Impartiality is a myth. So the idea that you will start with an impartial jury or fact finder (maybe a Judge) misses the mark. We all have inherent bias and prejudice that colors our decision making. All of us.

Let’s start with a simple example involving cars. I have a bias (or preference) in favor of Westfalia vans and Porsche 911s. The two are polar opposites – sexy German sports car and utilitarian German fun wagon. If I had both in my garage I would be a happy camper. Over time I have had both but modern automobiles have taken my eyes away from each. So too the two grandkids I cart around daily.

Continue Reading Start with Bias and Prejudice – your story must deal with these or you lose!

Slate Magazine has done a great job recounting what happened at Ruby Ridge in its Podcast Standoff. Listening now and remembering how life can turn in an instant. Want the inside story? Ron Howen, Gerry Spence and others tell the story from their viewpoint. Episode 4 tells how the FBI held back the most important evidence in the case, Lon Horiuchi’s drawing of what he saw when he fired the shot that killed Vicki Weaver. I spent a couple hours being interviewed last summer and it brought back so many memories. You can start the series here, and hear my story in Episode 4. The picture below was taken when David Nevin and I went to Ruby Ridge after the trial Sam Donaldson from ABC.

Boise State University Professor Dr. Greg Hampikian is a  Biologist whose work has identified persons wrongly accused and convicted of crimes. He is regarded as one of the foremost forensic DNA experts in the United States and beyond. He is the founder of the Idaho Innocence Project, which, along with other state Innocence Projects, has helped to clear hundreds of persons wrongly convicted. Those convictions have often been based on faulty science and false confessions. So when he tells us that DNA testing at crime labs is suspect and results may be misleading, we should pay attention.

Dr. Hampikian’s op-ed in the New York Times yesterday should sound a bell for any person who faces criminal charges supported by DNA test results. Dr. Hampikian reports that in a recent reliability study, 74 out of 108 crime laboratories implicated an innocent person in a hypothetical bank robbery.

Continue Reading There’s A Problem With DNA Testing At Crime Labs – They Often Get It Wrong.

Yesterday I posted about Idaho’s tough marijuana laws.  Is Idaho any closer to legalizing marijuana-based products? How about cannabidiol (CBD) oil? I don’t think so.

It seems like every week I receive an email solicitation offering to sell me CBD oil, ordered online and delivered by mail to my home or office.  Each such offering indicates that CBD oil is a lawful product in all states, including Idaho. I am not so certain.

Continue Reading There’s a problem if you buy CBD oil in Idaho – it may be a crime.

Idaho’s Marijuana Laws Are Tough – Maybe Even Unfair!

I spent time yesterday driving to and from a rural courthouse in Western Idaho for a hearing on a marijuana case. The charge – felony possession of marijuana – arises out of a car having been stopped near the Oregon border during early morning hours for traveling too slowly. That’s right, too slowly. Officers claim they smelled marijuana, and the Oregon driver admitted the illegal weed was on board. As the amount exceeded 3 ounces, the client faced a felony, with the possibility of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Continue Reading Idaho’s Marijuana Laws Are Tough!

In 2016 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Wilson v. Lynch (9th Cir. Case No. 14-15799) that medical marijuana cardholders are prohibited from purchasing firearms based on federal regulations.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) sent an Open Letter to gun dealers in 2011 stating that, “If you are aware that the potential transferee is in possession of a card authorizing the possession and use of marijuana under State law, then you have ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that the person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance. As such, you may not transfer firearms or ammunition to the person.”

Continue Reading That Medical Marijuana Card Can Prevent You From Buying A Gun!

I frequently get this question – “how can they charge me with rape? She said she was 19!” The answer is simple, a representation of the age of an apparently consenting person means nothing!

Bupkis! Nada! Absolutely nothing! What matters is the age of the person – that is – the ACTUAL age.

Continue Reading “She said she was 19. How can I be charged with RAPE?”

Among the changes to Idaho law taking effect on July 1, 2018, is an important clarification of when you can and cannot use deadly force to defend yourself, others or perhaps, your “habitation.”  The newest version of Idaho Code 18-4009 lays out the places and people you have a right to defend with deadly force. Previously Idaho focused on one’s home as a place to protect with deadly force. The law now spells out your right to use deadly force – if necessary – to your place of work and your occupied vehicle.

Continue Reading Stand Your Ground – when, where and who?

Idaho’s law protecting a person acting in self-defense gets clarified by the passage of Senate Bill 1313 – which goes into effect July 1st. The real impact is to consolidate and codify existing law to clearly protect the inherent right of a person to defend themselves and others. Idaho law permits a law-abiding citizen to stand their ground and protect themselves and families anywhere they have a right to be. SB 1313 also protects the right of a person to defend against intruders who enter the defender’s home or business unlawfully or by force, without having to demonstrate that he or she reasonably feared the intruder was about to cause death or great bodily harm. The entry by unlawful force establishes that the defender’s fear of serious injury was reasonable, so the use of self-defense was likewise reasonable.

There is a lot of debate about restrictions on gun ownership and use across the land, but Idaho remains committed to the notion that self-defense, including the use of firearms and deadly force, is a reasonable response to an unlawful attack on you or your family. The law doesn’t really change anything, but it clarifies the right to stand your ground in the face of an intrusion or attack on you or your family. The law had the backing of law enforcement and prosecutors.