Oct 27 2008

Charges against an Olympia lawyer who refused to show identification during an anti-war protest at the Port of Tacoma have been dismissed.

The lawyer for Legrand Jones had argued that it’s not a crime to refuse to identify yourself to police. Attorney William Ferrell said police were stopping people without cause during the July protest to gather information and discourage demonstrators. Under state law, it’s not a crime to refuse to identify oneself to police. “The Washington Supreme Court struck down Washington’s former ‘stop and identify’ statute,” Ferrell wrote in court filings. “In doing so, they made the following observation, a detainee’s refusal to disclose his name, address, and other information cannot be the basis of an arrest.”

Ferrell also said the case was important in the context of citizens’ freedom of speech. “Police were stopping people for real or imaginary criminal activities and asking for identification,” he said. “It was a tactic to gather intelligence. “It goes without saying that is has a chilling effect on people’s First Amendment rights and might keep people from going to protests.”

It is unclear whether the city will appeal the ruling.

One thought on “Charges against an Olympia lawyer who refused to show identification during an anti-war protest at the Port of Tacoma have been dismissed.

  1. Just a few relevant quotes from our nation’s highest court;

    “When officers detained defendant for the purpose of requiring him to identify himself, they performed a “seizure” of his person subject to the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.” Brown v. Texas, 443 US at 47

    “Application of Texas statute, which makes it a crime to refuse to identify one’s self to a police officer who has lawfully stopped one and requested such information, to detain defendant and require him to identify himself violated the Fourth Amendment where officers lacked any reasonable suspicion to believe that defendant was engaged or had engaged in criminal conduct.” Brown v. Texas, supra.

    “Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the State was to make men free to develop their faculties; and that in its government the deliberate forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of American government…they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones.” – Justice Louis Brandeis, Whitney v. California, 274 US at 375

    “The makers of our Constitution undertook….to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions, and their sensations. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone – the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the Government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment.” Olmstead v. U.S., 277 US 438 (1928)

    In the battle for Liberty,

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