Kitsap Crime and Justice

The Kitsap Sun staff writes about crime and criminal justice issues.
Subscribe to RSS
Back to Kitsap Crime and Justice

Archive for the ‘Legal Conundrums’ Category

Followup: Humane society responds to dog owner’s claims

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

The Kitsap Humane Society released a lengthy statement Wednesday pertaining to Bremerton resident Doug Bolds’ allegations about how his dog was handled when Bolds was arrested for DUI in June 2010.

Here’s their release:

June 15, 2011 – Silverdale, WA – In 2010, Kitsap Humane Society successfully reunited nearly 600 pets with their owners. We prefer that all companion animals remain with their original owner so long as the animal is well provided for. We make every attempt to return animals to their owners, including microchip scanning, lost and found audio report (available by calling the shelter) and lost and found online report. We also hold all stray animals for 96 hours before they are available for adoption to give owners an opportunity to locate them at the shelter and reclaim them. We follow these guidelines for a stray animal or an animal of someone who has been arrested or incarcerated.

In addition, for an incarcerated citizen, our standard operating procedure is to fax an owner release form to the correctional facility where the owner is being held. We then hold the animal for five days to give them adequate time to make arrangements to pick up their animal. We handle these types of situations on a weekly basis. Unless the owner has been arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty charges, we make every effort to reunite animals with their owners.

According to Doug Bolds’ statements to the Kitsap Sun, he claims Kitsap Humane Society adopted his dog out without giving him the opportunity to reclaim it. There is ambiguity surrounding the allegations made by Bolds as there are no microchip or license records indicating he is the original owner of the dog, despite the fact that pet licensing is required by law. Our records do indicate the dog arrived at KHS on June 3, 2010 and was adopted 14 days later. We have no records indicating that Bolds made any attempt to contact KHS, either directly or through friends or family during this time period, though the dog was in a kennel in a public area of our shelter until it was adopted.

We do, however, have a record of a subsequent contact between Bolds and one of our officers in January 2011. Bolds was a bystander in an unrelated case. In the course of the investigation, Bolds accused the officer of taking his dog in June (the officer was not involved in the original case) and adopting it to someone else the next day. Bolds told the officer that “the troopers” told him KHS had adopted the dog out the day after it was impounded. The officer told Bolds that KHS would not have done so; that the shelter holds animals for a minimum of five days before adopting them out. The officer gave Bolds Animal Welfare Director, Stacey Price’s phone number and instructed him to call her. When Bolds called Stacey, he was belligerent and verbally abusive before hanging up on her, refusing to answer any of her questions. This was the last interaction we had with Bolds.

Kitsap Humane Society has been serving the communities of Kitsap County since 1908 and is an independent nonprofit, currently providing Animal Control contract services to Kitsap County, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard, Poulsbo and Naval Base Kitsap.


‘Problem Solving’ Courts: America’s Answer to its Law and (Dis) Order?

Monday, February 28th, 2011

For a few days at the end of January, I got to go to New York City for the sixth annual Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America. It was an honor to represent the Kitsap Sun and the good news is it gave me lots of new ideas for how to better cover criminal justice in our area.

This year’s theme was “Law and Disorder: Facing the Legal and Economic Challenges to American Criminal Justice.”

I was among 26 journalists from around the country that submitted a project and was awarded a chance to come to New York to hear from some of the most accomplished judges, prosecutors, police, corrections officials in the nation.

One of the best speakers was the symposium’s first: Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the New York state court of appeals. Lippman has done much work promoting “problem solving” courts. I immediately thought of Kitsap County’s drug court.

I wonder if Lippman would say we could go further in this arena.

There are more than 180 drug courts in New York and he said 57,000 offenders have gone through them, giving those a chance to “get clean and avoid jail and prison,” he said.

Lippman said problem solving courts, which include domestic violence and veterans courts, have saved the state two million days of incarceration. For more about his discussion, click here.

I’ll blog about other experiences from New York that have stuck with me in the coming weeks and months.


Initiatives Around the Nation Worth Watching

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Washington is home to arguably the most policy-changing ballot initiatives this year than any other state. Who else is voting on privatizing labor insurance and liquor, or repealing candy and bottled water taxes while also looking at an income tax?

I wanted to give readers here at the crime and justice blog an idea of some of the initiatives I’ll be watching in other states as the results come in tonight:

Here’s the others around the country I’ll be watching:

Proposition 19 (California): would legalize and tax marijuana, which would open up a wider legal civil war between states and the federal government, which still classifies weed as a Schedule I drug;

California also has two initiatives that simultaneously would a) let an independent commission redraw congressional districts when necessary and b) abolish that same commission from doing its current work (redrawing state legislative districts).

California also has a chance to repeal its requirement that both their own house and senate must pass a budget by a super-majority. Only three states do this.

Finally, in California, there’s an initiative to repeal the legislature and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s so-called cap and trade program to bring California’s carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The initiative would restrict that law unless unemployment got below 5.5 percent (it’s at 12% right now).

Massachusetts’ question 3 would have that state’s sales tax from 6.25 to 3 percent.

South Dakota referred law 12 would institute a statewide smoking ban like the one Washington pioneered in 2005.

Ballot measure 74 (Ore.) would greatly expand the ability of state’s residents to form dispensaries to sell medical marijuana to qualifying patients, and the state to regulate them.

And finally, there is Oklahoma, with a barrage of initiatives, including: making English the “unifying” language of the state, requiring voters to show their immigration papers, mandating spending a certain percentage of the state budget on education, and, especially of note:

Question 755: banning the use in the courts of Islamic Sharia law– in a state with only 15,000 Muslims.


New Cell Phone Law Could Shoulder Unintended Consequences

Friday, May 28th, 2010

The day police can instantly write $124 tickets for drivers talking on cell phones is rapidly approaching. But like any change in law, it may have its share of unintended effects.

One such possible outcome that worries state troopers is that people will pack the shoulders of highways, pulling off to take a phone call. That’s dangerous, says Krista Hedstrom, spokeswoman for the local Washington State Patrol district.

“It’s a huge hazard when cars are whizzing by at 60 mph,” she said.

Those that do stop may just get a parking ticket for doing so because the risk is so great, Hedstrom said.

She encourages people to find a parking lot or area that is not mere feet from high speed lanes of traffic. Or better yet, check out the deals on hands-free devices so you can keep talking while en route.


Does Poll Provide Peek into Voters’ Views on Pot?

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

The Washington Poll, which fancies itself as non-partisan, academic survey, published a litany of results on political issues facing Washingtonians on Monday. One in particular caught my eye: 52 percent of their 1,252 voters surveyed said they were for “removing state civil and criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana.”

Initiative 1068 would do just that, and its organizers have been busy getting signatures in Kitsap and beyond. Sensible Washington, the group behind it, says it wants to get 320,000 signatures by July to put it on the November ballot.

Passage of such an initiative — which has counterparts in Oregon and California — would be quite the policy change. But it would pit our state against the federal government, which expressly bans marijuana sale and use of any kind. I’m curious as to what that showdown would look like.

For now, we are left to wonder. But feel free to leave your own views here: what would happen if state law was to legalize pot, yet federal law still said no to it altogether?


Is the ‘War on Drugs’ Still Winnable?

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Forty years. Hundreds of thousands of lives. Around $1 trillion dollars. The AP says those are the costs of the so-called “War on Drugs” in America and wonders: was it worth it?

I wonder subsequently: can such a “war” be won in the future?

Martha Mendoza’s critique examines not only the past but what the Obama Administration plans to do with a record $15 billion-plus budget to fight drugs. There’ll be more emphasis on prevention and treatment, says U.S. drug czar and former Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske.

I’d suggest reading the piece for yourself. But here’s the thrust of the story, which presents the drug war as a frustrating stalemate:

“In 1970, proponents said beefed-up law enforcement could effectively seal the southern U.S. border and stop drugs from coming in. Since then, the U.S. used patrols, checkpoints, sniffer dogs, cameras, motion detectors, heat sensors, drone aircraft — and even put up more than 1,000 miles of steel beam, concrete walls and heavy mesh stretching from California to Texas.

None of that has stopped the drugs. The Office of National Drug Control Policy says about 330 tons of cocaine, 20 tons of heroin and 110 tons of methamphetamine are sold in the United States every year — almost all of it brought in across the borders. Even more marijuana is sold, but it’s hard to know how much of that is grown domestically, including vast fields run by Mexican drug cartels in U.S. national parks.”

It’s of course impossible to say what would have happened if our government hadn’t spent that money. But if nothing else, we know a lot more about drug trafficking and addiction than we did when President Nixon began the fight.

I’ll leave you with the same question: is the drug war still winnable? And if so, how?


Supreme Court: Sex Offenders Can Be Held Indefinitely

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

The US Supreme Court has upheld a 2006 law that allows for the federal government to imprison sex offenders beyond their sentences if they’re deemed “sexually dangerous.

Sound familiar? That’s because Washington was the vanguard in sex offender confinement with its passage of the Community Protection Act of 1990. That state law, along with creating a registration and community notification system for sex offenders, also set the stage for the state’s Special Confinement Center on McNeil Island — a place that holds those deemed “sexual violent predators,” indefinitely after they serve their prison time.

From what I’ve read, there isn’t that much different about the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act and Washington state’s law. The federal Walsh Act allows a judge to determine if a person should be held past their sentence; our state law allows for a kind of jury trial to determine if they should be confined indefinitely.

But I think the US Supreme Court’s overwhelming 7-2 decision puts more weight behind the Washington state law.

Here’s part of the decision, courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor:

“The statute is a ‘necessary and proper’ means of exercising the federal authority that permits Congress to create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned, and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned but who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others,” Justice (Stephen) Breyer wrote.

But here’s what I see as the most important aspect. Like Washington state’s law, it seemed Breyer — and U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, a supreme court nominee who argued the government’s position — believe sex offenders are as great a risk to public health as a disease outbreak.

From the Washington Post:

Kagan in January compared the government’s power to commit sexual predators to its power to quarantine federal inmates whose sentences have expired but have a highly contagious and deadly disease.

“Would anybody say that the federal government would not have Article I power to effect that kind of public safety measure? And the exact same thing is true here. This is exactly what Congress is doing here,” she said.

But not so fast, wrote Clarence Thomas, whose overarching fear seemed to be the idea of a national police force — an overreach by the federal government in his mind. From the Monitor:

“Protecting society from violent sexual offenders is certainly an important end,” Thomas wrote. “But the Constitution does not vest in Congress the authority to protect society from every bad act that might befall it.”


Report: Mentally Ill Three Times as Likely to Go to Prison Than Hospital

Friday, May 14th, 2010

“Deinstitutionalization,” the report reads, ” … has been one of the most well-meaning but poorly planned social changes ever carried out in the United States.”

The emptying of mental hospitals in the latter part of the 20th century was hailed for both cutting government costs and “liberating” the people inside. But for the most serious mentally ill, the move was a disaster, says a recently published by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Among their findings: Washingtonians who suffer from mental illness are three times as likely to be incarcerated than to be in a mental health treatment center. Also: In 1955, there was one psychiatric bed for every 300 Americans; in 2005, there was one for every 3,000 Americans.

And here in Kitsap? I have only anecdotal evidence. In a recent conversation I had with Ned Delmore, head of Kitsap County’s Juvenile Department, he told me that daily, a large tray moves through the juvenile detention center, carrying psychotropic drugs for those housed inside. And in many criminal cases I cover, mental health issues are raised — though I am not professionally trained in deciphering which claims are legitimate, and which are not.

Andrew Binion, former Kitsap Sun reporter and current editor at the Central Kitsap Reporter, wrote a story in March 2008 about this very predicament, documenting three local cases. In part, he said:

“While the three cases shed light on inconsistencies with how the criminal justice and health care system deals with mentally ill suspects, they also square with what mental health advocates have said for years — that jails and prisons have become warehouses for the mentally ill.”

Binion writes that Kitsap Mental Health Services has programs for such patients. But there is too great an “overflow,” that spills into jails and prisons — places ill-equipped to treat the mentally ill.

The Treatment Advocacy Center’s report says we’ve come full circle:

“the situation faced by individuals with serious mental illnesses today is remarkably similar to individuals with serious mental illnesses in the 1840s—a shortage of psychiatric beds and an abundance of jail and prison cells. If Dorothea Dix came back today, she would feel right at home.”

So what does the report suggest as a solution? I’ll let you read it.

Final Jails v Hospitals Study


Self Defense ‘A Tricky Thing’

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

A fatal shooting over the weekend has generated much discussion on our web site’s comment threads about when self defense is appropriate under the law. Here’s one opinion, from commenter robodrill:

“yes. washingtonians are allowed to shoot fleeing attackers.
if the guy’s story is true, he is innocent.”

I thought it’d be good to consult a lawyer who knows first hand how self defense works in court. Here to give us his analysis — free of any scrutinizing of the current case — is frequent Crime and Justice blog contributor and Bremerton attorney Stan Glisson:

“The statute (9A.16.020) tells us that force is not unlawful “Whenever used by a party about to be injured, or by another lawfully aiding him or her, in preventing or attempting to prevent an offense against his or her person, or a malicious trespass, or other malicious interference with real or personal property lawfully in his or her possession, in case the force is not more than is necessary”.
Homicide, specifically, is justified in the eyes of the law when committed either:

(1) In the lawful defense of the slayer, or his or her husband, wife, parent, child, brother, or sister, or of any other person in his presence or company, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or to any such person, and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished; or

(2) In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode, in which he is. (9A.16.050).

Anyone accused of an assault-type crime can assert that it was done in defense of themselves, of others, or of their property.  Once the defendant raises self defense, the burden shifts to the state to disprove it; in other words, lack of self defense becomes an element the state has to prove. In general, there is no duty to retreat. The defendant can resort to use of force in self defense as long as the defendant had a legal right to be in the place where force was used.  Also, a defendant cannot claim self defense if the defendant created the situation that cause the need for defense. In other words, a person can’t provoke a fight, then claim he or she needed to use force in self defense.
Self defense is a complete defense because it negates the element of intent.  It is a dangerous defense, because the accused basically waives any defense that they didn’t commit the crime: instead, they are arguing that it was justified. You can’t simultaneously argue ‘I didn’t do it’ and ‘I only did it because..’
If a defendant succeeds in presenting self defense, it is possible to recover from the charging entity (state or city) all costs they incurred as a result of the charge. That can be attorney’s fees, lost wages, etc. Basically the jury has said that what they did was permissible, so they should not have had to incur those costs.
The fear of injury justifying self defense is evaluated in terms of the subjective experience of the defendant.  The court must instruct the jury to evaluate the claim of self defense in light of all the circumstances known to the defendant.  Jurors are instructed to place themselves in the defendant’s shoes at the time of the alleged crime, considering what he was experiencing and what was known to him about the victim at the time. So, if there is past knowledge that makes the shooter’s decision more or less understandable, the jury is entitled to hear about that. That can result in the trial being a lot more about the prior history of the victim than would normally be allowed in a trial.
Self defense is a tricky thing. The defendant needs to have ‘clean hands’ for the jury to sympathize with his or her position. They have to relate to why he or she felt that there was no other reasonable option. And the more force was used, the more the jury has to agree with that decision. The defendant’s testimony is very important, as is the perception of the seriousness of the danger they were facing.”


Followup: ‘Spice’ Under Radar, But Certainly Not Unknown in Kitsap

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

After writing a story Tuesday about a new brand of “fake weed” substances that are surfacing around the country, I got a tip that Kitsap County’s juvenile drug court staff has also encountered this stuff.

“Spice,” also known as “K2,” and other monikers, got on their radars in late 2009. Two Bremerton teens participating in the drug court were presenting staff with a bit of a puzzle.

“Their (urinalysis tests) were coming up clean,” said drug court probation officer Carrie Prater, who monitors 20 to 30 kids a time through the program. “But their behaviors were that they were using.”

According to the DEA, these products are synthetic marijuana. An herb or spice is sprayed with a chemical that, when smoked like real marijuana, gives a similar high. The products are sold as a potpourri or incense.

Prater said the teens had entered the drug court for using substances unrelated to “Spice.” But one of the teens ordered some from Europe online, she said. He was pulled over while driving and an officer found it.

“We couldn’t even sanction them for it because it wasn’t in the contract yet,” she said.

That has since changed — the drug court contract now says participants can’t take substances that are counterproductive to the treatment process, she said. The Navy, too, has already banned it.

The teen admitted to having used Spice after he was pulled over and found with some. One other teen has also admitted to using it.

Both also told Prater something disturbing: that they’d experienced withdrawals — one of headaches and nausea, the other of anxiety and heart palpitations — when they stopped using it.

Stories from around the country (here’s a couple) confirm these chemicals can have bizarre — and perhaps damaging — effects on the body. The DEA is still studying these compounds, and they have a ways to go before we truly know what their long term effects are.

Early reports of products “made it sound like it was actually safer than marijuana,” Prater said. “When you hear their side effects, it’s definitely not.”


Available on Kindle

Polls

Do you support stricter gun laws?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...