Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Rise of ‘Problem Solving’ Courts Continues

As you might have read in our Sunday piece about Kitsap County’s juvenile drug court, the use of similar so-called “problem solving” courts are still gaining momentum around the nation.

Just what is a “problem solving” court? Here’s a great definition, by way of the Minnesota Judicial Branch:

“… The court works closely with prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, social workers, and other justice system partners to develop a strategy that will pressure an offender into completing a treatment program and abstaining from repeating the behaviors that brought them to court.

Problem-solving court strategies include extended probation, frequent appearances before a judge, frequent meetings with probation officers, staggered sentencing that breaks up jail time into segments and allows the participant to “earn” reductions in jail time with good behavior, and regular alcohol and other drug testing.”

You might be surprised to know that there are different kinds of problem solving courts now. In fact, in here in Washington, we have two veteran’s courts (in Thurston and King counties) as well as DUI courts and family drug courts (including here in Kitsap). Kitsap County was also home to the first juvenile mental health court.

Here’s an interesting piece on veteran’s courts, courtesy of

The first drug court debuted in 1989 in Florida. Since then, they’ve been springing up all over the place, backed up by statistics showing they reduce recidivism and save us money. I have long followed the story of John Houston, who graduated from Kitsap County’s adult drug court.

I’ll leave you with a question: What do you think of such courts? Please feel free to answer the poll on the right as well. I’ve also posted Washington state’s report on problem solving courts below for your perusal.

Treatment Courts in Washington

The Odd Hideouts of Illegal Substances

Illicit narcotics seem to turn up everywhere. Inside foreclosed homes, in speaker boxes, inside packages of baby clothes. They’ve even shown up here in Bremerton inside ATM machines.

Logically, given their nature as outlawed substances, they’re often hidden creatively. But sometimes, the people hiding them might not even remember where they stowed them away.

Or, in a recent Bremerton case, their user may not have had a chance to take his stash with him.

Police were called to a local pawn shop April 8 after an employee found a baggie of white stuff inside a tool box. Officer confirmed it was meth, and began to try and find out who it belonged to. Their investigation took them to a man, who claimed it belonged to another man, who … well, it could have gone on endlessly. Law enforcement’s best guess was that it was the property of a renter who was jailed, and couldn’t take his stash with him.

Carlos Rodriguez, sergeant in charge of the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team, said he’s seen drugs — as well as ill-gotten cash and weapons — in just about every nook and cranny you can think of.

When they’re executing a search warrant at a property, they expect the unexpected.

Rodriguez has found drugs in freezers, in the heads of flashlights, even in body cavities on the suspects themselves. He’s also found guns in walls, and cash at the bottom of suspects’ garbage in wads of toilet paper.

“It could be anywhere,” he said of a suspect’s drugs.

State Cops, Too, Will Follow Cell Phone Law

Talking on a cell phone while driving will soon cost you $124. A new law bumps up the existing cell phone ban from secondary offense to primary — meaning that an officer does not need any other reason to write you up for carrying on a conversation while heading down the highway.

There were exceptions to the law, however, one of which is if the person holding the phone is badged and driving a car with lights and sirens.

The Washington State Patrol, however, is rewriting its own handbook in that regard. Its chief, John Batiste, believes his troopers need to set an example.

“Using a hands-free device is a good idea for everyone, including troopers,” Batiste said in a press release. “Every driver has an obligation to be at their best while behind the wheel.”

Batiste added that he supports cell phone use by employees because the state patrol’s radio
system can be monitored, and phones can provide a way to communicate privately.

The state isn’t the only one to push for hands free devices. The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office has installed a hands free system called Parrot into nearly all of its patrol cars in the last six months, spokesman Scott Wilson said.

It may be implemented as a policy at the sheriff’s office as well. But as Wilson points out, the system, which broadcasts the call over the car’s stereo, is “crystal clear,” and convenient.

“I don’t know why anybody would not use it,” he said.

Not all of the county’s law enforcement agencies are changing policy. But the higher ups are asking for their officers to use good judgment.

“We have not set any such similar policy requiring them to use hands free devices, but we have suggested that they use good judgment and talk on the phone without hands free devices only when its safe to do so,” Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend wrote to me in an email. “Most of our officers use their own personally owned cell phones and have the hands free blue tooth type devices already and use them while on duty just like they would on their off duty time.”

Shawn Delaney, Poulsbo Police Department’s deputy chief, said they too don’t have a policy. But he said they’re cognizant that the public might not realize officers are exempt from the law, and want to set an example in not using the phone unless it’s necessary in the commission of their duties.

Tom Wolfe, Bremerton Police’s captain of patrol, said the department also encourages officers to pull over for calls that aren’t emergent in nature.

That said, there are circumstances — in progress calls and the like — where the officer has no choice but to talk on a cell phone while driving. The situation is so imminent that even going hands free is too time consuming, he said.

“The need to convey information in some situations immediately outweighs attempting to hook a phone up to any device,” he said.

Retiring Justice Stevens: ‘Poulsbo is a Postcard on the Water’

It’s quite the rarity when a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States makes the trek to a town such as Poulsbo.

But in 1985 and for the benefit of, among other things, the small town lawyer, Justice John Paul Stevens and his wife, Maryan, came to Poulsbo.

Stevens, who last week announced his retirement from the high court after serving the fourth longest term in its history, was invited to come by a group of nine Poulsbo attorneys who comprised what they called the Poulsbo Bar Association.

It was a shot in the dark, recalls Jeff Tolman, of longtime Poulsbo firm Tolman and Kirk. But after some letters of correspondence, Stevens agreed to come, Tolman said.

The lawyers invited Stevens to receive their “Small Town Lawyer Made Good,” award. Though Stevens cut his teeth as an attorney in not-small Chicago, the cadre of Poulsbo lawyers gave the award to either:

* a small town lawyer, or

* Supreme Court justices

From the St. Petersburg Times

And so the bow-tied, horn rimmed justice flew to Seattle with his wife, and Tolman, his law partner Mike Kirk, and now-Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jay Roof went to the airport to pick him up. There was no security — they drove a suburban and whisked him to Big Valley Road for a stay at Manor Farm.

Roof recalled Stevens as being a “very gracious man,” who was “willing to come out to the hinterlands.”

“He seemed to be the type of person that could understand justice could occur in rural areas,” Roof said.

They took Stevens for a sailboat ride on Puget Sound before Stevens received the award before a packed 300-room Sons of Norway hall.

Justice Stevens said he’d expected a town that was drying up and empty, Tolman recalled. Instead, he said that “Poulsbo is a postcard on the water.” It was a well received remark.

“If you wanna show small town lawyers in country you value them,” Tolman said of Stevens’ appearance, “What a wonderful way to do it.”

Tolman added that only about three years later, the same award was given to Justice Antonin Scalia, who also came to Poulsbo.

Stevens’ empathy for the rule of law in more rural areas has been mentioned in stories of his retirement. The New York Times asked some of Stevens’ former clerks to describe the 89-year-old justice. Eduardo M. Penalver, a professor at Cornell Law School who was Stevens’ clerk from 2000 to 2001, remembered the Poulsbo award. Here’s an excerpt from the Times’ article:

“During my clerkship interview with Justice Stevens, we talked about our hometowns. When I mentioned that I had grown up in a small town near Seattle, he leapt from his chair and pulled a plaque off the wall. It read: “Small Town Lawyer of the Year: Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.” It had been given to him a few years before by the bar association of Poulsbo, Wash.

At the time, I was puzzled that the award was so meaningful to him. I shouldn’t have been. Although Justice Stevens has always practiced law at the highest levels of the profession, his modesty would make him feel right at home in a place like Poulsbo. He may not have actually been a small town lawyer, but he was definitely a kindred spirit.”

Keeping Crime Victims in Mind

We’re a week early for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, but Kitsap County is getting a jump start tonight with the penning of a resolution acknowledging the pain victims go through.

The county commissioners are expected to sign a resolution — which you can read below — that includes some eye-opening statistics on just how far crime goes in affecting people in our community.

Here’s the resolution in full:

“WHEREAS, Victims may suffer emotional, physical, psychological, and financial harm as a result of crime; and

WHEREAS, A just society acknowledges crime’s impact on individuals, families, and communities, and ensures that victims are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect as they interact with the criminal justice system; and

WHEREAS, Treating victims with dignity serves the public interest by engaging victims in the justice system, inspiring respect for public authorities and promoting confidence in public safety; and

WHEREAS, We must continue to work to ensure fair treatment of crime victims by providing protections for child and sexual assault victims, ordering and enforcing victim restitution from offenders, and notifying victims of their right to compensation and services, thereby giving hope to victims that the system and society will work to restore dignity and respect their needs and rights; and

WHEREAS, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 18 – 24, provides an opportunity for us to raise awareness of the foundation of victims’ rights-fairness, dignity, and respect-and to recommit to honoring those values by ensuring that all victims are afforded their legal rights and provided with assistance as they face the financial, physical, and psychological impact of crime; and

WHEREAS, 9 homicides were referred for prosecution last year which include 3 domestic violence homicides and  3 vehicular homicides; and

WHEREAS, 1,410 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases, 3 vehicular homicides, and 13 vehicular assaults were referred for prosecution last year. and

WHEREAS, 2,555 Domestic Violence cases were referred for prosecution last year of which 3 were domestic violence homicides, with the YWCA Alive Shelter providing temporary shelter to 55 women and 36 children (providing a total of 3,575 bed nights) and responding to 7,112 crisis, information and referral calls, however turning away 1,432 women and children for lack of space. The YWCA Alive Bainbridge Island/North Kitsap provided services to 150 women and children, and YWCA Alive Legal Advocacy provided services to 1,020 people; and

WHEREAS, 689 Sexual Assaults were referred for prosecution last year (not including  7 pornographic materials cases, and 50 failure to register as sex offender cases).  The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) program performed approximately 127 sexual assault exams, and of these about 46 were for children aged 14 and under.  The Kitsap County Sexual Assault Center served 1,344 clients; and of those, 288 were child victims of sexual assault aged 12 and under, 286 were teen victims of sexual assault,  100 were adult victims of sexual assault, and  339 were adult sexual assault survivors; and

WHEREAS, Approximately 4,000 incidents of possible abuse and neglect of Kitsap County children were reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) in 2009 and 1,254 were accepted for investigation; and

WHEREAS, Kitsap County is joining forces with the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Kitsap Sexual Assault Center, the YWCA, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), The Domestic Violence Task Force, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), Kitsap Special Sexual Assault Investigations and Victims’ Services (SAIVS), Crime Victims Assistance Center, Families and Friends of Violent Crime Victims, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol, Port Orchard Police Department, Bremerton Police Department, Poulsbo Police Department, Suquamish Police Department, Bainbridge Island Police Department, Port Gamble S’Klallam Police Department, and concerned citizens throughout Kitsap County, Washington State and America to observe 2010 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners designates the week of April 18-24, 2010, as Kitsap County Crime Victims’ Rights Week; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners reaffirms a commitment to respect and enforce victims’ rights and address their needs during 2010 Kitsap County Crime Victims’ Rights Week and throughout the year; and

We express our appreciation for those victims and crime survivors who have turned personal tragedy into a motivating force to improve our response to victims of crime and build a more just community.”

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

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.”