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Corrupt Detroit Mayor's Trial Continues

Posted Monday, January 7, 2013 by Andrew Charles Huff

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, elected at 31 years of age with great hopes of turning around a troubled city, is instead entering the midway point through a federal racketeering trial. Kilpatrick, his father Bernard and best friend Bobby Ferguson are charged with a variety of crimes including demanding kickbacks for city contracts, illegal use of political donations, accepting illegal gifts, all with intent of enriching themselves immensely.

Politicians have been accused of taking bribes since the beginning of time. What makes this case even more unfortunate is so many residents of that beleaguered city had such high hopes for Kilpatrick, an attorney who served in the State Legislature before running for Mayor. Kilpatrick had that rare combination of an outgoing personality, intelligence and city-wide connections, friends and family. On the campaign trail, he promised to empower citizens, urban renewal, new hotels and casinos, and actually made some progress early on in his administration. But after having an affair with his chief-of-staff and lying about it under oath, he pled guilty, prompting further investigations that led to a host of federal charges alleging a “criminal enterprise” within the Mayor’s Office.

As the trial continues, Detroit is on the brink of absolute collapse and citizens once again point the finger at those elected to office, those charged with managing and productively using our tax money, building a better city for tomorrow, and helping those in need. For those remaining residents of the Motor City, hope for the future is not looking good. But I also know those citizens are capable of turning that city around despite what appears to be a very corrupt administration.

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WSP to Switch Breath Testing Machines

Posted Friday, December 21, 2012 by Andrew Charles Huff

There is currently only one evidentiary breath test instrument approved for use in the State of Washington by law enforcement…the BAC DataMaster, manufactured by National Patent Analytical Systems located in Mansfield Ohio. These devices are used to test those arrested for Driving Under the Influence of their blood-alcohol amount to determine whether they are .08 or above, the legal limit in Washington.
However, the Washington State Patrol recently announced they will be switching to an entirely new breath testing instrument, replacing the DataMaster. This new instrument is the Alcotest 9510, manufactured by a German company Dräger or “The Draeger,” as it will be known here.The State Patrol has already purchased 67 of the machines and Draeger is currently developing software to meet WSP’s requirements and to comply with RCW 46.61.506. This statute provides the minimum foundational requirements for a breath test reading to be admitted in court. Each of these machines cost $10,000 each and 253 will be needed, costing the State approximately $3.2 million to just replace these machines. Say nothing of the additional work hour costs needed to implement this changeover, although the amount is still unknown at this point. Legal challenges will most likely occur on both compliance and accuracy issues and if the device is approved for use, thousands of law enforcement officers will have to be trained, as well as prosecutors and judges.

So what’s different about the Alcotest? To be honest, almost everything. For example, instead of using only infrared spectroscopy, this new machine also uses electrochemical analysis (EC). It essentially marries the IR technology of the DataMaster with the EC technology of a Portable Breath Test unit. However, the problem is when you combine two different technologies it doesn’t always work out in the end, like trying to put a diesel and a gas engine in the same automobile. Draeger appears to use a software fix to “solve” some of the problems associated with combining the two technologies, but this method essentially makes the EC analysis useless and negates the alleged benefits of Draeger’s promoted…dual alcohol sensor technology. Based on the high costs ahead and the high potential of legal challenges, it could be a rough road ahead as the State attempts to embrace a new technology in breath testing. Stay tuned.

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Happy Holidays Bellevue Police

Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012 by Andrew Charles Huff

So it seems like the place to raise some holiday cheer this year would be the Bellevue Police Department’s Holiday Party, including the famous “Pink Panty Droppers” cocktail made famous by the now infamous Bellevue Police Officers and crew. You have no doubt heard about this law enforcement party group being unceremoniously kicked out of a Seahawks game in September and then harassing a Seattle Police Officer, tossing around expletives along with some trash on the ground.Although the officers were disciplined and offered apologies for their behavior, the question in my mind is how does one truly enjoy a game after having consumed such a large quantity of pre-game refreshments, in this case a keg of beer, shots of whiskey and of course the infamous “Pink Panty Droppers,” a mixture surely to lead even the strictest code of conduct followers to places unknown.

Don’t get me wrong here. I went to a college over in Pullman known to have its’ share of beer bongs and tequila shots, or was it beer shots and tequila bongs? No matter since both were readily available. I was actually known for my famous tequila and eggs breakfast by my roommates. And yes I, or rather we attended many a football game there under the influence of much more than Cougar spirit. For what I can remember, every time game announcer Glen Johnson announced another “Cougar First Down,” we would all down a beer that we smuggled in, usually in places that should not be shared here.But I would simply offer those fellow officers the same advice I would give anyone. That is if you engage in pre-game cheer that pushes the limit similar to how Marshawn Lynch pushes for a first down, then avoid the men and women in blue. And if that is unavoidable, then at least offer to buy them a post-game drink.

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Legalize Marijuana? It's About Time.

Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2012 by Andrew Charles Huff

Voters in our state recently decided to legalize the possession and use of marijuana with restrictions, allowing the state to tax and regulate it. As a criminal defense attorney, my response’s about time. I say this for a number of reasons. First, my experience has shown me that very few crimes, if any, are the result of marijuana use, whether it be Driving Under the Influence, domestic violence, assault, etc. Alcohol and other drugs including prescription medication are the primary causes of drug-induced criminal behavior. I cannot tell you how many times assaults, whether they are bar fights or domestic situations, have been caused by alcohol. Marijuana-related crimes aside from simple possession or distribution just do not exist, with some limited exceptions, of course.

Law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys across the state have used so much of their limited resources jailing and prosecuting people guilty of simple possession of marijuana when their efforts are needed elsewhere. To their credit, many prosecutors are now dismissing simple possession charges in light of the new law. I suspect many are breathing a collective sigh of relief as well now that these cases are no longer taking up space in courtrooms.

Many are asking questions about how counties and cities should deal with people who choose to use marijuana legally and how it should be regulated. The answer is simple. Treat it just like alcohol. Parents should educate their kids about it in the same manner as they do alcohol. Government should assume the same role in educating the public about abuse as they do with alcohol, and of course the revenue derived from regulating and taxing marijuana should be the same as alcohol.
Prohibition, history has shown us, rarely has worked. And in the case of a plant already used by millions, legalization will not result in a run to the nearest head shop. The reason is people who want to use marijuana probably already are. Decriminalizing and regulating it like alcohol not only will relieve precious law and justice resources, but from a societal perspective simply makes sense.

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Campaign for Washington Attorney General STINKS

Posted Thursday, November 1, 2012 by Andrew Charles Huff

As a practicing criminal defense attorney, I have met the two candidates for Washington Attorney General a number of times over the years. Both Bob Ferguson and Reagan Dunn are intelligent, qualified and hard working attorneys who ironically are both members of the King County Council. Both bring different backgrounds and experiences to the current campaign for the state’s highest ranking attorney to succeed Rob McKenna. But if you have been following the campaign advertising, it simply stinks like rotten fish. Advertisements against both candidates have made claims of improper use of public funds, laziness on the job, protecting convicted criminals and (gasp) plea bargaining. These accusations are not only inaccurate, but unfairly portray each candidate in a false and deceiving light. Now, most of these ads are independent expenditures paid for by various groups not affiliated with each candidate. In other words, outside or 3rd party groups have paid for advertsising that have portrayed each candidate in a false and downright malicious light because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled they could…without any sort of spending limit. In this election, we have seen these independent ads air consistently against many different candidates. However, the Attorney General’s race has always been somewhat different in the past. I dare say that previous AG campaigns have been honorable, intelligent, respectful of the office. This year’s campaign has been anything but and has besmirched the office completely. I understand that both Dunn and Ferguson are unaffiliated with these ads and the groups supporting them. But there is nothing stopping each candidate from publicly disavowing these ads and requesting the supporting groups stop running them in our state. Otherwise, future campaigns for Attorney General will continue to wallow where this one is now…in the toilet. Gentlemen, you can do better.

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