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Archive for June, 2007

Thawing Out Cold Cases

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Brasfield has converged a cream-of-the-crop team of retired law enforcement officers to tackle the county’s unsolved missing persons and homicide cases.

They’re all volunteering for the job, and are residents of Jefferson County. Their law enforcement experience, however, sets them apart — more than 100 years among them, in stints with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, the federal A.T.F., and even the Mercer Island Police Department.

According to a press release from the office, the cold case “squad” will focus on six and ten cases that date back as much as 40 years.

Among them:

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Probable Cause vs. Reasonable Doubt

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

An interesting distinction has emerged in the case of the 16-year-old Bainbridge teen arrested last week after police served a search warrant on his house.

Police developed their suspicion — or probable cause — for his arrest through their investigation of threats of violence at Bainbridge High School.

This probable cause was the rationale for the search warrant of the boy’s house that a judge approved. However, police ultimately arrested him on suspicion of crimes that were more or less unrelated to their search warrant application (though I could see an argument that they were related).

But I had to pose the question: is it common for suspected crimes in a search warrant to fall through, while suspected ones during the search warrant application become charges that stick by prosecutors?

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Hook, Line and Sinker

Monday, June 25th, 2007

As Bremerton’s major redevelopment continues, it appears its police department is doing some renovations of its own.

Years of a high per capita violent crime rate and an understaffed police force has made an officer’s work here “reactive” more than “proactive,” many officers have told me.

But police last Thursday targeted vehicle prowlers with a “bait car,” outside the 7-Eleven on Sixth Street and Park Avenue. Prowling and car theft having long been a problem, it appears our local cops were looking for a proactive way to stop it before it impacts real victims — and make thieves think twice about getting into your car next time.

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UPDATE: Vandals Tarnish a Schoolyear’s End

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Early June 14, vandals hit North Mason High School, marking the second time in about a month the district has been attacked by graffiti and hooliganism.

In mid-May, vandals struck their bus barn, damaging 28 of the district’s total 33 school buses by breaking gauges and tagging buses, ultimately doing about $10,000 in damage.

In mid-June they chose the high school — spraying more graffiti, discharging fire extinguishers and pushing chairs down the stairs — at a time when the school’s seniors have graduated and there’s only days left in school.

UPDATE: Now, Mason County Sheriff’s deputies believe they’ve solved the case …

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DUI Moves into Felony Realm

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

On July 1, Washington drivers with four previous DUI convictions in the past 10 years will be eligible for a felony conviction.

Why this matters: felonies are treated in a different court system and penalties are much stiffer — up to five years in a state prison rather than the current maximum of a year in the local jail.

House Bill 3317 passed unanimously in both houses of the legislature and was signed into law in 2006. Its primary sponsor was Rep. Patricia Lantz, D-Gig Harbor.

It signals a new direction for the legislature in DUI law: that following years of lowering the blood-alcohol content threshold to .08 for a DUI conviction — and thus increase the quantity of offenders — lawmakers are pursuing more quality convictions through increased incarceration.

Are the penalties too harsh? Too lenient?

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Where the Med Pot Grows

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Some interesting developments on the medical marijuana front were covered across the country today.

Connecticut’s governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed medicinal uses of the plant, and a rogue ex-cop wrote a book about how users can “stash their pot” without the authorities’ ever finding out.

Here in Kitsap, the issue is still simmering following a lawsuit brought by a former TeleTech employee fired for failing a drug test (she contends her pot use was medicinal) and a bust by our local drug task force of an Everett-based medicinal pot organization.

Check out the stories and feel free to add your comments about them below.


Law in Focus: The Plight of Paris

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Blogger’s Note: Law In Focus is a feature here at the Forum that poses a question to a local attorney concerning a recent court decision or controversial area of law. Keep in mind: these are lawyers we’re talking about. So expect them to have opinions. Feel free to comment on them below or ask a question.

Today’s topic: Paris Hilton has made headlines recently — as she always does — by getting a DUI, driving with a suspended license, and ultimately landing in jail for those crimes. There’s been much talk in the media about the case: did authorities make an example out of her by casting a harsh sentence? Were they too lenient for the same reason? Here to comment on the decision is Stan Glisson, a local Bremerton defense attorney.

Here’s Stan’s opinion:

Paris Hilton has been ordered back to jail by the sentencing judge in her case for violating probation. Many think she has been treated too harshly, receiving a 45 day jail sentence. Statistics compiled by the LA Times certainly suggest that defendants facing similar allegations commonly get less time. But does that make her sentence unfair?

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With Sentencing Over, What Next for Former Chief?

Monday, June 18th, 2007

A judge sentenced Naval Base Kitsap’s former command master chief to a sex offender treatment alternative this morning in Kitsap County Superior Court.

But what next for Edward E. Scott?

What about all of the comments on this blog about his military retirement? And how long will a rigorous sex offender treatment program take?

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Internet Bullies

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

“A victim of cyber-bullying is often belittled and intimidated until his or her life is ruled by paranoia and fear.”

Those are the words of Phar West, a Central Kitsap Junior High School ninth grader, in an essay that won first place in the Kitsap County Bar Association’s annual writing contest in commemoration of law day.

The essay also caught the eye of Washington’s Division II Court of Appeals Judge Robin Hunt, who is also a Kitsap County resident.

Educators will tell you cyber-bullying is on the rise, a scary new way for kids to continue belittling classmates off school grounds on message boards at social networking sites like MySpace.com.

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No Sally Port for You

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

In a story on kitsapsun.com today, you may have read about the troubles the Bainbridge Island Police Department is having in securing a functional, “ant-free” station.

Sure, they’ve got a $600,000+ police boat (at right, with deputy chief Mark Duncan at the helm), but what about a sally port?

We have a few of these ports in the county — the jail, juvenile detention center and Bremerton police station — which provide a locked space between two areas.

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