My wife and I recently took a ten day trip to Kaua’i. Before our flight, we snagged a carry-on bag full of books to read on hammocks and beaches in the South Pacific. Kat is usually the one devoting her free time to being entertained by legal-based entertainment (see, The Good Wife). I usually get my fill of these things during the work day. However, in the basement of Eclipse Books, the best used book store in book-loving Bellingham, Washington, amongst the Captain Cook journals and field guides to Hawaiian flora and fauna, was a nonfiction crime procedural about Hawaii that I couldn’t resist. It’s called Honor Killing: How the Infamous “Massie Affair” Transformed Hawai’i by David E. Stannard (New York, New York: Viking Penguin, 2005). It tells the story of a racially-charged murder trial in 1932 Hawai’i that captured the attention of the world, and was also the last notable mark in the career of Clarence Darrow, who many consider to be the best trial attorney in American history. I had never heard of it, and I was intrigued. Honor Killing is compulsive reading and highly relevant to our times.
The story is set in 1930’s Hawai’i, a remote American “territory” in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In the American consciousness, Hawai’i evokes (well-deserved) images of tropical paradise – verdant mountain valleys, blue waters, waves, ukuleles, peace. But the history of Hawai’i, as most know, is more complicated. By the 1930’s, Hawai’i already had a long history of colonialism, including Western missionary and corporate influence over the native Hawai’ian population. As Kennard puts it, “[F]or the first half of the twentieth century, most of those famously friendly and multihued people of paradise lived under the authoritarian rule of an openly white supremacist oligarchy.” Walter Dillingham, perhaps the most prominent American businessman in Hawai’i at the time, testified before Congress that “God had made the white race to rule and the colored be ruled. It was as plain as ‘the pigment in the skin,’ he said, adding that when a white man is ‘asked to go out in the sun and work in the canebrake, away from the tropical breeze, you are subjecting [him] to something that the good Lord did not create him to do.” Yeah.
Enter Thalia Massie. She was the young wife of a US Naval officer stationed at Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Thommie Massie. Thalia’s family had East Coast, upper-class pedigree, with blood connections to former US president Theodore Roosevelt. Tommie was from Kentucky. Both were white. “By 1930 the island of O’ahu was home to the greatest concentration of American soldiers and sailors anywhere … virtually all of them white.” In contrast, “[t]he overwhelming majority of the population was nonwhite, Asian or Hawaiian, as was the entirety of the low-paid workforce laboring in the fields of the sprawling sugar and pineapple plantations.”
On September 12, 1931, at approximately 12:50 am, a Saturday night, a group of friends noticed a woman wander into their headlights on the outskirts of Waikiki. It was Thalia. She had been at a nightclub party in the area earlier in the evening with Thommie. After telling multiple versions of her story to whoever would listen, she eventually alleged that she had been kidnapped, physically abused and repeatedly raped by “five or six Hawaiian boys.” It did not take long for the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) investigation, led by an Irish-born haole (Hawaiian slang for “white,” or “outsider”) detective and supported by his hand-picked haole officers, to find some “Hawaiian boys” to charge with the crime.
The story exploded in the American press and beyond. In the New York Times, more than 200 stories were run about the case in the spring of 1932 alone. “In a twelve-month period that witnessed the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, the transatlantic flight of Amelia Earhart, the Veterans’ Bonus March on Washington, the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the imprisonment of Al Capone, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, and the worst days of the Great Depression,” the Massie trial “was voted by Associated Press editors one of the top world news events of the year.” From coast to coast, major newspapers, almost without exception, rushed to the defense of Thalia with warnings that the “honor of American womanhood” was under attack by “lust-sodden beasts.” These contrasted with typical descriptions of Thalia as a “white woman of refinement and culture.” The journal of the California Bar Association, the Recorder, claimed that “a mongrel race now threatens white supremacy.”
The actual trial exposed much of the real story, including a complete lack of medical evidence that a rape had even occurred, police officers being caught red-handed planting evidence, a lie from Thalia that she had become pregnant as a result of the “incident” (which her doctors knew to be false), and wild inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case. There were also some masterful trial maneuvers by the impressive defense team, if you’re into that kind of thing. The jury was hung at 6-6 and a mistrial was declared. Seemingly, the justice system had done its job, but this was just the beginning of the story.
Immediately, the military community and the American press expressed outrage at the lack of conviction. Street violence and tension began to rise between the US Military and the local Hawaiians. Admiral Stirling, the highest ranking US military person in Hawaii at the time, called the unconvicted defendants a “contamination” who “were not men who deserved the benefit of the doubt.” Stirling insisted that the Navy’s shore patrol be given authority to “shoot to kill without being tried for murder.” Dillingham, the business tycoon, admitted that the defendants “probably were not guilty” but the authorities nevertheless “should have forced a conviction.” General George S. Patton (then an Army Major) wrote to his friend: “It seems to me that what the Honolulu Rapers need is some quick hangings. It is better for a few inoscent [sic] natives to hang than for the reputation of a great City to suffer.” Large parts of the haole community were crying for a good, old-fashioned lynching. And that is exactly what happened.
Instead of waiting for a second trial, a roving band of navymen kidnapped Horace Ida, one of the defendants, and beat him to the brink of death on a seaslide cliff, allegedly torturing a “confession” out of him and leaving him for dead. Miraculously, he recovered. Thalia’s mother, who seemed to make racism into an Olympic sport, along with Thalia, Thommie, and a sailor who had been sent ashore to “stand guard” for Thalia, plotted the murder of Joseph Kahahawai, the darkest-skinned of the defendants. They impersonated law enforcement officers in order to kidnap him, shot him in a private location, and were caught by HPD officers with his body in their backseat while they attempted to dispose of it in a lava tube off the coast of O’ahu. They were charged with first-degree murder, eventually downgraded to second-degree murder and manslaughter. Thalia’s mother openly admitted to the crime in interviews with newspapers prior to trial and the defendants were whisked away by the Navy to be held in luxuriant quarters on the top deck of a Navy ship, where they were widely praised by the American media as heroes and sent flowers.
Enter Clarence Darrow. Darrow was the darling of the American left – friends with anarchist Emma Goldman and labor advocate Samuel Gompers. At the time, he sat on the Board of Directors for the NAACP. However, he was also short on money late in his life and was offered a sizable sum to come defend the white lynchers, so he did. Amazingly, the defendants were actually convicted. The jury, in a compromise to prevent a hung jury where an obvious crime had been committed, settled on a conviction for mere manslaughter. Predictably, this shocked the US military, the haole community as a whole, Darrow himself, and the defendants. It carried a mandatory minimum sentence in Hawaiian prison of ten years. But not to be outdueled by pesky things like “due process,” the military and economic power set in Hawaii applied pressure to the judge to reduce their sentences, which he did. They were ordered to serve one hour detention in the sheriff’s office. By the time this was announced to the waiting press, there were only twenty minutes left of their “sentence.” Darrow and the defendants were snuck off the island in a Navy boat to a vessel bound for San Francisco, where they were received with fanfare and became national celebrities (Darrow, twice-over).
The whole Massie affair was a tragedy of the American justice system, played out before a watching world. The Hawaii-Chinese News called out the American hypocrisy, contrasting the “stupid mob mind” with “the American principle that a man is innocent until he has been proved guilty.” It was open warfare between the white supremacist, military-economic power brokers and our country’s founding principles of due process of law. The whole affair changed Hawaii permanently. Kennard describes “the new interracial consciousness” of Hawaii in the aftermath of the Massie trial. The historically self-interested ethnic minority communities – native Hawaiians, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Portuguese – coalesced and began a period of more intentional unity amongst themselves. This included many haole sympathizers. After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, when anti-Japanese sentiment on the mainland ran to a fever pitch resulting in internment camps for Japanese-American families, there was an aggressively anti-internment haole movement in Hawaii. In the 1932 election, 90% of Hawaiians showed up to vote. Hawaiian politics was changed forever, with complete ethnic shakeup of local governments. Nothing is ever a perfect fix, and Hawaii still has its share of racial tensions, like every community, but the community rejection of racism was real, long-lasting, and inspiring.
Honor Killing by David Stennard. Give it a read. Great story, with a full cast of heroes and villains, and fundamental questions involving the criminal justice system in our country.
Attorney at Navigate Law Group
1. The First Amendment is strong, but not absolute.The government generally cannot regulate the content of your protest message. However, it can place time, place, and manner restrictions on how you present your message as long as those restrictions are nondiscriminatory and narrowly drawn. For example, the government may be able to restrict all protestors from picketing within a certain distance of a state courthouse. However, it may not allow protestors to picket in a certain area who hold one viewpoint, and deny protestors to picket who hold a different viewpoint.
2. You may not have a right to protest on private property. The First Amendment restricts government action. Therefore, you are generally free to protest on traditional “public forums” like streets, sidewalks, and parks. However, the First Amendment does not restrict private parties from placing restrictions on private property.
3. You may need a permit. Small scale protests in public forums usually do not require permits. Many different types of protest events do, however. Generally speaking those that do are parades that may block traffic, large rallies that will use some sort of sound amplifier, or rallies at parks or plazas.
In politically charged times you may be out protesting on one side or the other. Whatever issue you are advocating, stay safe and know your rights. If you want to talk to me about your rights I can be reached by phone at (360) 205-2256 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For almost all family law matters in Washington state a person is required to use the state’s mandatory forms to pursue an action - but not for adoptions (there aren't mandatory forms). So where do you start? The best place to start is purchasing the adoption packet from King County, Washington. You will either have to purchase the packet in-person or mail-in a request with payment. Clark County, Washington has a copy of the packet in their law library (at the Superior Court) to view but you cannot check it out and copies will cost money. Plan accordingly.
For an agreed stepparent adoption (in which you have a stepparent who wants to adopt their stepchild and both biological parents are in agreement), you will need the following documents to begin the proceeding:
1. Petition for Adoption by Step Parents
2. Petition for Relinquishment of Parent-Child Relationship of Father/Alleged Father/Mother
3. Father’s/Alleged Father/Mother Consent to Adoption and Termination of Parent-Child Relationship
4. Consent of Child (if the child to be adopted is 14 years or older)
5. UCCJEA (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) Affidavit
6. Confidential Information Form (and an Addendum to Confidential Information Form if needed)
In addition to these documents, you will also need to request the court enter an Order for a Post Placement Report (a pre-placement report is not needed if the child is living in the same home as the step parent already). You make this request by filing the following documents at the same time as all the other documents, as stated above (when you initially file at the courthouse):
1. Motion and Declaration for Post Placement Report
2. Notice of Hearing
There will be a filing fee, so call your courthouse to double check on the amount because the fee is updated periodically. That should get you started. Keep in mind, this is for agreed adoptions where the stepparent is adopting the stepchild. If the facts surrounding the adoption fall under other circumstances, there will be different procedures and documents required.
Questions? Call or email Amber Rush at email@example.com or 360-205-2206
If you want to file an appeal from your final order (issued by the Superior Court) in a family law matter, here is how you practically get started:
1. You will have 30 days to file your Notice of Appeal from the date of your final order or order on reconsideration was entered with the Superior court, whichever occurred last.
2. What is needed for a Notice of Appeal?
Here is an example form (in Microsoft Word) that you can use.
You will need the Notice of Appeal form completed, also attach a copy of the written order that you are appealing.
3. Where do you file the appeal? You will file it (Notice of Appeal with the attached copy of the order) at the trial court (if the final order was issued in Clark County, WA, you would file it at the Clark County Superior Court).
4. How much is it? Until July 1, 2017, the filing fee for an appeal is $290.00. You can either call the court or check the statute for an updated fee amount.
5. Do I have to provide copies to the opposing party of all the documents I file? Yes. You have to provide the other party copies of everything on the same day you file at the courthouse.
Questions on this information, or what to do next? Call or email me (Amber Rush) at firstname.lastname@example.org
You think you have a legal issue, and you want to find an attorney to consult with or possibly hire. You follow up on some suggestions from friends, consult with attorneys you may know personally, or find a couple attorneys from the ethers of the internet. You go to one or multiple consultations with attorneys that could potentially help you with your issue, and you are looking to hire. But how do you choose the best attorney for you? Below are a few things to keep in mind while trying to choose the right attorney for you:
Attorney at Navigate Law Group
When looking to divide retirement assets make sure you keep some key things in mind (this is written for the laws of the State of Washington, laws may vary by state):
Is the asset a Defined Contribution Plan or a Defined Benefit Pension Plan? The correct classification needs to be in your Final Order and QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) for dividing the asset.
If it is a Defined Benefit Pension Plan, you need to consider which accrued benefit you are dividing. Are you dividing the accrued benefit as of the date of divorce or separation, from the date of the employee’s retirement, or some other period of time?
The Washington State Court of Appeals recently issued an unpublished opinion, Venezino v. Chvatal (January 10, 2017), which allowed a legal malpractice claim to move forward on the issue of potential malpractice on behalf of an attorney's advisement on this very point.
The issue in that matter was whether an attorney breached their standard of care because they did not advise on the time rule for division of a pension plan. Apparently, the attorney only advised on dividing the asset as a fixed percentage from the current date. The court discusses an additional method of dividing retirement accounts: the Bulicek formulation (the time rule). The attorney in this case apparently had only advised on dividing the asset based on fixed percentages (the "subtraction method") from when the Decree was entered. The Bulicek formula multiples the non-participant’s percentage share times the plan participant’s final wage. Whereas the subtraction method divides the asset from a certain date (date of decree or separation) on a percentage basis (like 50% to each spouse). In this case, it appears the time rule would have been more beneficial to the party, and that client should have be advised accordingly.
Bottom line, these are not the only two methods for dividing a retirement account. You need to know there are many ways to divide retirement accounts, and if you are an attorney you need to make sure clients are advised on those options.
Questions? Call or email me at email@example.com or 360-205-2206
A brand new study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) revealed some surprising insights about consumer debt collection practices in America. The bureau found that 75% of people who request collectors to stop calling are ignored; 53% of respondents said at least one of the debts a creditor was attempting to collect was either for the wrong amount, the creditor had the wrong person, or the debt was not even owed; that one in seven consumers contacted about a debt end up being sued; and that 75% of people who are sued for a debt do not show up to court.
If a consumer is sued for a debt and they ignore the issue a default judgment will likely be filed against them. This makes the situation worse because now the creditor or collection company can garnish the consumer’s wages or file a lien on their property to collect the amount. This is particularly troublesome when 53% collection efforts involve a major error!
If a creditor or collection company has contacted you or you have been sued for a debt there may be things an attorney can do to help. If you would like to talk with me about debtor defense issues I can be reached by phone at (360) 205-2256 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attorney at Navigate Law Group
The Vancouver/Portland weather has recently had historic levels of snow. Conditions have been so bad that most schools and public buildings have been closed for at least a couple of days. Weather this cold and unpredictable will definitely lead to hazardous conditions that send people to the hospital. Hopefully this does not apply to you or anyone you know. However, I thought it was timely to follow-up on a recent post about Washington’s charity care laws. If you or someone you know ends up needing hospital treatment make sure to apply for the hospital’s version of charity care. It is also important to remember that if you have insurance, the charity care deduction can apply to your deductible or co-pay. A 50%, 60%, 80% or possibly 100% reduction of a high deductible is well worth the time to fill out a form.
Attorney at Navigate Law Group
Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue you should consult an attorney.
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