Attorney Gregger Highberg won a not-guilty verdict in Clark County District Court for a client accused of assaulting a roommate.
The May 24 verdict meant his 25-year-old client not only avoided a conviction for misdemeanor assault, but was able to accept a job offer that had been pending the outcome of her case.
At the time of her arrest, the client had been renting one floor of a three-floor townhome from the alleged victim and his wife. The alleged victim’s wife called 911 at approximately 11 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2020, and said her husband had been in an argument with their roommate and he was bleeding from his face.
Deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office interviewed Highberg’s client, the alleged victim and his wife. They learned the alleged victim and his wife had been drinking all day, and our client had joined them in the evening. At some point Highberg’s client and the alleged victim started arguing; the client told deputies the alleged victim called her a racial slur and demanded she leave.
She said the alleged victim swung at her twice, missing both times, and in self-defense she picked up a bottle of Jameson Whiskey and threw it in his direction. She said she did not mean to hit him, but the bottle connected with his head, causing a laceration described as between one and two inches long. It ended up requiring five staples and he was diagnosed with a concussion.
Had Highberg’s client been convicted, the alleged victim could have asked to be reimbursed the cost of his medical bills.
Washington lost the distinction of having one of the strictest drug laws in the nation on Thursday, when the state Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.
In a 5-4 decision, the state’s high court said the state’s strict liability law for felony drug possession went beyond the state’s policing power.
The ruling, State V. Blake, was in a case out of Spokane County. A defendant arrested for a non-drug crime was searched at the county jail, and a corrections officer found a small baggie of methamphetamine in a coin pocket of her jeans. At trial, she used a “those weren’t my pants” defense. Her attorney said it was a case of unwitting possession. The defendant testified a friend had given her the jeans two days prior to her arrest, and had bought them at a secondhand store.
Prosecutors did not prove that the defendant had known the drugs were in her pocket.
Under state law, possession of a controlled substance is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. A person found guilty can also be ordered to pay a substantial fine and, as a convicted felon, lose rights and opportunities, the court noted.
“This case presents an issue of first impression for the court,” wrote Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud in the majority opinion. “Does this strict liability drug possession statute with these substantial penalties for such innocent, passive conduct exceed the legislature’s police power? The due process clauses of the state and federal constitutions, along with controlling decisions of this court and the United States Supreme Court, compel us to conclude that the answer is yes – this exceeds the State’s police power.”