Tag Archives: social media

Bremerton, shuck all the peanuts you want (it’s not actually illegal)


“Everything that anyone ever posted to the Internet is true.”

Said no one, ever.

Yes, we all know inaccuracies litter the information superhighway. But one of the World Wide Web’s most inaccurate rumors about Bremerton is that it is against the law to shuck peanuts on city streets. We see it pop up on social media sites every few weeks, and it is proclaimed to be accurate on several websites pertaining to “dumb laws.”

Bottom line: There is no truth to it whatsoever.

After seeing it so many times, I decided to investigate the city’s code in an effort to determine its veracity.

Nothing there I could find.

I checked with Mark Koontz, Bremerton’s assistant city attorney, who agreed that there is just no such thing on the books.

Screen shot 2013-05-03 at 10.47.53 AM
Source: dumblaws.com

“There’s no truth to that,” he said.

If you shuck your peanuts onto the city street, that could be considered littering, Koontz added.

But that would apply to anywhere with a littering code. And the websites are quite specific: you shall not shuck peanuts on the streets of our fine city.

Perhaps it had been a law in the past, only to be repealed?

I consulted Bill Broughton, prominent area lawyer and one time the city’s attorney in the 1980s. He’d never heard of such a thing.

“That’s a new one on me,” he said. “We did set a goal of repealing antiquated laws when I was there but I do not remember this one.”

I turned to Russell Warren, one of Bremerton’s sharpest minds when it comes to area history. He hadn’t heard of it either.

I even emailed some of the purveyors of websites which purport the law to be the truth.

I heard back from one — Andy Powell at dumblaws.com — who said he was looking into the source. Other web sites never responded.

So far, I have been unable to find a single source of the perceived law. My hope is to debunk it officially. So I humbly ask for your help, dear readers, on this journey.

I would love to hear from any of you who knows where it may have come from. Drop a line below, or send me an email at jfarley@kitsapsun.com.

One of the most intriguing parts of the mystery is the idea peanuts would be singled out as unlawful to shuck. Perhaps an odd vendetta against the bean by an anti-peanut former mayor?

Regardless, I stand firm in the belief the law is hogwash.

Jurors! Focus on the Courtroom!

A new marketing campaign is underway in our courts. But you won’t likely see it unless you A) read this blog or B) get called for jury duty.

The campaign comes in response to our nation’s embrace of social media in all facets of life. The courts, always lethargic in keeping up with the times, have only begun to channel juror social media behavior so as to preserve the integrity and impartiality of the jury.

Here’s the latest by way of our own courts in Washington: a poster.

In short, it’s message: Focus on the courtroom! (As you can see.)

Here’s the press release from Washington Courts:

Recent headlines point to a new concern for courts: “Judge to Juror: Stop tweeting about the murder trial”; “Jurors ‘friending’ each other on Facebook” and “Googling juror prompts court to overturn jury verdict”.

In the age of social media, with smart phones at our fingertips every day, sharing a ‘status update’ on the experience of serving as a juror may be the instinctive response.

Starting this month, jurors in Washington courtrooms will see a new poster designed to remind jurors of their critical role in assuring a fair trial — and the importance of refraining from researching a case online or commenting on social media sites while the trial is ongoing.
“We recognize that, in their normal 21st century lives, jurors may routinely post information about all of their activities on websites and are probably accustomed to using the internet to get quick answers to any question that might arise,” said King County Superior Court Judge William Downing Co-Chair of the Washington State Pattern Jury Instructions Committee.
“Because these are such natural impulses in our electronic age, jurors will benefit from a gentle reminder that their duty to provide a fair trial requires them to postpone these activities until after their trial is finished.”
This is a critical point. The U.S. Constitution requires impartial juries, meaning that jurors must be unbiased, must refrain from prematurely forming or discussing opinions about the case, and must base their decisions solely on the information received in the courtroom.
The poster cautions jurors to avoid outside information about the case from the internet or other sources, and not to text, e-mail, blog, or discuss the case with family or friends.

The poster was created by the Washington Pattern Jury Instructions Committee, with private funds at no cost to taxpayers.

So, there you have it. Any thoughts on the poster?

Tweet with the chief of the Washington State Patrol Wednesday

or everything, there is a first. And on Wednesday, the Washington State Patrol’s chief will forge headfirst into the foray of social media.

Chief John Batiste will host an hour and a half session of #askWSP on Twitter. From 2:30-4 p.m. Wednesday, he’ll be at ready to respond to whatever the Twittersphere throws his way.

“I love going to Rotary and Kiwanis, and other events where I get to hear directly from the people we serve,” Batiste said in a press release. “This is a simply a new way of doing what all good leaders should be doing.”

The chief said he’ll be challenged to stay to 140-character answers.

“I have big hands, so I hope people will excuse any typos,” he said.

UPDATE, 9/28: Batiste has been typing away this afternoon answering questions. To see them go here.

More from the press release:

Batiste will be assisted by staff who will quickly research any detailed questions. About the only topic off-limits will be those concerning active investigations. Questions that demand more than 140 characters will be more fully answered on WSP’s Facebook page.

You can watch or participate in the “#askWSP” event by following @wastatepatrol on Twitter. Questions should be tweeted with the hashtag “#askWSP.”

Jury Selection: A Courts Reporter Reflects

I sought the help from fellow journalists in researching a story about social media and its affect on the courts.

I was lucky enough to hear back from John Painter, Jr., a retired Oregonian courts reporter (and, as no one is immune from the process, a seven-time potential juror), who offered me these thoughts on jury selection, the process some lawyers call “pick ’em and stick ’em.”

“In my experience as a juror, during voire dire I was bumped from every case but one (both sides had run out of challenges) solely because as a court reporter I knew too much about trials and the trial tactics of both sides.

In my experience as both juror and journalist, I came to several conclusions:

(1) Jurors being questioned routinely lie about their positions on issues they think could get them bumped;

(2) lawyers on both sides harbor deep-seated prejudices about who would make a good and bad juror and the common rationales for bumping certain types of jurors are mostly without real-world foundation, but “blogging” news web sites is a red flag;

(3) lawyers involved in criminal litigation invariably will disqualify any potential jurors with any link to any media (and in this day and age that includes anything dealing with the web);

(4) no expert worth his/her salt can tell you anything substantive about who would be a good or bad juror; humans are just too complicated.”