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News and Announcements

Lawsuit Challenges State and Counties to Refund Financial Penalties for Drug Charges

Apr 17, 2021 / News Item
A nonprofit representing formerly incarcerated Washington residents is suing the state and its 39 counties in an attempt to address one of the loose ends left by the state Supreme Court’s landmark opinion in February ruling all simple drug possession charges unconstitutional. The Seattle-based Civil Survival Project filed the class action lawsuit on Thursday, April 15, in an effort to stop the state, county superior courts, and private contractors from collecting Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) tied to simple drug possession convictions. An LFO is a financial penalty that a court imposes...
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Civil Survival Project Amends Legal Financial Obligations Lawsuit Against Washington State And Counties, Files Class Action

Apr 15, 2021 / Press Release
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON …. The class action lawsuit is filed on behalf of the Civil Survival Project (CSP) , a non-profit organization, and three class representatives Irene Slagle, Christina Zawaideh, and Julia Reardon. Plaintiffs seek to stop the ongoing collection of Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) related to simple drug possession convictions under what is now an unconstitutional and invalidated law. CSP is asking Washington State, King County, and Snohomish County, and every other county in the state, to cancel all legal financial obligations imposed under the statute, and to return all...
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By Throwing Out Drug Law, Washington Supreme Court Creates Massive Fallout

Mar 22, 2021 / News Item
In the wake of the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling in the “Blake” decision on February 25, people can no longer be arrested for simple drug possession in Washington state. Officials must now chart a new path to address past convictions and current substance use. Even supporters of drug decriminalization say they were caught by surprise when the court struck down the state’s felony drug possession law last month as unconstitutional. But now they say the state should embrace the opportunity to take a new approach to addiction treatment. At least one jurisdiction has reinstated a new version...
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Now that Washington’s drug possession law has been struck down, swamped legal system faces massive do-over

Mar 18, 2021 / News Item
Reverberations are spreading from a state Supreme Court opinion that last month struck down Washington’s decades-old drug possession statute as unconstitutional, sending ripple effects through a legal system that’s grappling with how to remedy past harm while facing an unprecedented backlog of criminal cases created by the coronavirus pandemic. There’s general but not unanimous consensus the Supreme Court’s 5-4 opinion in the case known as State v. Blake doesn’t just affect cases in which someone accidentally or unknowingly possessed illegal drugs, but instead requires that all past...
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Officials grapple with questions raised by court voiding state's drug possession law

Mar 15, 2021 / News Item
Two weeks after the state Supreme Court dropped its decision in State vs. Blake, ramifications are coming in waves like a hit of acid, a substance that is no longer illegal to possess under state law, along with meth, heroin and cocaine. Though local and state officials are unsure what to do next and, more importantly, who will pay for all the new mandates flowing from the decision, there is broad agreement the court striking down the state law prohibiting simple drug possession doesn’t just affect future cases, but cases going back decades. “It’s been hard to find an accurate idea of how...
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Group sues Washington state, pair of counties over drug possession cases

Mar 12, 2021 / News Item
A group of defense attorneys is suing the state, King, and Snohomish counties, to recover penalties paid in simple drug possession cases. WA Rep explains deeper goal behind bill to decriminalize drugs In late February, the state Supreme Court ruled the state’s felony simple drug possession law was unconstitutional. The courts argument was rooted in the idea that the state’s existing statute did not distinguish between knowing and unknowing possession. Prior to that ruling, Washington was the only state that did not make that distinction. One of the downstream effects was that without a new,...
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Court’s drug possession ruling upends WA’s criminal justice system

Mar 12, 2021 / News Item
In the Blake decision, the Washington Supreme Court voided most drug possession cases in the state. The implications will be huge. When Kelly Vomacka first read that the Washington Supreme Court had struck down the law criminalizing drug possession in the state, she was in disbelief. The Blake decision, named for the woman at its center, was not at all on Vomacka’s radar. While she was peripherally aware of the case, she would not have guessed that this is where it would lead. In this, she was not alone — attorneys, advocates, lawmakers, even the lawyer who argued before the nine justices on...
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Civil Survival Project Sues Washington State and Counties for Unconstitutional Simple Drug Possession Penalties

Mar 11, 2021 / Press Release
Civil Survival Project (Civil Survival) announced today that it is suing Washington State, King County, and Snohomish County on behalf of participants wrongfully convicted of simple narcotics possession under RCW 69.50.4013. As these participants had been convicted under an invalidated and unconstitutional law, Civil Survival is pursuing the cancellation of all legal financial obligations imposed under the statute, as well as return of all funds paid to date by individuals sentenced for simple possession. Representing Civil Survival and its members are the law firms of Outten & Golden LLP...
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If you had to pay Legal Final Obligations as a result of a conviction under RCW 69.50.4013, contact us for a consultation.