Sunday, November 27, 2011

WSP Trooper Sues Own Agency

A Washington State Patrol trooper alleges that his own agency is discriminating against him because he's white and a Mormon, and now is in the process of filing a law suit.

In a recently-filed lawsuit, Stg. David Divis alleges the state patrol "took adverse employment action" against him based on his race and religion.

The News Tribune reported WSP launched an internal investigation against Divis for allegedly making disparaging remarks about black troopers.

In the suit, Divis contends someone made disparaging remarks about him, "including a comment that (he) must have discriminated against certain troopers because his church does not allow blacks to attend."

The suit goes on to say that Divis was not treated the same as fellow employees of different races.

In response to the allegations, the state patrol issued a statement saying that they have acted in good faith throughout this process and are confident that the court will determine that they have acted lawfully.

Divis was originally demoted, but a judge reinstated him. He is now on paid leave.

If you or a loved one is faced with a DUI charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington DUI laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington DUI law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Former Federal Prosecutor Blasts Marijuana Laws

John McKay, the unlikely champion of marijuana legalization, joked that he was about to be fed to lions. Then he walked on stage and tried to convince about 130 sheriffs and police chiefs that he was not crazy.

For 90 minutes Wednesday, the former federal prosecutor from Seattle blasted drug laws as failed, antiquated policies that were a limitless cash machine for murderous organized-crime syndicates feeding America's seemingly bottomless appetite for marijuana.

A few in the audience — a gathering of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) at a Lake Chelan resort — nodded. But mostly the picture was one of frowns beneath mustaches.

In the end, the cops voted as expected: They unanimously recommended rejection of Initiative 502, a measure headed to the Legislature or to voters next November that would legalize, tax and regulate small marijuana sales similarly to alcohol.

But after listening to McKay and a counter-argument by Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug-policy adviser, several sheriffs and police chiefs described being squeezed between the rising social acceptance of marijuana, laws banning its use, and increasingly limited law-enforcement resources.

McKay said passing I-502 could begin a state-based movement to force Congress into re-examining marijuana laws. "It will take states to say: This is wrong, this is our statement," he said.

Sue Rahr, King County sheriff and president of WASPC, said that type of advocacy can make cops uneasy. "We enforce the law, and here we are being asked to help change the law," said Rahr, who declined to take a position in I-502. "That's a dilemma."

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said he'd have preferred the group take no position after hearing McKay. "What we have is so broken," he said. "The long-term strategy of the DEA is, 'Spend more money, hire more agents.' I hope for better."

In his five years as the top federal prosecutor in Seattle, appointed by President George W. Bush, McKay's office filed charges against Canada's "Prince of Pot" and led a case involving helicopter smuggling of B.C. Bud that ultimately netted $2 million, a ton of marijuana and at least a dozen convictions.

After he was forced to resign with eight other U.S. attorneys in a politically motivated purge by the Bush administration, McKay endorsed marijuana legalization in a Seattle Times opinion piece. On Wednesday, he reiterated that he doesn't smoke pot and "doesn't like people very much who smoke pot."

But marijuana prohibition is the reason that British Columbia-based gangs smuggling high-grade pot are the "dominant organized crime in the Northwest," and it accounts for 40 to 60 percent of funding for Mexican cartels, he said.

Prohibition also fails its objective, he said. "I think it's pretty clear that our criminalization of marijuana for the last 70 years as a vehicle to reduce its use is a failure," said McKay, citing DEA figures that 16 million Americans regularly use it.

He reminded the assembled cops that a second former U.S. attorney, Kate Pflaumer, and the former FBI chief in Seattle endorsed I-502, helping make it the strongest legalization campaign to date.

State data show at least 9,308 adults and 1,217 juveniles were charged statewide in 2010 for marijuana possession of less than 40 grams (about 1.4 ounces).

Sabet, who worked for federal drug czar and former Seattle police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, said studies show use would undoubtedly rise with legalization, and new marijuana taxes would not cover the increased societal costs.

Campaign director Alison Holcomb, who joined McKay in Chelan, said I-502 had about 230,000 signatures and almost certainly will qualify for the November 2012 ballot.

If I-502 were to pass, the state Liquor Control Board, based on federal drug-use surveys, estimates that about 445,000 people — 10 percent of the adults over age 21 — would use marijuana. The analysis estimates that 95 percent of users would consume two grams — roughly two thumb-sized buds — a week, and the remaining 5 percent of more hard-core users would smoke 2 grams a day.

Based on those estimates, I-502 would make marijuana a top-five agricultural product in Washington, with gross receipts of nearly $582 million, according to research by the state Legislature. With a 25 percent tax at each link of the production, distribution and retail chain, I-502 would generate $215 million a year, with nearly two-thirds of it earmarked for research and addiction prevention.

But one cop at Wednesday's debate, who declined to give his name, said his son's struggle with marijuana was serious enough that he had his son arrested. The young man has "straightened himself out," the cop said.

The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for Assault and Battery in and around Western Washington and the greater Puget Sound region. The SQ team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations being alleged are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances. If you, a friend or a loved one is facing a criminal charge in Washington State, protect your rights and freedom — call SQ Attorneys, seattle criminal attorneys at (206) 441-0900; it will be the best decision you make all day!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Seattle PD Detective Arrested After DUI Crash

A Seattle undercover police detective accused of rear-ending a car last Thursday afternoon while intoxicated was previously convicted of DUI in 1994, court records show.

Records show that the detective, John Fox, was sentenced to a year on jail for the previous DUI - but he was freed after serving only one day in a county jail and paid a $560 fine. According to court documents, Fox's license was not suspended.

Meanwhile, the driver of a car that was rear-ended by Fox on Thursday says he was "in complete shock and absolutely terrified" after the crash.

The impact of the crash shoved Pratt's car into two other vehicles, according to investigators, and Pratt said the detective's unmarked vehicle made no attempt to stop before slamming into his car.

Pratt said one of his biggest fears was that his car could catch fire after the crash.

He also said Mukilteo police who responded to the accident never took a statement from him and never told him that he had been hit by an unmarked Seattle police vehicle driven by an undercover detective. They even refused to provide him with insurance information, he says.

"We didn't get any information about who he was or what he was or anything about the situation at all," Pratt says.

Meanwhile, police reports obtained Friday by KOMO News say six empty 50-milliliter bottles of peppermint schnapps and a nearly empty 375-ml bottle of 80 proof vodka were found on the floor of the detective's vehicle, along with two handguns in a bag and a knife in his pocket.

The 46-year-old Fox smelled of alcohol, slurred his words, walked with a pronounced stagger and was unable to stand steadily on his own, the police report said. His eyes were watery and bloodshot.

The police report says Fox apologized to the arresting officer.

"I'm an idiot. I really screwed up," he reportedly said.

But he refused to take a breath test or to undergo a field sobriety test. He was handcuffed, taken to the station, cited for investigation of DUI, given a court date, then released. In court on Friday, he had little to say.

If you or a loved one is faced with a DUI charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington DUI laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington DUI law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Yakima Police Spending Tax Money on Booze

Records obtained by the Yakima Herald-Republic show the Yakima police officers suspended for spending more than $400 in tax money on beer for themselves tried to hide their alcohol purchases.

When Yakima City Manager Don Cooper suspended Chad Urwin and Ryan Urlacher in October rather than firing them, he said the officers' actions were likely the result of confusion over the policy rather than intent to violate it.

But a review of police investigative records obtained by the newspaper shows that the officers tried to hide the beer purchases. The records also revealed why firing them could have been difficult, given the obscurity of the city's no-alcohol policy and contradictions in travel, purchasing and reimbursement policies.

According to those records, the officers admitted under questioning that they suspected it was against city policy to buy beer or alcohol with city funds during a two-week firearms instruction course in Spokane last summer.

Rather than confirm the policy, they concocted a scheme to persuade waitresses to write off their bar tabs as tips on their receipts.

A police clerk immediately flagged the receipts, noting the officers paid tips with their dinner on 10 different occasions that sometimes exceeded the entire food bill by 200 percent or more.

For example, on June 20, Urlacher bought a mushroom burger at Hooters for $7.48 with tax, then added a tip of $24.52. Urwin had a cheeseburger for the same price and tacked on a $25 tip.

Ordered to explain themselves, the officers admitted in interviews with Lt. Tom Foley that much of their "tips" were actually used to pay off their nightly bar tab, according to the investigative records. They said they persuaded waitresses to keep separate dinner and bar tabs, then had the waitresses put down their bar tabs as tips. No cash changed hands.

Urlacher, a former Washington State Patrol trooper, told Foley that his past experience as a state employee was that per diems did not have to be itemized, that per diems covered alcohol so long as it was off the clock and that the important point was not to max out his allowance.

Just before leaving for Spokane, Urlacher had confirmed via email with a senior police clerk that he and Urwin each had $61 per diems to work with and that they could spend it any way they wanted. Writing off the bar tab as tips was just a way of avoiding a "riff" with a bookkeeper, he said.

Acting police Chief Greg Copeland wrote "honesty issues" on an internal memo, agreeing with top aides that "only option is termination."

The city's prohibition against paying for alcohol is contained within the policy governing use of city credit cards, but the policy is tucked into the city's voluminous administrative code.

In addition to the obscurity of the city's no-alcohol policy, firing the officers might have been complicated by the question of whether employees were given the policies when they were hired. Nothing in the case file suggested the two officers ever signed off as having received the policy, as required of all city employees who use city-issued credit cards.

Cooper stated he chose to suspend the officers rather than fire them in part to avoid "unnecessary litigation" and because there are policy problems, which he said he plans to tackle once the city's troublesome 2012 budget is put to bed.

Cooper docked the officers the equivalent of a week's pay. He also required them to reimburse the city for the cost of the beer - about $200 each - and they were removed as firearms instructors for the department.

If you, a friend or a loved one, has been criminally charged with a crime you are probably feeling anxious and even apprehensive about the future. That is why it is so important that the necessary steps to protect rights and freedom are exercised. A Seattle criminal lawyer will provide the necessary legal advice and counseling a person needs in these situations, and will greatly enhance a person’s chance of beating (or at the very least reduce) the charges being brought against him.

A Seattle criminal attorney who is familiar with the Washington legal system will fully review every aspect of the charges being alleged so as to create the best possible defense no matter what one’s criminal background (or lack thereof) may be; a Seattle criminal attorney will do everything possible to fully investigate every facet of a person’s arrest and the actions leading up to it. Statistically speaking, individuals who utilize the representation and assistance of a legal professional during a criminal case achieve significantly better results than those who do not work with a seasoned criminal defense attorney.

The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for Assault and Battery in and around Western Washington and the greater Puget Sound region. The SQ team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations being alleged are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances. If you, a friend or a loved one is facing a criminal charge in Washington State, protect your rights and freedom — call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900; it will be the best decision you make all day!