Fergusonham

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Sat, Nov 01, 2014, 11:29 am  //  Tip Johnson

A dog could do better

On Tuesday, Oct. 21, Western's Black Student Union held an event called “Getting Real: A discussion about Ferguson and Racial Profiling” .  There seems to be plenty to discuss.  As senior human services major Jazmine Smith noted in the Western Front, “There is no such thing as due process when you have brown skin.”  Bellingham was once home to Washington State's strongest chapter of the Klu Klux Klan.  Some of that attitude apparently still needs erasing.  Just ask Mike Grundy.

Mike Grundy never had it easy.  Bellingham turned out to be no exception.  His parent's rights were terminated and he landed in foster care before being adopted by his grandparents. At fourteen, his grandpa died and his older brother was shot dead, so Mike helped his grandma raise his sister.  He had good grades in high school, was a starter on the basketball team and stayed out of any trouble, by all accounts devoted to family and a polite, personable young man.  He was doing well at Western and had a good relationship as an intern in a corporate career path.

Then, May 21, 2011, not long after he turned 21, MIke went out with friends to some student house parties.  Not much of a drinker, he found himself on the street and feeling tipsy as police arrived to break up the parties.  Suddenly he was surrounded by white 'jocks' telling him, "Nigger, you better get off of our block." Or they would "kick his ass."  One thing led to another.  A large football player approached Mike from behind. Mike turned, saw him, took a wild swing and ran. Police tasered him and took him into custody.  Mike's punch had broken the man's jaw.

The all white police officers failed to do any investigation into why Mike Grundy, a black student, would take a swing at a white football player even as police had arrived or why he was surrounded by thirty to fifty other white students, calling him "nigger," posturing threateningly and commanding him to leave the vicinity, though he was standing in the public way - all points Judge Uhrig refused to admit into evidence.

The only student questioned at the scene was another black person.  He was subsequently charged with obstruction, even though police never took his statement.  His obstruction citation was delivered by mail after he was identified from a photo database police apparently keep of black people in town.

The Whatcom County prosecutor commenced a vigorous prosecution of Mike Grundy.  The usual charge for this kind of incident would be Fourth Degree Assault, a gross misdemeanor. Not in this case. Judge Uhrig refused to admit any consideration of self defense and agreed with Prosecutor Hulbert to pursue felony criminal charges, disregarding a lesser degree plea usually available upon request, especially for first offenses.

Even when the jury rejected the Second Degree charge and asked if a lesser charge was available, Judge Uhrig and Prosecutor Hulbert refused to instruct the jury that a Fourth Degree finding was available, leaving them only the much harsher penalties.  For Second Degree Assault, the Whatcom County Prosecutor's office often easily agrees to a Third Degree plea, but apparently not if you are black. Prosecutor Hulbert avoided even the Third Degree finding because adequate instruction would have opened the door to considering the element of self defense and the jury could have let Mike off.

Instead, Mike was sent to prison to serve the stiffer penalty.  Aware that the Judge's instructions were obviously in error, counsel for the defense asked for an appeal bond to be set. The prosecutor responded with a remarkable $75,000 request, but Judge Uhrig doubled the amount to $150,000, knowing his judgement could not survive the appeal, but assuring the bond could not be met and Mike would serve the entire sentence before the judgement could be overturned.  It's like a special 'get out of town free' invitation, courtesy of Judge Uhrig and the prosecuting attorney's office, underscoring that in Bellingham you still need to be just as white as you can possibly be.

The conviction was duly overturned and remanded to Whatcom County for correction.  Even so, the prosecutor's office is now insisting on yet another criminal felony trial - even though Mike has already served his time.

It sounded silly at first, but maybe a dog could do a better job.

Whatcom County Superior Court cause number is:  11-1-00816-9. The cause number in the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division I, is 70243-2-I.

(On a side note, Mike remains saddled with the football player's substantial medical costs because the threatening actions of the white mob were never allowed to be entered in the case.)
 

Dick Conoboy  //  Sat, Nov 01, 2014, 2:14 pm

Also disturbing and worthy of further discussion is the linked article on the pooch, Nyima, that is posted on the KOMO news site at + Link

This portion below on our County Auditor, Debbie Adelstein, is from that article:

“Dealing with “frivolous” write-in candidates is waste, says Whatcom County Auditor Debbie Adelstein.

“Anything that slows down the process is time, and that’s money and that’s cost to the tax payers,” said Adelstein, who said she understands the point James is trying to make.

She said write-in candidates—real or fake—must be separated and won’t be included in the final totals unless the race is very close.  Only then will her election workers examine the names on the ballot and verify if they are registered voters.

Ironically, Adelstein sees Nyima’s challenge as a way to get another point across to state lawmakers.

Over the last two sessions, county auditors have been pushing the legislature in Olympia to pass a measure to require write-in candidates to register 18 days before an election as way to cut down on what Adelstein calls unnecessary work of verify the legitimacy of a write-in candidate.”

Gee whiz, I am sorry, Debbie, that your job is so difficult with all those write-ins.  Aren’t those government jobs a bitch?  Maybe it would be meaningful if the citizens could know the extent to which voters are disgusted with candidates, even those unopposed.  So, how about it, Debbie?  Publish all those write-ins just for the heck of it.  Even the dogs.

Oh!  And don’t blame me, I voted for J. Lynne Walker.  And Nyima.


Barbara Perry  //  Sun, Nov 02, 2014, 10:07 pm

How sad to hear a believable Whatcom tale that sounds like it came from Ferguson. 

What has recently disturbed me is to hear the story of a young white kid who came out of a couple year jail sentence with a KKK attitude. What is happening in our jails?  Anybody reporting?


Mike Rostron  //  Mon, Nov 03, 2014, 6:30 am

This story is another example of why every citizen needs to be informed of jury nullification. Juries have the constitutional right to return a verdict of not guilty where they disagree with the law, or when they think the someone has been improperly charged, regardless of the judges instructions or interpretation. Legally, juries have the power in court, not judges. All citizens should educate themselves on this issues, see: + Link


Walter Haugen  //  Mon, Nov 03, 2014, 8:55 am

Mike Rostron - Very astute comment.


Fergusonham

Sat, Nov 01, 2014, 11:29 am  //  Tip Johnson

Or why to vote for Nyima, the dog, for County Prosecutor

4 comments; last on Nov 03, 2014

Something Gristly to Chew On: The rest of the story -

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It's just how things roll in Whatcom County

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Village Books

In historic Fairhaven. Take Exit 250 from I-5.

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0 comments

 

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