Case, Staff & Intern News
Tacoma Case Dismissed!
Three misdemeanor charges against a FPD client were dismissed after the defense team won a suppression motion and affirmed that win on appeal. The case team—Tacoma AFD Becky Fish, Federal Defender Mike Filipovic, Tacoma Research & Writing attorney Alan Zarky, Tacoma paralegal Carolynn Cohn, and Tacoma investigator Stacey Brownstein—argued that police had effectively arrested the client without probable cause, requiring suppression of two incriminating statements to police. Police wanted to investigate the client because the client’s car was similar to the description of a car involved in the misdemeanor charges the previous day. But multiple armed and uniformed police descended upon the client when he arrived at his car for this investigation. Honorable Magistrate Judge Theresa L. Fricke found that police effectively arrested the client when they handcuffed him, isolated him, and interrogated him on the hood of a patrol car. Judge Fricke also found that police lacked probable cause to do so based on the general description of the car suspected of involvement in the misdemeanors the previous day, and a vague report by a civilian that the client seemed suspicious. Judge Fricke suppressed two incriminating statements that law enforcement elicited from the client as a result of the arrest. The government appealed Judge Fricke’s suppression order to the District Court. After considering the record, thorough briefing, and oral argument, Honorable District Judge Robert J. Bryan affirmed Judge Fricke’s suppression order. With the incriminating statements suppressed, the government dismissed all charges in the case. Congrats to our client!
For one FPD client, the 2021 holidays brought the best gift ever—a recognition by the Court that, while the system has had the best of intentions for B, he has been held accountable for his choices, and no further incarceration or supervision is necessary or warranted. B’s life for many, many years, has been out of his control. B’s childhood was very tough. He survived severe abuse. His childhood traumas have continued to haunt him. Drug use and addiction have been a constant in his environment throughout most of his life. B was released from prison in 2013 after being wrongfully convicted and serving 10 years in custody. He was the first person in Washington to receive wrongful conviction compensation from the state with the help of the Innocence Project. Having suffered significant trauma by and in the criminal legal system, he struggled to find his path back in the community, and in 2016 he was arrested and then convicted of felon in possession of a firearm and conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. He became a client of our office and has worked closely with FPD staff ever since.
Since 2019 B has been on supervision and fought tooth and nail to turn his life around, with the support of the Probation Office and FPD. He is a charismatic, intelligent, hard-working man who wants to make the world a better place by applying his lived experience. While he struggled along the way, at the Residential Reentry Center last year, he got a full-time job and worked to get into residential treatment, all while grieving the loss of several close family members and friends. He also openly and honestly communicated with those in a position to help him.
This past December, B’s supervision was then terminated with the strong advocacy of Seattle AFD Jennifer Wellman, Seattle paralegal Barbara Hughes and FPD social worker Daniel Potter-Engelskirger. He was immediately released from custody and reunited with his mother for one night before heading to residential treatment the following day. That evening the two enjoyed each other’s company indulging in a home cooked feast, a movie marathon and a delayed Christmas present exchange. B has taken control of his life, once again and we wish him all the best in his path forward.
Jessica Cvitanovic Receives a Promotion!
Please congratulate Jessica Cvitanovic who was promoted to Branch Administrative Assistant for the Tacoma office on December 20, 2021. Since she joined our office in November 2014 as a Case Management Assistant her responsibilities have increased to include paralegal and client assistance and administrative support to the office. Jessica has over 14 years of legal support work and takes pride in her ability to manage multiple tasks and adapt quickly to unpredictable times while continuing to meet project objectives. Jessica will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Tacoma office while continuing her case management duties and assisting paralegals.
Please Welcome our New Legal Interns!
Please Welcome our New Undergrad Interns!