Recent Port of Shelton Commissioner Jack Miles/Strickland was convicted of DUI (Driving Under the Influence of alcohol) after a disputed breathalyzer test registered 0.10+; the legal limit in Washington State is presumed 0.08. He was represented by Bruce Finlay, esq., the husband attorney of Mason County Superior Court Judge Amber Finlay. District Court Judge Victoria Meadows presided over the jury trial and sentencing. Patricia Small, a Tacoma resident commuting to Shelton, was the young Mason County deputy prosecutor handling the case.
The Judge’s courtroom demeanor was sterling as was the deputy prosecutor’s. Judge Meadows’ sentencing was proportionate and consistent with that handed out to others convicted of similar offenses in her Court. She revealed no discernible bias or hostile attitude at this hearing. She was cordial to all of those in her courtroom. Ms. Small handled her caseload quickly, efficiently, and publicly gave a measure of respect and consideration to all defendants who approached her while openly negotiating plea bargains with them.
Mr. Miles did not appeal to the Court for leniency when given the opportunity to address the Court before sentencing was passed. Patricia Small, DPA, argued for an imposition of 5 days jail time based on Mr. Miles’ history and her assertion the conviction involved a ‘collision’. Mr. Finlay asserted there was none and successfully argued for the statutory minimum, 1 day in jail. Judge Meadows suspended 364 of a 365 day sentence based on completion of the terms of the judgment including a 5 year probationary period, a total combined fine of almost $5,000, no law or similar violations, a proscription against consumption or presence of alcohol including bars and parties to be re-evaluated after 1 year, and a payment schedule of $75/mo. over the course of 5 years probation until paid in full.
Mr. Finlay announced he would be appealing the conviction based on several factors including alleged prosecutorial misconduct during the jury phase of the trial when the State, in an apparent attempt to impeach Mr. Miles, falsely and recklessly asserted/questioned his “dishonorable discharge’ from the Marine Corps. Besides the fact this assertion was absolutely false (Mr. Miles received a stipulated ‘less than honorable’ discharge as a resolution of his refusal to inform on his fellow soldiers as to whether they were ‘gay’ at that time–an issue that has since become moot pursuant to Presidential Order) resulting in the Corps taking the disciplinary action against him for his refusal to testify against his comrades, even had the prosecutor’s false allegation been true, it was misconduct by the prosecutor requiring a mistrial. Mr. Finlay objected at that time, demanding a mistrial be declared, but his objection was overruled–a basis for appeal because of the resulting denial of a fair trial where the jury was not prejudiced by introduction of evidence having absolutely nothing to do with whether Mr. Miles was actually guilty of the State’s charges.
Outside the courtroom, Mr. Miles protested the weight of the fine and declared it was tantamount to a State run ‘racket’, i.e. all about the money! Mr. Finlay confided the defense had excellent grounds for appeal for not only the above cited reasons, but the irregular/questionable use of a breathalyze instrument by an inexperienced arresting officer who failed to follow prescribed protocol in its application.
Mr. Miles vowed to return to Arizona. His disappointment after a disheartening lack of community reciprocity following his championing its protection was apparent. Jack bridled at the thought of paying off a fine he argued was unjust. It’s uncertain if/when local residents will see another elected official running the political risks Jack undertook to champion their cause.