• Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders

    Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders

  • Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders

    Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. | Vancouver Defenders


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Criminal Law

Jeffrey D. Barrar P.S. has grown to become the largest criminal defense firm in Southwest Washington. The firm has public contracts to represent indigent defendants in felony and misdemeanor cases and also represents privately retained clients.

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New on the Barrar Law blog...

Fight against routine pretrial shackling front-page news

A front-page story in the June 18 edition of The Columbian summarized our fight to get local judges to follow the 9th Circuit Court's ruling that routine pretrial shackling is a violation of the Fifth Amendment. 

The article, "The case for and against shackles," included responses from the Clark County Jail Chief Ric Bishop, Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik, Superior Court Administrator Jeff Amram and District Court Administrator Ela Selga. 

It also included quotes from our managing partner, Christie Emrich, who told the newspaper, "Our opinion is the 9th Circuit was very clear, and a judge needs to make a determination, an individualized decision regarding each defendant and whether or not that person should be in shackles and if there are less restrictive means." 

Golik said the issue of whether an inmate should be shackled is up to the judge, but as a "partial solution" he's advocating for expanding video conferencing to Clark County Superior Court so inmates wouldn't have to be brought to court from the jail for first appearances and arraignments. 

The article did not, however, address how much that might cost. Expanding the use of video conferencing would require substantial upgrades to an old jail, particularly for Superior Court matters when defendants are facing serious felony crimes and need access to their attorneys. 

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Local judges say "no shackling" ruling doesn't apply to Clark County

A May 31 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that pretrial defendants can’t be routinely shackled in court doesn’t apply to Clark County Superior and District Court, a Clark County judge said Tuesday.

The 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, has jurisdiction over federal courts in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

In the widely-reported ruling, a majority found that routine pretrial shackling used in courtrooms in the Southern District of California was a violation of a person’s Fifth Amendment right to be free of unwarranted restraints and that defendants should not be routinely shackled "like a bear on a chain." 

The ruling said judges must determine, on a case-by-case basis, which defendants need to be shackled for security purposes and can’t just turn over the decision to officers who provide security in the courtroom.

In Clark County, Clark County Sheriff’s Office custody officers routinely use full restraints on defendants when they escort them from jail to court. As described in the 9th Circuit’s opinion, “full restraints” means “that a defendant’s hands are closely handcuffed together, these handcuffs are connected by chain to another chain running around the defendant’s waist, and the defendant’s feet are shackled and chained together.”

On June 12, defense attorney Jeff Barrar raised the “no-shackling” issue with Clark County District Court Judge Darvin Zimmerman at the start of the afternoon docket. Zimmerman ordered custody officers to unshackle everyone. Custody officers then decided to bring inmates over from jail one at a time and the docket ran longer than normal.

By the next morning, Zimmerman changed his approach to the issue. One of our attorneys, Hannah McCausland, asked him about the shackling of defendants, and Zimmerman said he met with other judges and they decided that the ruling didn’t apply in Clark County.

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Update on shackling -- with bonus editorial cartoon

A day after we wrote about a Clark County judge saying the 9th Circuit ruling on routine pretrial shackling doesn't apply to Washington state courts ... well, we're not sure there's a consensus among our local elected judges at the courthouse. Even the judge who said the ruling didn't apply was unshackling defendants today. 

On this morning's docket, presiding Clark County District Court Judge Kelli Osler called our attorney, Tim Murphy, up to the bench and told him that she planned to make rulings about each individual on the docket, per the 9th Circuit ruling. Murphy asked if that's what's going to happen from now on and Osler said she wasn't sure.

But in Clark County Superior Court, our attorney Katie Kauffman asked Judge Robert Lewis to make individual determinations about shackling and he said he wasn't going to do that because the 9th Circuit ruling wasn't applicable.

This afternoon, District Court Judge Darvin Zimmerman agreed to have custody officers unshackle a defendant who has no prior criminal history. Zimmerman was the judge who ordered defendants unshackled on June 12 but then changed his approach June 13 and said the ruling didn't apply. 

Our firm is committed to seeing that the 9th Circuit's ruling, which said that routine pretrial shackling is a violation of the Fifth Amendment, is applied in Clark County courts. 

In the meantime, please enjoy an editorial cartoon by one of our attorneys, Neil Anderson. 




Son found not guilty of threatening to kill mother

Attorney Katie Kauffman successfully defended a client Friday against charges he threatened to kill his mother.

A jury deliberated about 25 minutes in Clark County District Court before voting to acquit Kauffman’s client of telephone harassment, a gross misdemeanor.  Prosecutors initially charged him with harassment. An assistant city attorney from the Domestic Violence Prosecution Center amended the charge the morning of trial to telephone harassment. Under the definition of the latter crime, the prosecution doesn’t have to prove the defendant put a victim in fear that a threat would be carried out.

Instead, the prosecution only had to prove that a threat was made over a telephone and the defendant’s intent was to harass or intimidate the victim.

Even with the bar lowered, it couldn’t be cleared by the prosecution. 

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