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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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Magnets Attract Higher Sentence

Posted Thursday, October 20, 2016 by Andrew Charles Huff

Can regular household items be turned into tools useful to defeat a security system? This was the question recently considered by Washington Appellate Court- Division Three in the case of State of Washington v. Casey Wade.

Mr. Wade challenges his conviction for third degree retail theft, contending the magnets and key used to defeat Wal-Mart’s security devices did not constitute a device designed to defeat a security system.

Wade was arrested for shoplifting from a Wal-Mart store after magnets were discovered allowing him to open the security cases protecting video games. This led the prosecutor to allege special circumstances because the magnets were considered an “item, article, implement, or device designed to overcome security systems.”

Mr. Wade argued that these magnets were simply a common item and not specifically made to defeat security devices. Further, he claimed that magnets such as these have many other uses other than to open secured cases, and therefore is not an “item, article, implement, or device designed to overcome security systems.”

However, the court found that Mr. Wade had 35 magnets and arranged them strategically along the security box, making it easy to open the locked box. In other words, sufficient evidence that even household items can turned into such a tool.

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Is a Riding Lawn Mower Considered a Vehicle?

Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by Andrew Charles Huff

Is a lawnmower considered a motor vehicle? This question recently appeared before our Court of Appeals when considering the motor vehicle theft statute.

A couple recently had their Craftsman, gas-powered self-propelled riding lawnmower stolen near Leavenworth. The defendant was immediately caught and subsequently charged with Theft of a Motor Vehicle.

But the issue that came up was whether a riding lawnmower is considered a “vehicle” under this theft statute. It’s clear that an item was in fact stolen, but was it legally considered a “vehicle”? The Court said no, it was not. The defendant could be charged with another theft crime, but under the applicable statute not of a “motor vehicle.”

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