15-year-old acting as own attorney proves in court he was charged with bogus crime.
January 29, 2002 11:09 AM   Subscribe

15-year-old acting as own attorney proves in court he was charged with bogus crime. And the judge's admiring reaction? "Don't laugh when you leave this courtroom, thinking you have beat the system because you have looked these things up yourself. We are going to get you down the road."
posted by NortonDC (52 comments total)
 
Good for him for defending his rights. I'm glad to hear that he won. On the other hand, however, CAC founder Leonard Browning's comments (towards the end of the article) appear to have been said by a 15-year-old.
posted by milnak at 11:13 AM on January 29, 2002


Judges tend to take themselves way too seriously. The kid's got smarts and he beat this fucko once, he'll be fine.

I sincerely hope that, if he does get into trouble again, he does the smart thing and hires a lawyer. He got lucky this time, but going into court without a lawyer is like going into surgery without a doctor.
posted by UncleFes at 11:17 AM on January 29, 2002


If enough people, young people and adults alike, will stand up to this type of malicious persecution, government officials will be returned to their rightful place as public servants

Browning's comments are well spoken for an any-year-old. What shocked me was the judge's reaction. Would his threat have any influence, say over the local police force?

(Kudos, NortonDC, for sounding this post on the MeTa sonar first)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:20 AM on January 29, 2002


Also seen, and discussed, over on Plastic.
posted by jazon at 11:20 AM on January 29, 2002


A judge vowing revenge. Doesn't that kind of get you fired or punished in some way? The whole law and being impartial thing must not mean much if you can act like some hackneyed supervillian everytime some innocent is let go. "Damn you Superman, my next plot will surely get you!"
posted by skallas at 11:21 AM on January 29, 2002


"And we'd have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for that meddling kid!"
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:23 AM on January 29, 2002


"What shocked me was the judge's reaction. Would his threat have any influence, say over the local police force?"

Just to be factually correct, the judge is a woman.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 11:27 AM on January 29, 2002


this kid is my hero
posted by Satapher at 11:27 AM on January 29, 2002


Good for Joshua!

FTW, UncleFes, he DID have a lawyer. Who lied. Who did nothing for him. Who didn't care.

What a brave kid. I would have probably not had the guts to do that on my own and would have hired a lawyer, no matter how much I hate to give those people money.
posted by aacheson at 11:33 AM on January 29, 2002


Hey you guys could always email the judge your thoughts on her actions : rbaker@co.stevens.wa.us
posted by Satapher at 11:34 AM on January 29, 2002


If enough people, young people and adults alike, will stand up to this type of malicious persecution, government officials will be returned to their rightful place as public servants

Yeah but sometimes, the scale and ubiquity of official corruption in the war on drugs is just so fucking discouraging... Apparently, Cops ruining an innocent person's life on fictitious charges is OK, but wanting to risk ruining your own life by using drugs is dangerous enough to warrant taking your freedom away. Its 2002, and the man is still desperate enough to pretend like the WOD is just and has a chance.
posted by BentPenguin at 11:37 AM on January 29, 2002


good call. be sure to title your email to the jude : "Dear Public Servant Baker"
posted by Satapher at 11:40 AM on January 29, 2002


way to go, kid.
posted by whoshotwho at 11:40 AM on January 29, 2002


I think nowadays Penguin, the man is just unwilling to admit the past twenty or thirty years of fighting this alleged war has been unjust, a waste of money, and stupid. A lot of heads will roll that day. The powers that be don't want to be the heads that roll, so they keep beating the dead horse hoping no one will notice.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:41 AM on January 29, 2002


Hey you guys could always email the judge your thoughts on her actions : rbaker@co.stevens.wa.us

If I'm going to spend time writing a letter I'd rather it be to her superiors or whoever can actually do something. I don't see the point of just saying, 'You did bad."
posted by skallas at 11:46 AM on January 29, 2002


The most damning aspect about this is that drumming up false charges is only the tip of the iceberg (and courtesy of Ashcroft's war on terrorism and his dismantling of civil liberties, it's bound to be a cold iceberg indeed). Good for the kid indeed, but how many others are being locked up without being read their rights, or without attorneys intervening and actually researching the charges to see if they are legitimate and culpable. This is not an issue limited to the war on drugs. And few are as lucky as this kid.
posted by ed at 11:52 AM on January 29, 2002


Great post.

"If I'm going to spend time writing a letter I'd rather it be to her superiors or whoever can actually do something."

If you feel that way, please post the appropriate email address.
posted by keithl at 11:52 AM on January 29, 2002


Read a few of the other articles on The Idaho Observer's site. Anybody find another, uh, less kooky source for this story? Googling "Citizens Against Corruption" mostly returns anti-gun control stuff.
posted by swell at 11:57 AM on January 29, 2002


FTW, UncleFes, he DID have a lawyer. Who lied. Who did nothing for him. Who didn't care.

::reads article::

That is one lawyer who ought to be slinging drinks somewhere instead of lawyering.
posted by UncleFes at 11:59 AM on January 29, 2002


Isn't it great, this War Against Drugs
posted by matteo at 12:00 PM on January 29, 2002


matteo beat me to it. My first reaction was that the judge's comments illustrate the complete idiocy of the criminalization of drugs.
posted by McBain at 12:14 PM on January 29, 2002


...as if we needed additional evidence of idiocy.
posted by UncleFes at 12:17 PM on January 29, 2002


I'm glad this case was dismissed, but FWIW, the article only says that the judge "reportedly stated" the threat. It doesn't seem entirely outside the realm of possibility that the threat-as-quoted might not be 100% accurate. Given that the site seems to have agendas other than just news reporting (read the "Why We're Here" section). Just a thought.
posted by biscotti at 12:21 PM on January 29, 2002


War Against Drugs

If we're at war with Drugs and Terrorism at the same time, is this a two front war? I've been wondering this for weeks.
posted by iceberg273 at 12:33 PM on January 29, 2002


I'd caution people against firing off angry letters to the judge before they know a little more about what actually happened. biscotti's point is well taken, and there really isn't much on the site to convince me this is a fully credbile news source, what with the animated GIF burning the UN flag and the link to an anti-vaccine site (Mission statement: "to reveal the myth that vaccines are safe and effective; To preserve our right to abstain; To repeal all compulsory vaccination laws nationwide").

Just because you read it on a leftwing website doesn't make it true.
posted by jasonsmall at 12:38 PM on January 29, 2002


Just because you read it on a leftwing website doesn't make it true.

Funny, they must be some crazy lefties to be on the Ring of Conservative websites. The whole UN/Trilateral comission one-world government UN flag burning thing has always been part of the extreme right.
posted by skallas at 12:47 PM on January 29, 2002


Just because you read it on a leftwing website doesn't make it true.

Left wing!? Where did you get that from?
posted by rodii at 12:49 PM on January 29, 2002


Oops. skallas, don't make me look bad like that.
posted by rodii at 12:52 PM on January 29, 2002


Regardless of politics, it's an obviously biased telling. How do we know that the lawyer didn't show up and lied to the court? Because the reporter says so? Did the kid say this? Did the lawyer comment?

I think it's great that the kid got off, and I believe that part of the article at least. But this is a press release, not a news article, so it's hard to know anything else about what really happened.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:13 PM on January 29, 2002


you both make me look very bad.

er, um, yeah.

sorry.
posted by jasonsmall at 1:17 PM on January 29, 2002


Over on Plastic we were well into outrage mode until we started to look at some of the other stories posted by the Idaho "Observer". A few examples: There's an article on the future "mandatory AIDS vaccine", an article about a book that claims the U.S. is run by treacherous lawyers, an article supporting the "Flight 93 was shot down" theory, an article on the miraculous properties of castor oil, and umm, well, this article. Meanwhile, a search on Moreover and Google produced no hits, and the few citations on Usenet all reference the Observer article. Then again, the Observer does have the "Family Friendly Certification Seal".
posted by Humberto at 1:20 PM on January 29, 2002


The U.S. is run by treacherous lawyers. I thought that was common knowledge.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:22 PM on January 29, 2002


At the first hearing, the Trageser lied to the court about his communication with Joshua and his father.

Despite the indignation this seems to arouse in the reporter, there is no description of what was really said by "the Trageser" and therefore the readers can't judge for themselves. What's left is the reporters opinion of what transpired and this becomes an editorial comment.

Judge Baker, apparently irritated at the prosecution's inability to outsmart a minor in her court, reportedly stated to Joshua, "Don't laugh when you leave this courtroom, thinking you have beat the system because you have looked these things up yourself. We are going to get you down the road."

This reporter now takes the judge's "apparent irritation" (at what might be anything from Apache underwear to her Enron stock) and attributes it to something that supports his version of the story. It's a pity that such insight couldn't have been directed towards the kid -- we might have been able to determine if the lad was in fact a raging pothead or simply an avid fisherman (or possibly both).

"Reportedly stated..." So this reporter, who can read the judge's mind, somehow failed to obtain a citable witness to the judge's admonition. Where did he get the quote? I'm betting the completely bias-free stipling in the dock was a likely source.

"We are going to get you down the road" How many times have we heard such a warning from a judge, especially when the defendant is released on (I hesitate to use the word 'technicality', since a crime that doesn't exist somehow overspills the category of technicalities) a technicality. If he had been caught with doobs hanging out of his mouth and ears but got off because the police failed to Mirandize him, I would expect a statement like, "You got lucky, but don't think you can keep that streak intact. If you keep doing the crime, we will get you down the road."

Some facts mentioned and forgotten in the story: the dog indicated marijuana in the canisters; one of the canisters, when opened, contained traces of a green, leafy substance; there didn't seem to be a dispute that the substance was marijuance, just that there wasn't enough for a possession charge.

This isn't a story about a kid bravely fighting for his civil rights. It seems more like a kid busted for pot, the police screwing up the charge, the kid wily enough to nail them on it, followed by the judge warning him that his hubris might be his downfall. There are real heroes in civil rights movements; this kid isn't one of them.
posted by joaquim at 1:22 PM on January 29, 2002


Some facts mentioned and forgotten in the story:...

One more:

"To help prove his innocence, Joshua had a drug test performed at the local hospital. He submitted these negative test results to the prosecution, but to no avail."
posted by nikzhowz at 1:47 PM on January 29, 2002


Okay, I dumped Joshua Krawiek into Google and came up with nothing. Since the case was heard/dismissed early January, Google should have crawled whatever pages the story may have appeared on. Instead it came up with nothing. Could the story be an urban legand? Snopes doesn't have anything on it right now, but until I see another source for the story I'm going with hoax.
posted by jazon at 2:02 PM on January 29, 2002


I wouldn't go that far, jazon. "Tim Trageser" shows up as a public defender on this county government page.
posted by jpoulos at 2:09 PM on January 29, 2002


Regardless, it sounds like this entire scenario was made up.

Your search - "citizens against corruption" idaho - did not match any documents.
posted by xammerboy at 2:21 PM on January 29, 2002


I also developed strong reservations about 'Idaho Observer' as I browsed through it. Couldn't find any reference to Joshua Krawiek on the net.
So, I tried to look up Appeals Opinions refrerring to Rebecca Baker. She didnt seem to be such a villain. I am not trained on law and correct me if I am wrong, but, this and this seem to indicate she tends to err on the side of caution.
posted by justlooking at 2:23 PM on January 29, 2002


Does anyone here have any advice on what to do about ending this insane war on drugs? In a practical, pro-decriminalization, I can do it after work kind of way? I ask in all sincerity.
posted by puppy kuddles at 2:32 PM on January 29, 2002


Judge Baker is on there, but she's listed as a Superior Court Judge. Wouldn't this kind of case take place in Juvenile Court given that the kid is 15? Why would a Superior Court Judge be consulted in a minor drug possession case with a charge that sounds laughably fictional?

Given that the Hon. Ms. Baker is real and has been painted in a false light, I wonder how the Idaho Observer will fare when she finds out about it.
posted by ed at 3:29 PM on January 29, 2002


Does anyone here have any advice on what to do about ending this insane war on drugs? In a practical, pro-decriminalization, I can do it after work kind of way? I ask in all sincerity.

I think you pretty much covered it. Decriminalize so-called "recreational" drugs and place them under laws similar to those covering alcohol now. That will put the criminal aspect of the drug world back into the hands of big corporations instead of out on the streets!

I think time is the issue for getting this done. I think we have too many older Americans and politicians who are so deeply entrenched in the "War on Drugs" that they cannot concede that the war itself is causing more damage than the drugs. Then again, it may just be another way that "the system" is being used against the people. Even though I tend to laugh off conspiracy theories like that, given the reality of the situation one has to wonder...
posted by RevGreg at 3:44 PM on January 29, 2002


puppy kuddles, The best thing to do about ending the war on drugs is to talk about it. People have been bombarded with propaganda for thirty years that they don't realize that there are alternatives. Here is my website if you need ideas.
decriminalization.com
Also, please think about putting your email address in your profile so the post page doesn't get cluttered with responses not directly related to the thread.
posted by keithl at 3:48 PM on January 29, 2002


Then again, it may just be another way that "the system" is being used against the people.

Whatever. Laws like these are typically created to protect the stupid. Fact is, if pot (for instance) was made legal, the slew of people getting involved would rival cigarettes, and we all know how good cigarettes are for you. I'm tired of my tax dollars being dished out to people who can't afford insurance but can afford to smoke a couple packs a day. Bottom line, accountability. Until users (alcohol, cigarettes, drugs in general) start to hold themselves accountable, i.e. handle their business by keeping their private life private, these laws will continue to exist. An of course, any legalization is a slippery slope. (Apologies if I hijacked...)
posted by BlueTrain at 3:51 PM on January 29, 2002


marijuana: a natural green plant that makes most people laugh, created by God on the 6th day like all the other green plants, according to the Good Book (page 3 or 4).

you'd think the Christian Conservatives would freak out if anyone else put His creation in such a foul light, but somehow when the US Government does it, it's ok.

criminalizing a hugely popular crop that could be taxed 3 or 4 times more than similarilly smoked herbs-- a concept that any card-carrying Republican would be against if they weren't hypocritical oafs bent on jailing minorities, the poor, and the undereducated.

meanwhile all of this is going on while the Democrats do Absolutely Nothing. some of the tax monies generated by taxing weed instead of letting it all go to the black market could go to Education, social programs, and all the other lefty things that they like so much but they dont have the guts to stick their necks out and possibly lose their cush jobs.

both parties are so wrong on this so-called war and we're no better for letting them get away with it by continually voting for them and their parties.

a pound of grass is going for upwards of $400 a pound and the price doesn't deter anyone. Legalized, the manufacturers could sell it for an unbelievable profit at $40 a pound, let the government tax it $160 for each pound and it would still be ridiculously expensive compared to cigarettes or cigars, but the average toker would consider it a bargain -- and this Recession would be over immediately.

And of course, we could always export it once the rest of the world wakes up.

But this makes too much sense, which is why half the nation votes for guys like Bush and his son and his brothers and the liberal press writes and writes about anything but the obvious joke that is this war.
posted by tsarfan at 4:12 PM on January 29, 2002


That will put the criminal aspect of the drug world back into the hands of big corporations instead of out on the streets!

Take it from the criminals and give it to the criminals.
You know
with all this talk about all these wars, I feel like waiving all of my constitutional rights!


oh wait...
posted by fuq at 4:46 PM on January 29, 2002


I looked over the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, and it doesn't appear to hear drug offenses involving juveniles. Also, there's a special provision in the drug offense section of the washington statutes on controlled substances which can require the revocation of a driver's license for an offender from 13 to 21.

I tried to look for some more reliable sites on this case, but legitimate newspapers tend not to cover uncontroversial juvenile criminal cases, so I probably should have anticipated that a search on the web wouldn't uncover a better source.

I respect the defendant for standing up for himself, and doing the legitimate legal research and statutory interpretation that he did. The prosecutor probably shouldn't have brought this case forward under the evidence possessed, and the facts involved. He might have been under some pressure to do so from the school. The Public Defender meeting his client at the first hearing is not uncommon. Often, that is where a determination is made that a defendant cannot afford to hire an attorney. But even if that was decided earlier, it still isn't uncommon for a public defender to not get too involved prior to the initial proceeding in court, which is often an arraignment.

And our Judge trying to place a little fear of the legal system in the defendant may not sound right outside of the courtroom, and as reported by our less that objective reporter. But it wouldn't be the first time that a judge tried to convince a defendant that they were lucky to have their charges dismissed. An "I never want to see you again in my courtroom," might just have an effect on someone in Joshua Krawiek's circumstances.

Our war on drugs reminds me in many wars of the opium war in China.

The best way to fight a war on drugs is to help build up the infrastructures of drug producing third world countries, and make them capable of becoming legitimate trade partners. And spend considerable more effort on prevention, education, and building stronger support groups amongst the people here in our country.
posted by bragadocchio at 5:01 PM on January 29, 2002


Regardless, we need to establish ongoing judicial review boards that provide oversight and consequence to the inordinate amount of power we have given judges in our judicial system. How often do you read about some bonehead comment, behavior, or sentence of a judge and shake your head and say "Unbelievable! Outrageous! Intolerable!" and yet, does anything ever come of it? Are they ever held accountable? Recent history shows that this is a desperate need in all courts, from juvenile courts all the way up to the SCOTUS. I don't pretend to know how it should work, but the need is clear: the system of checks & balances is broken here as elsewhere.
posted by rushmc at 5:02 PM on January 29, 2002


...all the way up to the SCOTUS. I don't pretend to know how it should work, but the need is clear: the system of checks & balances is broken here as elsewhere.

Hardly. If you don't like what they're doing, start a movement to impeach them (Justices). The system works just fine; it just takes A LOT of energy and manpower to get it moving. Seems that people love to complain, but actions never follow through. (Not a troll, a simple observation) Hell, I believe that what the Judge said in the case demands review, and in fact, she does have superiors to whom any or all of you can speak with. Go for it; no sense blaming the "system".
posted by BlueTrain at 5:17 PM on January 29, 2002


There are "courts on the judiciary" and other bodies that rule over violations of canons of judicial ethics. But, you're right that judges have a lot of power, and that anyone possessing that type of power should be watched. One of the many reasons why we have court proceedings that are open to the public is to allow the public to provide a restraint upon judicial officers. (Often, it's the media letting us know about the misbehavior.) It's also one of the reasons why we have jury trials, and grand juries - to involve the public in the process, and take away some of the decision making from those possibly too enmeshed in the judicial system. Judges are also held in check, to a degree, by the threat of being overturned on appeal. One solution that I can think of to increase public trust in the judiciary is to allow cameras in courtrooms.
posted by bragadocchio at 5:24 PM on January 29, 2002


no sense blaming the "system".

The point is that sensible review and containment of judicial excess should not be so difficult.
posted by rushmc at 5:51 PM on January 29, 2002


I'm glad to see that quite a few folks thought long enough to question the source before eliciting comments about the story. The only thing one can't question here is that the Idaho Observer has some Libertarian leanings (or Libertarian writers with editors who don't know how to correct ostentatiously biased reportage).
posted by Bixby23 at 8:37 PM on January 29, 2002


Don't laugh when you leave this thread, thinking you have beat the system because you have looked these things up on Google yourself.
posted by thatweirdguy2 at 8:56 PM on January 29, 2002


« Older State of the Union Blog:   |   Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments