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Service Dog's Rights Before U.S. Supreme Court

Posted Monday, November 7, 2016 by Andrew Charles Huff

It seems that just about everywhere I go these days, whether it be the grocery store, the mall or even restaurants and bars, I see our furry four-legged friends all around. Service dogs are with us everywhere these days as they provide assistance and comfort to people who need them.

But are their limits to where these helpful hounds can go with us, such as schools?
The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard the case of a 12-year-old Michigan girl with cerebral palsy who was barred from bringing her service dog to her school class. Elehna’s dog Wonder is trained to help her open doors, pick up items and provide her a level of independence. But school officials insisted that an adult could provide all the help she needs rather than Wonder. Eventually, the school relented but placed so many restrictions on the dog that it became nearly impractical and Ehlena eventually transferred to another school more welcoming to Wonder.

The actual issue before the High Court is actually a bit more arcane: Could Ehlena sue the school district immediately or must she first go through administrative proceedings that take much longer.

This issue is important to disability groups seeking to remove hurdles that can discourage people from pursuing their legal rights.

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Traffic Ticket Options

Posted Friday, October 28, 2016 by Andrew Charles Huff

What is Mitigating a ticket?

When you choose to mitigate a traffic ticket, you are admitting you did it and simply requesting the judge lower your fine. The ticket will then appear on your record. When deciding whether to reduce your fine, the judge will look at your traffic record and the circumstances of this incident. Some infractions such as school zone or construction zone tickets may not be mitigated and your fine cannot be reduced.

Or requesting a Deferral?

RCW 46.63.070 allows one deferral every seven years for a non-moving violation and one deferral is allowed every seven years for a moving violation. This law allows a judge to grant you a deferral but does not require it.

If you comply with the conditions of a deferral, the traffic infraction will not appear on your record. However, if you get a second infraction within the time period specified, or fail to make your payment, the first infraction will appear on your record and you will have to pay the full fine for the first infraction as well.
But remember, it’s important to use deferrals very sparingly because the majority of the time, we can keep the ticket off your record without using your deferral. A deferral should only be reserved as a last option.

Check the “Contested Hearing” box

A Contested Hearing is what you want if you wish your ticket to go away. By requesting a Contested Hearing, you are asking the prosecutor to prove their case against you.

At this hearing, I make legal motions prior to the beginning of the case on potentially a number of issues relating to your ticket. Some issues are jurisdictional, procedural or problems with the speed measuring device (radar or laser). If the judge grants my motion, the case would be dismissed. I also can negotiate that your ticket be reduced to a “non-moving” violation that will not appear on your traffic record or be reported to the Department of Licensing.Traffic infractions are decriminalized and are not criminal matters.

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So who needs a traffic attorney?

Posted Friday, October 21, 2016 by Andrew Charles Huff

Well, probably anyone who has received a traffic ticket and wants to keep it off their record. And that is the key…to keep the ticket off one’s record. But do all tickets end up on your driving record? Not quite. State law mandates that “moving violations” be reported to the Department of Licensing and therefore ending up on driving records. These records are the ones that insurance companies have access to and can result in a rate increase or if too many tickets appear, then potentially being dropped from coverage.

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5-Hour Energy too Deceptive for Washington AG

Posted Friday, October 21, 2016 by Andrew Charles Huff

The makers of 5-hour ENERGY® violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act by making claims in thousands of ads that were not backed by scientific evidence, according to a ruling filed in King County Superior Court.

After a three week trial that ended in early September, King County Superior Court Judge Beth Andrus agreed with Attorney General Bob Ferguson that advertising campaigns and press releases by the companies that produce 5-hour ENERGY® — Living Essentials LLC and Innovation Ventures LLC — were misleading.

Ferguson filed the lawsuit in July of 2014 against the makers of 5-hour ENERGY®, a popular flavored energy shot sold in 1.93 oz. containers. The Attorney General’s Office alleged they deceived consumers with ads claiming that doctors recommend 5-hour ENERGY®; that the product is superior to coffee because its “energy blend” interacts in a “synergistic” way with caffeine to make the energy and alertness associated with caffeine last longer; and that Decaf 5-hour ENERGY® provides consumers with energy, alertness and focus that lasts for hours.

“The makers of 5-hour ENERGY® misled consumers in pursuit of profit,” Ferguson said. “They broke the law, and they will be held accountable for their deception.”

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Free Speech v. Courtroom Decorum

Posted Friday, October 21, 2016 by Andrew Charles Huff

When does your right to Free Speech end when you walk through a courthouse door? Washington Court of Appeals-Division III recently decided that it at least ends when a judge is no longer able to do his or her job. This was the issue taken up by Mr. Dennis Patterson, who appealed his convictions for disorderly conduct and interference with a court.

Last year, Mr. Patterson and several others gathered in the courtroom of a judge they did not believe held the authority to judge anyone. As the Judge entered the courtroom, Mr. Patterson remained standing and began to loudly read a prepared statement. He continued doing so despite repeated warnings, causing the judge to declare a recess and ordering Mr. Patterson to leave. Eventually, he was told to leave or he would be charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct. He refused to do so and was arrested. The entire interruption delayed court proceedings by 20 minutes.

Patterson argued a provision of the disorderly conduct statute was overbroad and infringed on his protected speech. He argued the State presented insufficient evidence of his intent to disrupt or interfere with court proceedings.Washington’s disorderly conduct statute makes it a misdemeanor to engage in four proscribed forms of speech and/or conduct. The provision at issue here is whether he “Intentionally disrupt(ed) any lawful assembly or meeting of persons without lawful authority.”

However, the court determined that a rational trier of fact could have found that Mr. Patterson acted with the intent and his right to free speech was not infringed.

No. 33814-2-111 State v. Patterson

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