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.

Language App Helps Police

LanguageLine Solutions(R) Launches Live Interpreting App

Tacoma police officers are now using a language translation tool to assist during emergency responses. Q13 Fox News reports that all officers have access to Language Line Solutions, a translator app on their phones.

In the past, officers used neighbors or even family members, like kids, to translate.

Lydia Zepeda, who is a member of the Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, worked with the Tacoma Police Department to introduce a better way for officers to help people in crisis.

“A lot of these people are experiencing domestic violence, they may have been sexually assaulted, or they may be some other victim of a crime and we certainly don’t want children to have to interpret for something like this.” ~Lydia Zepeda, Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

“Language Line Solutions allows the Tacoma Police Department to offer equitable services to all members of the community,” said officer Wendy Haddow with the Tacoma Police Department.

The app offers translators for 240 different languages with voice options, and for some languages, video chat options. When you open the app, you can scroll or use the search feature to find the language you are looking for.

“This app is really, really important,” said Zepeda. She says this new tool, gives people going through an emergency an easier way to be heard, and get the help they need. She says it also protects children from having to be involved. “It minimizes trauma.”

My opinion? The language line app is an excellent use of police resources which serves everyone. In an emergency, getting information quick is vital. However, challenges arise when responding officers and the caller do not speak the same language.

Language barriers are the source of much litigation. In State v. Prok, the WA Court of dismissed a DUI case against a Cambodian DUI defendant because the police officer failed to advise Mr. Prok of his right to counsel in language easily understood. By itself, State v. Prok assisted defense attorneys who argued Motions to Suppress evidence based on language barriers between police and defendants.

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.

No More Traffic Heroes

Traffic Q&A: What happens if I report an HOV violator? | Tacoma News Tribune

According to Kiro 7 News, after 37 years, the “764-HERO” program used to report carpool lane violators will end on Sept. 22.

The Washington State Department of Transportation began the program in 1984 to educate high-occupancy lane violators about the purpose, rules and benefits of the freeway lanes. The goal was to encourage travelers to call 1-877-764-HERO to help enforce HOV lane rules in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. It was expanded in 2010 to include Washington State Ferries waiting lanes.

After receiving reports from the phone number, WSDOT mails first-time violators educational materials. Second-time HOV lane violators are sent a letter from WSDOT, and third-time violators are sent a letter from the Washington State Patrol.

According to Kiro 7 News, the program is ended because most drivers are familiar with how HOV lanes and ferry lines work. The Washington State Patrol will continue to issue violations.

Over the next few months, crews will begin removing the “764-HERO” signs across King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. The signs will be gradually replaced with signs showing the fine for improperly using HOV lanes. Violators could be fined $186 for the first offense. Repeat offenders face up to $536. Increased fines also apply to motorists who have a mannequin, doll or dummy.

My opinion? An HOV ticket may not seem serious. The fine is usually fairly small and you may just be tempted to pay the infraction. However, HOV tickets are moving violations. Your insurance company could raise your rates as a result.

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