March 27, 2023

Medical “Molly”?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week approved the 3rd and final trial stage to determine whether or not the FDA will approve MDMA (the primary ingredient in Ecstasy or “Molly”) to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Many veterans and not a few of my clients are diagnosed with PTSD as a result of traumatic experiences they have suffered.  I’ve defended clients who’ve been caught possessing or dealing MDMA so I found this news story both fascinating and alarming.  Currently the penalty in Washington for possessing MDMA, a class C felony, is zero to six months in jail (but can be higher if the accused has more than two previous felony convictions)  According to James Mathey, PA-C Heart & Vascular Peace Health Southwest, “methamphetamine abuse is highly associated with cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure.”  MDMA is 3,4-methlenedoxymethamphetamine, however Mathey notes “the dosing and frequency of meth usage necessary to cause heart damage has never been thoroughly studied.”  Sadly he “daily” treats people of all ages in Vancouver who’ve inflicted this damage through meth use.

Nevertheless, as medical marijuana, has now transitioned from illegal to “medical marijuana” to legal recreational marijuana in Washington, Molly is now poised to become “medical MDMA” as early as 2021.  Perhaps it will be as one former client told me over lunch last week: it may be legal but you’re not going to get a job as an electrician with a dirty UA.

For more information on the clinical trials and Molly’s path to Medical Molly, check out: _r=0


Anatomy of an Assault

On the evening of June 17, 2015 Mr. Cameron and Deana Lentz sat in the dark, next to a trail, conversing while music played.  The trail ran from Mr. Sommerville’s tent to Fred Meyers between Pearson Air Field and Highway 14.  Mr. Sommerville (Gary), who’d that night learned Mr. Cameron was back, armed himself with a hoe handle and a knife, before walking by and saying “Let’s go Dee.”  Mr. Cameron protested with, can’t a guy talk to his girlfriend to which Gary responded don’t you mean your ex-girlfriend.  The conversation deteriorated from there and Gary (who’d previously been convicted of a crime of dishonesty) testified that:

  • Cameron threatened to kill him.
  • He walked away holding Deana’s hand after Cameron’s death threat (i.e. making no effort to run or hide) but told her to run as Mr. Cameron approached and she was 50-75’ down the trail when the fight ensued.
  • He swung his hoe handle first and multiple times at Mr. Cameron (though he denied d hitting him)
  • Cameron hit him with a 40-pound weight bar causing a compound fracture to his right hand (and causing him to drop the hoe handle) and three cuts on his head (the longest of which was photographed by police after being stapled shut at Peace Health and presented as an exhibit to the jury)

On June 18, Mr. Cameron wrote his version of events for the police, which the jury was able to read because it was marked as a State’s Exhibit:  “My girlfriend and I got into an argument she went out on the trail from tent I went out in 5 min.  We were listening to music.  Red [Gary] came up behind us with a shovel handle and threatening to hit me.  I asked him to leave 5 times, my girlfriend started walking down the trail Red then hit me with the shovel handle in the hand we wrestled then he hit me in the ear with his shovel handle.  I went out in a seizure.  I came to and went down the trail because my girl was yelling saying stay away.  I feared for my life.  I feared for my girl too so I went to protect her.  I hit him in self-defense with a stick.  I hit him two times that I know of.”

Deana Lentz, who initially dated Mr. Cameron prior to his going to jail for a couple weeks, and subsequently dated Mr. Sommerville testified to the following:

  • She did not include the death threat in her rendition of the event.
  • She walked away holding Gary’s hand and was standing right there, 1-5’ from the action as the fight unfolded.
  • She did not see Gary swing his small bamboo walking stick at Mr. Cameron.
  • Cameron hit him with a 60-pound weight bar.

Sommerville, Lentz and police agreed that no blood was found at the scene of the fight, nor was a blood trail found, though Mr. Sommerville was bleeding profusely from the head when flagging down motorists at the Columbia House gore point onto Highway 14.


The defense asserted 25 reasons for doubt and highlighted 7 inconsistencies between Gary and Deana’s testimony.  The defense emphasized Gary’s only photographed head injury showed neither the bruising nor swelling that one would expect a weight bar to cause; asserted Gary’s motive for making his claim was: get the girl and avoid jail.  The defense highlighted Gary’s admission that he’d cut himself before going back to jail.  The defense pointed out that Deana overheard Gary telling police about the weight bar, thus explaining why both would make this claim & concluded with what are the chances that a long heavy weight bar landed all injuries within the narrow confines of Gary’s Mohawk?

On January 8, 2016, following over five hours of deliberations the jury returned verdicts of:

“Not Guilty” of Assault in the First Degree (Class A felony, strike offense)

“Not Guilty” of Assault in the Second Degree (Class B felony, strike offense)

“Guilty” of Assault in the Fourth Degree, (Gross Misdemeanor), and

“Guilty” of Felony Harassment-Death Threat.

I suspect the jury reasoned:

  1. It was not 1st degree Assault because the State simply didn’t prove grievous bodily harm and further disbelieved the use of a “weight bar” (i.e. a metal bar swung as a club = deadly weapon which would be capable of producing death) to cause these injuries.
  2. Although defendant fractured Gary’s hand, which qualifies by jury instruction definition as a 2nd degree Assault, Mr. Cameron did so in self-defense as Gary’s hand was struck causing him to drop the hoe handle that fractured Cameron’s finger (a fracture testified to by physician’s assistant).
  3. Even though Mr. Cameron was justified in striking him, he wasn’t justified in striking him in the head after he knocked the hoe handle from his hand when fracturing Gary’s right hand; and
  4. Even though Deana Lentz didn’t testify about the death threat, neither side asked her about it, and in the context of what each side said, it made sense that Mr. Cameron made this statement.

By rejecting the State’s 8-year offer for an Assault in the 2nd Degree plea, and risking 28 years if a jury found him guilty of Assault in the 1st Degree, Mr. Cameron (with an offender score of 9) was sentenced to 5 years in prison less credit time already served based on the Felony Harassment.  Judge Stahnke ran his 364 days on the Assault in the 4th degree time run concurrent (meaning it will be served at the same time) and with good time Mr. Cameron should be free by Christmas 2018.

Media coverage by The Columbian here.

How does today’s Supreme Court ruling effect you and your cellphone

Supreme Court Protects Cell Phones


Question: May police, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested?

In April 2014, the Supreme Court heard two fact patterns that raised this common question:

1st Case: Police searching Riley incident to the arrest seized a cell phone from Riley’s pants pocket. The Officer noticed the repeated use of a term associated with a street gang, a second officer specializing in gangs viewed the phone. Based in part on photographs and videos that the detective found, the State charged Riley in connection with a shooting that had occurred a few weeks earlier and sought an enhanced sentence based on Riley’s gang membership

2nd Case: Officers seized a cell phone from Wurie’s person and noticed that the phone was receiving multiple calls from a source identified as “my house” on its external screen. The officers opened the phone, accessed its call log, determined the number associated with the “my house” label, and traced that number to what they suspected was Wurie’s apartment. They secured a search warrant and found drugs, a firearm and ammunition, and cash in the ensuing search. Wurie was then charged with drug and firearm offenses.

Answer: And on June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States Held: The police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.

Legal Advice: Be careful what you put in your phone because the Court’s holding is not that the information on a cell phone is immune from search; it is that a warrant is generally required before a search and police can use other information (just not digital content from your phone) to seek a warrant to view the contents of your phone which may prove a treasure trove of evidence for the Prosecution.

8,336 Reasons to Call Vancouver Cab

How Much Does a DUI really cost?

Photo (2)

Base Costs for a DUI*

$595.00            Fine (mandatory minimum of $940.50 on WA DUI Grid includes $343.50 below)

$  43.00            Conviction Fee/Court Improvement Fee

$200.00            Emergency Response Cost (or actual costs up to $2,500)

$200.00            BAC fee

$102.50            Traffic Penalty Assessment

$ 75.00             Victim’s Impact Panel

$ 60.00             Evaluation for Chemical Dependency (ranges up to $200 depending on agency)

$ 75.00             Alcohol Drug Information School (min. treatment needed to get license reinstated)

$150.00            Driver’s License reissue fee

$118.47            Ignition Interlock Installation (some newer models & hybrids cost an addt’l $50)

$1,048.56         Ignition Interlock (one-year mandatory minimum for first time DUI conviction)

$300.00            SR22 Insurance (estimate of increased premium, varies by driving record)


Potential Extra Costs:

$   314              City of Vancouver Filing Fee

$   100              City of Vancouver Emergency Response Cost is $100 more than the County

$   225              Electronic Home Confinement (if permitted in lieu of one-day jail)

$1,000              Passenger under 16

$1,300              Out-Patient Treatment (26 weeks of weekly classes $50/per class)

$   105              Random UA’s (average of three per customer at $35/per UA).

$2,400              Probation Fee of $100/mo. which ends when all conditions are met.

$   375              DOL Hearing Request


Legal Services:

$1,500-2,500     Hiring at Attorney (prices vary) / Court-Appointed Attorney fee is $150



Base Costs:      $2,967.53

Legal Costs:     $2,000.00

Extra Costs**:  $3,369.00

Total Costs:      $8,336.03***




*First Offense with a BAC Reading of greater than .08 but less than .15 (Refusals and > .15 cost more)

**Many Vancouver WA DUI Convictions

***$8,336.03 buys a lot of cab rides.  So let a professional cab driver from Vancouver Cab get you safely home tonight.  ~ W. Todd Pascoe


Compiled by W. Todd Pascoe and Gregory S Cheney 6/2014 (sources of information include: Anchor Point; Clark County Corrections; Clark County District Court; Guardian Interlock Systems; Revised Code of Washington)

Police Targeting Cell Phone Use by Drivers, April 10 – 15, 2014

Texting While Driving
First it was Tim McGraw’s “Highway Don’t Care” on 99.5 the Wolf.  Next it was the Ad Council’s billboard (pictured); and this week’s it’s your local police echoing the angst ridden bumper sticker: “Hang Up and Drive.”


If you’ve been slow to listen and quick to talk, this blog’s for you:  Police Targeting Cell Phone Use by Drivers, April 10 – 15, 2014.

Vancouver Police and Clark County Sheriff’s Officers, not to mention Washington State Patrol and many other law enforcement agencies will be targeting distracted drivers who are committing traffic infractions by talking or texting on their hand-held cellular phone.  This is all part of a concerted national campaign with the slogan, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”
Specifcally Washington Law states:

 “a person operating a moving motor vehicle while holding a wireless communications device to his or her ear is guilty of a traffic infraction…”

Exceptions include:

·         Using your hand-held phone to:

o   Report Illegal Activity

o   Call for Medical help

o   Call for emergency help

o   Prevent injury to a person or property (think reporting the swerving driver in front of you)

·         An infraction for this will cost you money, but will not:

o   Appear on your driving record

o   Be reported to your insurance company.

If you need any advice because you didn’t heed RCW 46.61.667, Tim McGraw, or this local lawyer’s blog, then contact us today.

Of potentially greater significance is if you’re distracted driving leads to an injury or death, you can be charged with Vehicular Assault or Vehicular Homicide (both felonies that we handle, but hope you never need our services for).


Memorable Speech, Clean Record

More than a decade ago my client gave the “Gettysburg Address” of marijuana speeches. I’ve never forgotten it and enjoyed reminiscing with the court clerk who still remembered it too. But earlier this month I stood in the same courtroom and heard something less eloquent but much superior as the Judge granted my motion to vacate the conviction. This closes the door on a mistake that would have haunted this professional to be, but now, as the court order states, “[f]or all purposes, including responding to question on employment applications, the defendant may state that he or she has never been convicted of the offense”. For many cases it’s not too late to grab victory from the jaws of defeat.

#Vacating Record; Expungement; Criminal Record; Manufacture Marijuana; Growing Marijuana


DOL Licenses Border Scofflaws, Suspends Traffic Scofflaws

Washington issues driver’s licenses to undocumented aliens, while withholding the privilege from those who fail to pay a speeding ticket. 

In 2011, legislators tried but failed to change this policy.  Since the Hispanic vote was seen as pivotal in the 2012 presidential victory of Barrack Obama, the policy trend is widening, as 9 other states give licenses regardless of immigration status (CO, CT, OR, MD, NM, NV, RI, UT, VT); and 11 states (including CA and TX) are considering bills to become like Washington; while just 2 states (AZ, NB) refuse licenses to young undocumented immigrants or anyone in the country illegally.  The rationale is simple: a licensed driver is more likely to be an insured driver which benefits everyone when an accident occurs; while not suspending for unpaid traffic fines would reduce revenue by removing the major incentive to pay one’s fines—thus the law makes sense even while causing political heartburn in some quarters.  Driving While License Suspended (DWS) is the most common criminal charge in Clark County WA, as police officers routinely run license plate numbers through the laptop computer in their car to determine if the registered owner of the vehicle is suspended.  If stopped, give your real name as giving a false name can lead to a more serious criminal charge called Obstructing or even the felony of Criminal Impersonation.    First Degree DWS carries mandatory jail time.   Second Degree DWS carry a one year license suspension and under some circumstances a mandatory 30-day confinement period.  Third Degree DWS tickets are routinely reduced to an infraction if the driver reinstates their driving privilege within a reasonable period of time.  To sign up for the Driver’s Restoration Program, which began in Clark County and has helped thousands regain the right to drive, call Clark County Corrections at 360.397.2436.

Sources: Seattle Times / National Immigration Law Center          

Washington Passes “Good Samaritan” Law

Those under 21 who call for medical help for a drunk friend — and the friend — won’t face minor-in-possession-of-alcohol charges under a bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee this spring.
The law, approved by the Legislature last month, is meant to encourage minors to call 911 by removing the fear of prosecution. It follows a similar law for drug overdoses passed in 2010.
By expanding the law to cover alcohol, Washington has joined a growing list of states that have embraced the policy, sometimes over stark opposition due to fears it could encourage underage drinking.
Twelve states have now passed alcohol “good Samaritan” laws since Colorado approved the first one in 2005, according to The Medical Amnesty Initiative, a national nonprofit established last year to boost the policy.

Read more at the Columbian:

The Miranda Warning: Knowing your rights

Anyone who has ever watched a crime show on television probably will have heard the Miranda warning or some variation of it: “You have the right to remain silent…etc.” However, you might not know that the Miranda warning exists outside the realm of television, in real life. In fact, it is an integral part of an American citizen’s legal rights, designed to protect a person who has been accused, but not convicted, of a crime. But what is the Miranda warning, and how is it applied?

The Miranda warning originates from the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona case. The suspect, Ernesto Miranda, confessed to committing a crime while being questioned by police. He was not informed by the police questioning him that he had the right to remain silent or that he had the right to an attorney during the questioning. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, who ruled that Miranda’s Fifth Amendment right (the right not to incriminate oneself in a crime) had been violated, and that his statements could not be used as evidence. (Later Miranda was tried again with new evidence not obtained from his questioning and convicted.)
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Wrongful Termination: What is it? What are my options?

In the current economy, the job market can often be harsh. Unfortunately, many Americans have lost their jobs, and many businesses have performed lay-offs or dismissed employees. Most businesses practice care to ethically dismiss employees. But what about those that don’t?

Washington is an at-will state, which means that an employer may dismiss an employee for any reason beyond those prohibited by state and federal law. This is the standard employment agreement in Washington, unless there is an implied or explicit contract between the employer and employee that permits dismissal only for identified reasons. (For more information about employment practices prohibited by state and federal law, read our blog post “Discrimination in Employment”).
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