Topic: Pete Holmes
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December 4, 2013 at 5:26 PM
In what he called an effort to make legal pot successful, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes urged state officials to change the way they measure the 1,000-foot distance between pot businesses and prohibited areas frequented by youth.
Holmes also called for the state to increase the number of pot stores allocated to Seattle from 21 to 50. And he asked state officials to give preference in licensing to existing medical-marijuana facilities that show they can comply with rules for the new recreational-pot system.
Holmes was a sponsor of Initiative 502, the legal-weed law approved by voters last year. He said he was making “all these suggestions for the simple reason that, as a sponsor, I want to see I-502 be a success.” Without a more liberal interpretation of the 1,000-foot buffer and without more stores, Holmes said, the state risks handing customers to the illicit market.
But a spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board, the agency implementing the law, said it would likely be awhile before Holmes’ ideas were adopted, if at all. “The board has considered the options in his letter” during 10 months of rule-making, said Brian Smith. He emphasized that the board had initially opted to measure the 1,000-foot buffer by “common path of travel,” which Holmes wants. But after adopting that rule, the top federal prosecutors in Washington state met with Gov. Jay Inslee and argued for stricter as the “crow flies” measurements.
October 4, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Concerned there might not be enough legal pot stores to meet demand in Seattle, City Attorney Pete Holmes asked the state Liquor Control Board to consider increasing the number of retail licenses in the city.
The board has allocated 21 stores to Seattle in a plan similar to the way liquor stores were distributed around the state, before voters privatized the liquor market.
Holmes said his concern is that the illicit market will meet demand if there aren’t enough legal pot stores, and that could undermine the purpose of a regulated and taxed recreational-pot system.
Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith said it’s quite likely Seattle could eventually have more than 21 stores.
Seattle’s allocation is based on population and consumption, Smith said. The initial allocation is based on the retail stores capturing just 25 percent of the overall market in the first year. The board can open up additional stores at its discretion. “It’s fair to say that we anticipate adding additional stores as the market matures and more adults get used to going to state-licensed retail stores,” Smith said.
“We ask that the Board carefully monitor supply and demand for recreational marijuana as soon as the licensed dispensers begin sales and consider issuing additional licenses later in 2014 for dispensers in Seattle if the 21 initial licenses are insufficient to meet demand in our city,” Holmes wrote in a letter Thursday.
Holmes was a sponsor of Initiative 502, which voters approved in November 2012, legalizing adult possession of small amounts of weed.
On Monday, the Seattle City Council is scheduled to vote on zoning for pot commerce in the city. The location of stores in the city is constrained by the legal-pot law’s 1,000-foot buffer between pot businesses and places frequented by youth, such as schools, parks and playgrounds.
September 9, 2013 at 2:52 PM
A three-member state commission has affirmed a decision that the Seattle City Attorney’s acted properly when it ended a longstanding contract with a private law firm and instead opted to handle in-house much of the defense of police officers who need legal representation.
The unanimous ruling by the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) panel, issued Thursday, stemmed from an an appeal brought by Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) of an earlier finding by a PERC examiner.
The examiner, Emily H. Martin, found last year that the change was not a mandatory subject of bargaining as alleged by the guild, and that the city’s action fell within its “management prerogatives.”
The guild filed a complaint in 2011 after City Attorney Pete Holmes announced he was not renewing the city’s contract of nearly 40 years with the Seattle law firm Stafford Frey Cooper. The firm no longer exists under that name.
Under the new approach, police officers in legal trouble are primarily represented by the City Attorney’s Office or, in some cases, outside counsel hired through competitive bidding. Included is complex litigation alleging misconduct, wrongful arrest, wrongful death, excessive use of force and violations of federal civil rights.
Holmes estimated at the time that the city would save an estimated $800,000 annually.
The guild, in its complaint, alleged the change interfered with employee rights.
Sgt. Rich O’Neill, president of SPOG, previously has said the unfair-labor-practice complaint was necessary because the guild’s contract requires the city to follow “past practice” in matters of police litigation. O’Neill also maintained the contract indicates the city was required to retain Stafford Frey Cooper to represent police.
Martin, in her decision, cited the guild’s “assumption” that an in-house attorney would provide inferior representation than Stafford Frey Cooper.
But the City Attorney’s Office has filled its in-house positions with experienced attorneys whose work hasn’t been shown to be of less quality, Martin wrote, noting that the city planned to bring 75 percent of the police-action legal representation in-house.
June 13, 2013 at 4:30 PM
The city of Seattle embraces pot tourism and wants state regulators to consider allowing private clubs for visitors to consume marijuana in, according to a letter sent to state regulators by City Attorney Pete Holmes.
Mayor Mike McGinn supports the letter. City Council President Sally Clark said the council has not formally approved it. “That’s not to say anybody wouldn’t be on board with it,” Clark said. “But I haven’t had enough involvement with the detail yet to know if I’d want to sign on to the letter.”
The letter from Holmes, a sponsor of the state’s new adult recreational pot law, was sent Monday, the last day for comments on the state’s initial draft rules for a legal seed-to-store system.
It also asked the state Liquor Control Board to allow outdoor growing — which would likely occur east of the Cascades — and study the possibility of allowing delivery services.
As for private clubs, the new pot law does not allow consumption “in view of the general public.” Other state laws allow landlords to bar tenants from smoking, and they prohibit tourists from lighting up in bars, restaurants and most hotel rooms. ”For renters and tourists, allowing marijuana use in certain types of establishments other than private residents (sic) may be the only mechanism to enjoy marijuana.”
“This is both a race & social justice and an economic development issue,” the letter continued. “Renters and tourists should not be forced to use marijuana in parks or sidewalks.”
A spokesman for the liquor board, which is charged with creating rules for the new system, said private clubs and delivery services have not been viewed favorably in staff discussions. But he noted that the appointed board members have final say on decisions.
There are two apparent ways for tourists to work around existing rules when state-regulated stores open next year. They could buy and consume pot-infused edibles or liquids. Or, they could vaporize their pot using devices that heat marijuana and release key chemicals without igniting dried plant matter. Instead of creating smoke, users inhale vapors.
May 30, 2013 at 4:43 PM
A King County judge today granted a request to block the release of patrol-car video considered to be key evidence in an assault case brought against a Seattle police officer.
Superior Court Judge Julie Spector issued her ruling after listening this morning to arguments by the officer’s attorney and a King County prosecutor on whether an injunction, blocking the release, should be granted.
On May 13, King County Court Commissioner Pro Tem Eric Watness temporarily blocked the release of the dashboard-camera video, ruling it should not be disclosed to the news media until Spector could hear full arguments.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office had planned to release the video to The Seattle Times and KOMO-TV in response to public-disclosure requests. Times news partner KING-TV later made a request.
Officer Chris Hairston’s attorneys filed court papers seeking to block the release at this stage of the case.
Hairston has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a Sept. 24 incident in which his wife, Katie, who also is a Seattle police officer, responded with another officer to a report that a person had passed out near Seattle Central Community College. While dealing with several people who had been drinking alcohol, Katie Hairston was assaulted.
When Chris Hairston arrived, he is alleged to have assaulted the handcuffed suspect. A Seattle police report said Hairston could be seen on the video forcefully using his hands on the man.
Hairston was charged by the City Attorney’s Office, which has declined to release the video, citing legal restrictions.
The Times initially requested the video from the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which obtained an assault conviction against the man who attacked Katie Hairston.
Attorneys for Chris Hairston, in seeking an injunction, argued, among other things, that disclosure of the video would jeopardize Hairston’s right to a fair trial; violate Hairston’s right to privacy; and conflict with a state law regarding the release of dashboard-camera video while criminal or civil litigation is pending.
The county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office argued the video was subject to public disclosure and that Hairston wasn’t likely to prevail on the merits.
The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild has sharply criticized City Attorney Pete Holmes for charging Hairston, saying Hairston simply grabbed the suspect and that his conduct should be handled internally by the Police Department.
Prior to Hairston’s request, the guild’s president, Sgt. Rich O’Neill, questioned why Holmes had not released the video.
April 19, 2013 at 2:14 PM
A veteran Seattle police officer pleaded not guilty today to an assault charge stemming from a confrontation with a handcuffed man who had assaulted the officer’s wife, also a Seattle police officer, during an incident in September.
Officer Christopher M. Hairston, 46, who entered the plea in Seattle Municipal Court, was charged with misdemeanor assault in a complaint filed April 3 by the City Attorney’s Office.
His wife, Officer Katie Hairston, and another officer responded Sept. 24 to a report that a person had passed out near Seattle Central Community College, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
The officers spoke to several people who were drinking alcohol, including one who assaulted Katie Hairston, the office said in a news release issued at the time the charged was filed. She was treated at a hospital for a head injury and scrapes to her hands and knees.
After her assailant had been placed in handcuffs, Christopher Hairston, a K-9 officer who had been on duty elsewhere, arrived at the scene. He allegedly walked up to the suspect and intentionally assaulted him, the release said.
No description was provided of Hairston’s specific actions. A police dashboard-camera video that captured the incident has not been released because of pending legal matters, including a potential civil suit.
February 27, 2013 at 2:50 PM
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said today that he will not abide by Mayor Mike McGinn’s request to step aside from representing the city in its negotiations with a federal monitor to reach an agreement on how to carry out police reforms.
McGinn reiterated earlier today that he would not include Holmes in formal talks because of concerns about his ability to ethically represent the city.
In a statement released this afternoon, Holmes’ office said, “City Attorney Pete Holmes will not screen himself from representing the City in this case. The City Charter gives the City Attorney supervisory control of all litigation and, although the City has entered a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, this remains a pending lawsuit under the supervision of a federal judge.
“Mr. Holmes has violated no client confidences or breached any ethical obligations to his client, the City of Seattle. Mr. Holmes communicated his position to the mayor’s legal counsel in a private letter today,” the letter said.
Holmes’ statement comes one day after McGinn moved to bar Holmes from participating in talks on police reforms, accusing Holmes of “undercutting” Police Chief John Diaz in negotiations with the monitor.
In a strongly worded email, McGinn’s legal counsel, Carl Marquardt, accused Holmes of an ethical breach of the attorney-client privilege as the city works to comply with a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice to curb excessive force and biased policing.
Marquardt said it was time to institute an “ethical screen” between Holmes and the attorneys in his office who are representing the city in the matter.
Holmes’ office replied in a terse statement Tuesday night, saying his office “categorically denies any breach of the City Attorney’s ethical obligations to the City.”
June 1, 2012 at 4:39 PM
The tab for defending three Seattle police officers who in 2004 repeatedly used a Taser on a pregnant woman during a traffic stop is $424,616, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider a final appeal of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that found that police can be held liable for excessive use of force when using Tasers in some circumstances. While the appeals court ended a civil lawsuit filed by the woman, Malaika Brooks, it allowed a state assault claim against the three officers to proceed.
Brooks sued the three officers, who used the device in stun-gun mode three times against her when she refused to sign a speeding ticket or get out of the car. She was seven months pregnant at the time.
The city appealed after a federal judge said the case could proceed to trial. A three-member panel sided with the officers, however, Brooks convinced the appeals court to reconsider. An 11-judge panel ruled 6-5 in Brookes’ favor.
The officers, through their attorney Ted Buck, took the case to the Supreme Court against the city’s wishes and on Buck’s dime.
Kimberly Mills, a spokeswoman for City Attorney Pete Holmes, said Buck’s former firm, the now-defunct Stafford Frey Cooper, was paid $405,000 of the city’s total cost for the case.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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