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Appellate court rules search unconstitutional, throws out child porn conviction

Washington appellate judges have thrown out an Ephrata man's conviction on child pornography charges after ruling investigators improperly searched his computer in March 2009.

Michael Allen Budd was convicted and sentenced to 13 months in prison after a Grant County bench trail concluded in April 2013. Budd immediately appealed his conviction, saying that evidence collected from his computer by Lakewood Police Department Detective Kim Holmes should have been excluded because Holmes did not provide an ample warning that he could call off the search any time he pleased.

Two of three appellate judges in Washington's Third Division of Courts of Appeal agreed. Their decision, and a dissent penned by Judge Kevin Korsmo, can be read in its entirety below:


Michael Budd decision

In overturning the conviction, the judges relied on the Washington Supreme Court's 1998 ruling in the case State v. Ferrier, a case that set a precedent for the process of law enforcement in the state searching a property. Holmes did not have a search warrant when she performed a "knock and talk" at Budd's residence, which is an attempt to solicit answers from and permission to search the property of a suspect before speaking with a judge.

Appellate judges George Fearing and Rob Lawrence-Berry found that Holmes did not provide an ample warning of Budd's rights before entering his Ephrata home.

"A house is considered a castle and entitled to the greatest protection from government entry and roaming," Fearing wrote.

But in his dissent, Korsmo raises the possibility that Budd may have recognized the police did not have a search warrant and agreed to a consultation in his home in order to later have the case against him thrown out on constitutional issues.

"No good deed goes unpunished," Korsmo begins his dissent. He argues that the Ferrier ruling does not apply to this case, because the search targeted only Budd's computer, not the entire of his property. Korsmo also says the oral agreement to continue the search outside the home should hold up in court.

The majority of the court said their decision should not lead to law enforcement abandoning the "knock and talk" technique, saying it "remains lawful … and we recognize that diligent and honest officers will continue to use this method of investigating crime."

Ephrata pot shop fights trademark lawsuit

An embattled Ephrata pot shop has fired a lofty salvo in response to a trademark infringement lawsuit filed against it by the marijuana media juggernaut that publishes "High Times" magazine.

In its response to a lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington, Richard Reimers and his business - previously known as "High Time Station" because of its location near train tracks in the small Grant County town - ask the federal courts to cancel publisher Trans-High Corp.'s trademarks on the phrase "High Times."

Reimers cites the court's authority under 15 United States Code Section 1119, which grants federal courts the authority to reverse or modify trademark registrations authorized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Reimers' attorney, John R. Zeimantz of Spokane, says the company is not using the mark to actually sell marijuana, and now that the practice is legal for recreational sales in two states (and potentially more) and medicinally in many more, the trademark should be cancelled.

"Since Plaintiff is not making a lawful use of the mark in commerce, the mark is not entitled to Federal registration and the existing Federal registration should be cancelled by this Court," Zeimantz wrote in the response, filed earlier this month.

High Times has been published monthly since 1974, when it debuted as a satirical one-off publication of Playboy magazine. The company has rigorously defended its trademark rights of the High Times name in Washington and elsewhere.

The company has filed multiple registered trademarks with the Patent Office, including the publication's logo that has been active since 1994.

But a victory by Reimers would not be without precedent. The national sandwich chain Firehouse Subs sued a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, bar and grill asking them to cease and desist using the word "firehouse" in their name. A jury found in favor of the small business and, as a result of the settlement agreement, the national franchise agreed to allow its "Firehouse" registered trademarks to expire. The courts will also be asked to review the Patent Office's decision not to renew certain trademarks owned by the Washington Redskins franchise because of concerns the team name is insensitive to native populations.

The next court hearing in the Ephrata pot shop case is scheduled in Spokane next month. Reimers said by email last month he'd had trouble keeping his shop open due to supply issues in rural Washington.


Woman’s Luck Changes w/House Win

An Ephrata woman's luck has turned around for the better.  On Wednesday she won a brand new $250,000 home in the North Idaho College Really Big Raffle drawing. Before her number was picked, her home was burglarized earlier this month and her car stolen.  The month wasn't going well for 72-year-old Donna Wallar. "They dumped boxes, and dumped all my jewelry boxes, dump everything that they could find to dump," said Wallar. Wallar said she walked into her home on the 4th of July weekend to discover it had been ransacked.  The thief was still on her property/KREM. More here.

Question: How would you describe your run of luck of late?

Where Is 2nd Mega Millions Winner?

Item: Post Falls to lottery winner: Please show yourself: Officials refuse to announce business which sold ticket/Nicholas K. Geranios, Associated Press

More Info: People in Post Falls are buzzing about the winner, even though the person may not be a local, and may not yet know they are sitting on a fortune, said Deaton, manager of Jones Chevron on busy Interstate 90, which runs from Boston to Seattle. "It's probably someone who drove through," Deaton said. "A lot of travelers buy tickets as they drive through states."

Question: Do you think the winner of the Post Falls lottery is local? Why? Why not?

Ephrata couple new multi millionaires


Jim and Carolyn McCullar check to see how much money he brought to Olympia to pick up their Mega Million jackpot winnings. He had $8 in his pocket.

OLYMPIA – When Jim McCullar woke his wife Carolyn shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday night, she was worried he was having another heart attack.
“Are you OK?” the Ephrata woman asked her husband of 41 years.
“Yeah. I'm perfect.”
A few seconds earlier, Jim McCullar was watching television, and switched from the Glenn Beck show to catch the weather on KHQ. “Stephanie Vigil looked me right in the eye and said ‘This is what you've been waiting for. The Mega Million Dollar lottery numbers.’ She read off the six numbers, and Jim McCullar knew they’d won because those were the numbers the couple always play: her birthday, and his.

Post Falls Jackpot Winner Unknown

Item: Inland Northwest ticket-buyers share in Mega Millions fortune:Ephrata, Post Falls stores sold winners in $380 million prize/Betsy Russell, SR

More Info: Both winning tickets in the $380 million Mega Millions lottery were sold here – one in Post Falls and the other in the Grant County town of Ephrata, Wash., lottery officials announced Wednesday. Each ticket is worth $190 million. The Ephrata winner came forward Wednesday. Washington Lottery Communications Director Scott Kinney said the Washington ticket was sold to a retired man who plans to take his family along to Olympia to claim his winnings today. The Idaho winners have not yet stepped forward; they have 180 days to do so.

Question: If you had won the Mega Millions jackpot, would you come forward immediately? Or wait, to put things in order to protect your privacy and yourself?