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Seattle considers ‘poverty defense’ for misdemeanor crimes

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The Seattle City Council is considering a law that would excuse misdemeanor crimes if the offense can be linked to poverty, mental health, and addiction, KUOW-TV reported.

The proposal would allow judges and juries the option to dismiss misdemeanor crimes that were committed because of poverty or while a person was experiencing symptoms of a mental illness or substance abuse disorder.

The proposed legislation would exclude misdemeanors related to domestic violence and impaired driving.

If passed, it would make Seattle the first city in the nation to excuse misdemeanor offenses linked to poverty, addiction and mental illness.

“In a situation where you took that sandwich because you were hungry and you were trying to meet your basic need of satisfying your hunger, we as a community will know that we should not punish that. That conduct is excused,” Anita Khandelwal, King County director of public defense, told KUOW-TV.

Former Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess opposes the proposal and called it a “defense lawyer’s dream,” KOUW reported.

“It sends this powerful signal that as a city government, we don’t really care about this type of criminal behavior in our city,” Burgess said.

The Seattle Police Department said they will continue to hold those accountable who commit crimes and that the proposed legislation “seems intent on eliminating any accountability or deterrent to engaging in these behaviors and would endanger the safety and rights of all people of Seattle.”

In a statement to Seattle Times, the police department said “officers will continue to focus on holding individuals accountable who commit one of the thousands of assaults or thefts that occur in our community each year.”

This proposed legislation comes as crime rates in Seattle rise. Protests have been ongoing in the city, including the Capitol Hill Occupied Zone protests, which was an occupation protest and self-declared autonomous zone in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle that lasted 150 days.

Cities and states across the nation are reevaluating police policies as protests and demonstrators demand for change.

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Elections

Trump juror who was already sworn in fesses up, admits she cannot be ‘fair and unbiased’

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The latest scenario of one woman who has already been sworn in as a juror for former President Donald Trump’s trial is an indication of the complete improbability for a fair trial. Reporting from outside the New York City courthouse, MSNBC reporter Vaughn Hillyard explained the juror called the court to inform them that she did not know if she could actually be fair and impartial.

“She was asked to come to court this morning and went before the defense and went before the District Attorney’s office and answered questions about how she got to that conclusion” the reporter explains.

The juror discussed how she got calls, even yesterday, from friends, colleagues and family “questioning my identity as a juror.” She continued to say “I don’t believe I can be fair and unbiased and let the outside influences not affect me in the courtroom” the reporter quoted.

Hillyard’s report went on the emphasize the difficulty for these jurors in the next six to eight weeks because these are individuals who are supposed to be anonymous, yet we and the sides have some details about who these individuals are such as their neighborhoods and their occupations.

 

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