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Seattle Judge Dismisses Every Pot Ticket For First Seven Months Of Year

The General

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A Seattle judge on Wednesday dismissed every citation for public marijuana use written in the first seven months of this year after city officials said the tickets were disproportionately handed out to black men. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes had also sought the dismissal of the 100 citations issued from January to the end of July because more than half were given out by a single officer who apparently opposed marijuana legalization. Washington state voters in 2012 approved recreational sales of the drug to adults, but Seattle city law prohibits its use in public spaces such as parks and street corners.

A Seattle Municipal Court judge signed orders "to vacate the default judgment and dismiss with prejudice all 100 citations in the interest of justice," a court spokesman said. Holmes testified to Seattle City Council on Monday that all the tickets written for the first half of 2014 should be voided. The Seattle Police Department has said 36 percent of the citations were issued to African-Americans, who make up just 8 percent of the city's population.

In July, the city's police chief said the officer who wrote most of the tickets had been taken off patrol duties while an investigation was carried out. The police department says it is working on training officers to issue warnings when possible, in place of citations, and is addressing any racial or demographic bias in enforcement. Twenty-two of those ticketed have paid the $27 fine for public use, a court official said. Those individuals can expect refunds in coming weeks, he said.

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Source: Reuters.com
Author: Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney
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Website: Seattle judge dismisses every pot ticket for first seven months of year | Reuters
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