Category Archives: Washington

Washington

How’s the Air Quality in your State?

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Have you ever noticed a haze in your area and wondered if it’s just fog or unhealthy smog? Smog can be created by a weather condition known as a “temperature inversion,” where the cool air in a valley is trapped by a layer of warmer air above. Temperature inversions prevent the normal release of emissions into the atmosphere thus trapping pollutants at ground level. According to an article by Paul Foy, of The Associated Press, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found the greater Salt Lake City region as having the worst air in the nation during the month … Read More

Gun Control Laws

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The laws concerning gun ownership have probably never been discussed more than in the week following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012. There are many complex issues related to gun ownership and gun control laws such as background checks, waiting periods, mental health, concealed weapons, and the sale of assault weapons.

According to a December 19, 2012, article by Adam Liptak, The New York Times, all 50 states and the District of Columbia require background checks on prospective buyers with each individual state being responsible for laws concerning gun ownership. According to the article, seven … Read More

Going to Court by Mail

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Court systems continue to develop new ways of streamlining their procedures to reduce their expenses and backlog, and to improve customer service. Last year we noted the rise of telephonic court appearances for self-represented parties in some types of hearings. But “phoning it in” isn’t the only way to avoid a trip to the courthouse. In some areas, it is now possible to contest your traffic ticket by mail.

While telephone hearings are limited to routine motions that don’t require presentation of evidence or sworn testimony, traffic ticket mail contests are the real thing: the determination of guilt or innocence. … Read More

Boy Scout Alleged Sex Abusers

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On October 18, 2012, Kelly Clark, an Oregon attorney, released an online database of the names of over 1200 Scout volunteers accused of sexual abuse between the years of 1965 and 1985. The list was referred to by the Scouts as the “Ineligible Volunteer Files” or “Perversion Files.”

In the October 19, 2012, article by Maureen O’Hagan, Seattle Times staff reporter, entitled “Files on alleged Boy Scout sex abusers go public,” it was reported that the Boy Scouts said in a prepared statement that “the list was a way to keep Scouts safe.” According to the article, the Scout organization … Read More

Are You Registered to Vote?

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With the upcoming presidential election, it is more important than ever to register to vote. Traditionally, registering to vote required a paper application, either mailed or delivered to the County Courthouse. However, a number of states are now offering online voter registration.

On September 19, 2012, the State of California launched a new online voter registration system. According to the September 20, 2012, article by Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, there are 6.5 million California residents that are eligible to vote but have not registered. The California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen hopes that the new system will ensure greater … Read More

For Whom the Bridge Tolls…the fiction of appealing a fine in the new Washington state Toll Courts?

Imagine receiving a penalty notice for unpaid toll bridge fees totaling hundreds of dollars. Then imagine disputing those fees in one of two new toll courts in Washington state, only to discover that the likelihood of fine dismissal is practically nil. Since the toll courts opened their doors in May 2012, 75% of drivers who attempted to challenge their fines have lost. Doesn’t that figure imply some fundamental flaw in the toll court system?

In a word, no. The new Washington toll courts have granted their administrative judges very limited discretion in reviewing appeals. The only judicial options available to … Read More

Public Defender standards enacted by the Washington State Supreme Court

In June 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court directed the state’s public defenders to limit their caseloads and certify compliance with the new numerical standards on a quarterly basis.  With the goal of improving the quality of legal representation for indigent defendants, the Court has adopted standards that were formerly considered advisory and largely unenforceable.  But by imposing a cap on the number and type of cases a public defender can handle, the Court has burdened local government with potentially devastating costs, as cities and counties in Washington state currently contract for their defender services.   With already strained budgets, how … Read More

Washington State Supreme Court adopts rule allowing non-lawyers to provide limited legal services

Based upon an administrative order approved by the Washington State Supreme Court on June 15, 2012, non-lawyers may offer limited assistance on simple legal matters.  The Court adopted the proposed Admission to Practice (APR) Rule 28, the “Limited Practice Rule for Limited License Legal Technicians” to expand access to legal services for low and moderate income individuals in Washington state.  As the order states:

“Every day across this state, thousands of unrepresented (pro se) individuals seek to resolve important legal matters in our courts.  Many of these are low income people who seek but cannot obtain Read More

What are the candidates spending on their campaigns?

As you well know, there are a number of candidates running for office this year with the presidential and other national races generating the most attention. Every few days there are stories or reports about candidates including campaign financing and spending.

The Seattle Times ran an article on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, entitled, “Ron Paul done spending on primaries,” by Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times. The article stated that Ron Paul had announced that he would stop spending money on the Republican party’s 11 remaining primaries, effectively ending his campaign. One day later, on Wednesday, May 16th, Ron Paul’s campaign … Read More

Family Dependency Treatment Courts

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Problem-Solving Courts – also known as Accountability Courts – are programs developed by many court systems to impose treatment plans and other forms of rehabilitation on some criminal offenders who would otherwise face jail time and the stigma of a criminal record. They reduce the judicial system caseload and the prison population while helping offenders with drug, mental health, and similar problems. We covered Mental Health Courts in April 2008, Drug Courts in October 2008, and Veterans Courts in January 2011.

Family Dependency Treatment Courts are another type of Accountability Court, and they’re different in that their treatment plans include … Read More