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U.S. attorney asks for more time to investigate Kettle River campground incident

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Spokane petitioned the U.S. District Court last week to provide more time to investigate the events that led to a National Park ranger shooting a Kettle Falls man on a houseboat last month.

Michael Sublie, the owner of a houseboat currently moored on private property along the Kettle River branch of the Columbia, faces federal charges after Park Service rangers approached him for excessive noise at a remote beach Sept. 14. According to investigators, Sublie was verbally and physically defiant when rangers attempted to board the vessel and turn down the music.

Several demonstrators who turned out for a rally in support of Sublie and Casey Hartinger, the man shot by park rangers, said the incident followed an annual gathering attended by area law enforcement and hospital staff at the beach, and the shooting is just another in a list of grievances they share against the Park Service's law enforcement efforts.

In documents filed Sept. 26, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Tyler Tornabene said his office needed more time to collect investigative reports from various agencies involved in the case. The Washington State Patrol and Investigative Branch of the Park Service are looking into the circumstances leading to the shooting and examining whether there was any professional misconduct on the part of the rangers.

An initial order required the Attorney's Office to provide all discovery to defense counsel within 14 business days of the arrest. Tornabene wrote that timetable would be insufficient to complete the investigation.

“The United States is mindful of its discovery obligations and intends to fully and timely comply with those obligations,” Tornabene wrote.

Sublie is due in court for a pretrial status hearing later this month. Hartinger has not yet been charged in connection with the incident.

Inslee, U.S. attorneys meet on pot

OLYMPIA — Washington and federal officials had what's being called a “standard followup” meeting this morning about the new policy on state-legal marijuana. Nothing earth-shattering to report, apparently.

Gov. Jay Inslee, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and U.S. Attorneys Mike Ormsby and Jenny Durkan has a morning meeting in Inslee's office. No big policy changes, say those familiar with the meeting.

Ormsby after the meeting described it as just an opportunity to underscore last week's memo out of Washington, D.C., on federal policy regarding states that have legalized marijuana in some form. The Justice Department said it would not be trying to stop Washington and Colorado from proceeding witlh rules to allow the growing, sale and use of recreational marijuana to adults, but it would step in to stop sales to minors, laundering of money from criminal enterprises and some other activities.

Inslee's office, too, said nothing new came out of the meeting. “It was just standard followup,” spokeswoman Jaime Smith said. “It's all an ongoing conversation.” 

Federal prosecutor says Spokane has good police force

U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby, whose office handled the excessive force prosecution of former Spokane police officer Karl Thompson, took deliberate steps Thursday to praise the trustworthiness of the local police force overall.

“That's not an indictment of our entire police department,” Ormsby said just moments after Thompson was ordered to serve more than four years in prison for the fatal 2006 confrontation with Otto Zehm. “We have a good police department.”

Although Ormsby still supports calls for an in-depth Justice Department probe of the Spokane police department, he noted that several steps have been taken since Thompson's conviction last year to improve the department's accountability.

He said the city's Use of Force Commission has been asked by Mayor David Condon to not only examine the department's past practices but to recommend a “path forward.” Ormsby said he believes the commission's recommendations, particularly with a City Hall and police department committed to improvement, could go a long way to helping restore community trust in the police force.

Ormsby bros. on 2 sides of medical pot

There's an odd family dynamic in U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby's shut-down-or-face-federal-prosecution warning to Spokane-area medical marijuana dispensaries Wednesday.

His younger brother, state Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane, pictured left), is among the Washington legislators trying to legalize and regulate the production and sale of medical marijuana in this state.

So as one brother readies teams of police and federal agents for potential raids on medical marijuana dispensaries that refuse to comply with orders to shut down, the other is trying to legitimize and control the growth of voter-approved pot use. 

Might be an interesting Easter gathering this year for the Ormsby family.

As for the legislative efforts in Olympia, Senate Bill 5073 is awaiting final approval in the state House, having already passed through the Ways and Means Committee with help from the younger Ormsby.

It's already passed the state Senate. Gov. Chris Gregoire has called for greater clarity in the state's medical marijuana law and has indicated she'll consider signing 5073 into law but wants to see the final version before committing herself.

Whether a legislative fix will be enough remains unclear, though.

The elder Ormsby is bound by federal law, which still considers all marijuana use illegal. It would take an act of Congress to change that.

Although Ormsby's boss, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, issued a directive in 2009 urging federal prosecutors to respect state medical marijuana laws, the memo appears primarily aimed at protecting individuals engaged in state-santioned personal use.

The attorney general's guidance on how to deal with commercial dispensaries is more ambiguous, arguing on the one hand that prosecutors respect state laws but on the other advising that “prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority.”

Feds warn local marijuana dispensaries

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane face federal prosecution if they do not end their operations immediately, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

Federal authorities hope for voluntary compliance but are prepared “for quick and direct action against the operators of the stores,” according to a statement by Mike Ormsby, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

Federal authorities will target both the operators of the stores and the owners of the properties where the stores are located, he said.

“We intend to use the full extent of our legal remedies to enforce the law,” Ormsby said. Depending on the amount of marijuana, some federal crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years or more.

Read the rest of my story here.

Ormsby ‘hooked’ on the law at a young age

Mike Ormsby can blame his godfather if the U.S. Senate confirms him as the next U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington.

At age 11, Ormsby got worked up over something he viewed as unfair. He then spoke to his godfather, the late Mike Hemovich, about his work as a criminal defense attorney.

Hemovich “told me what a noble calling being a lawyer was,” Ormsby said. “He said you are in a position to help people in a number of ways as long as you were willing to listen to their issues and problems. I was hooked. From that point forward, I was going to college and law school to become an attorney.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage: U.S. attorney nominee faces opposition

Ormsby chosen as U.S. attorney

Ormsby nominated for U.S attorney

Spokane attorney Mike Ormsby was nominated Wednesday to be the next U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington.

The White House announced that Ormsby, a partner at K & L Gates LLP who works with local governments and public entities on municipal finance matters, is being nominated to replace James McDevitt, who has held the job since early in George W. Bush’s administration. McDevitt and Ormsby once worked together at the predecessor of K & L Gates.

“I am very excited about the possibility of public service,” Ormsby, 53, said Wednesday afternoon after receiving official notification from the White House.

Read the rest of Jim Camden’s story here.

Those feathers, they give it away…

Good morning, Netizens…


Spokane attorney Mike Ormsby was nominated Wednesday to be the next U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington. Ormby, is a partner in the K & L Gates LLP legal firm that specializes in working with local governments and public entities on municipal finance matters.


Patti Murray, a senior senator, has already praised the Ormsby selection, uttering the usual collection of inanities one hears from her office, including that he is “well-qualified for the job.”


However, several others have asserted that putting Ormsby in as US Attorney is tantamount to hiring a smooth-talking fox in a three-piece suit to guard the chicken house because of his involvement in the River Park Square Development project. Furthermore, there is a wealth of evidence which suggests they might be right.


His fingerprints are all over the history of River Park Square Development. If you look really closely though, you can see the chicken feathers in the corner of his mouth from having already raided the chicken coop a time or two already.


The only statement Ormsby needs to make is explaining the approximate $87 million dollar bill for River Park Square Development, all of which the taxpayers are going to pay. Explain that and the chicken feathers in the corners of his mouth and I might support him. Of course, maybe not.


Dave

RPS critics try to scuttle Ormsby nomination

A former Spokane mayor and other critics of the River Park Square project are opposing the nomination of a local lawyer to be the next U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington because of his involvement in the mall renovation some 10 years ago.

Former Mayor John Talbott and three others sent a five-page letter to President Barack Obama and key members of Congress asking that Mike Ormsby not be named to the district’s top federal law enforcement spot because of his role in helping to secure financing for the controversial project. They claim the project was rife with fraud, despite federal investigators’ determination last September that no fraud occurred in the mall’s financing.

Ormsby called the letter an “effort to demonize me as a part of this project” and said some of its statements were false or misleading.

“The letter far overstates my importance to and involvement in the project,” he said. “I very much look forward to defending my reputation, performance and ethics in the vetting process.”