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Legislators Looking at Interlock Options

Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2015 by Andrew Charles Huff

Washington state legislators are considering whether to give repeat DUI offenders the option of foregoing an interlock requirement if they promise not to drive. This option would apply when a court orders a defendant not to drive without the device while a case is pending. Breaking that promise can lead to arrest.

The legislation is intended to require alcohol monitoring if someone swears not to drive.

Seattle Municipal Court already uses a “declaration of non-driving,” and the change in state law would improve law enforcement’s ability to enforce those.The Legislature is currently examining several bills related to DUI enforcement this current extended session.

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Federal Judge Out of Patience with State

Posted Friday, April 3, 2015 by Andrew Charles Huff

A federal judge has found that Washington is violating the constitutional rights of some of its most vulnerable citizens by not providing the mentally ill with competency evaluations and treatment in a timely manner. As a result, people have been forced to wait for weeks or months in jail cells for competency services.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman issued a permanent injunction requiring the state to provide people with evaluations and treatment within seven days of a state judge’s order. And Pechman said she’ll appoint a monitor to make sure the state fixes the problem.

“Our jails are not suitable places for the mentally ill to be warehoused while they wait for services,” Pechman said in a written order. “Jails are not hospitals, they are not designed as therapeutic environments, and they are not equipped to manage mental illness or keep those with mental illness from being victimized by the general population of inmates.”

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New Jersey Senator Indicted on Corruption Charges

Posted Friday, April 3, 2015 by Andrew Charles Huff

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez has been indicted on federal corruption charges in connection with an ongoing investigation into his business dealings with a Florida doctor. The indictment charges Menendez with 14 counts, including bribery and conspiracy. The allegations stem from his ties to Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida optometrist and longtime friend.

The indictment states that Menendez accepted nearly $1 million worth of “lavish gifts” and campaign contributions from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to influence the outcome of ongoing contractual and Medicare billing disputes worth tens of millions of dollars to Melgen.

Menendez has denied the charges and stated he will fight them, predicting full vindication.

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Court Rules Abandoned Cell Phone was…well…Abandoned

Posted Thursday, March 26, 2015 by Andrew Charles Huff

A cell phone left in an abandoned stolen vehicle by the fleeing suspect can be used for identification without a warrant. This month the Court of Appeals in State v. Sutlej Samalia-Division Three, held that once a cell phone has clearly been abandoned by the owner, they no longer have an “expectation of privacy” in the device and therefore, a search warrant was not needed to search its database for evidence.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Decide on Confederate Flag License Plates

Posted Thursday, March 26, 2015 by Andrew Charles Huff

Can a vehicle’s specialty license plate still fly the Confederate flag …even in Texas? This week, the U.S, Supreme Court will consider whether prohibiting such specialty license plates violates First Amendment free speech rights.

Specialty license plate program are popular in all states but this is the first time the Justices will take up the issue of government establishing rules and private speech in regulating content. In Texas, the group “Sons of Confederate Veterans” applied for a plate featuring the Confederate flag but sued when denied. Texas will argue the speech is actually government speech, and the state has enough discretion over the message.

A decision in the case is expected by early summer.

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