Is Latin a Dead Language in Humboldt?

Latin is still used to describe legal doctrines. 

  • "Defacto" means "in fact"
  • "Ex parte" means "by one party"
  • "Fiat" means "let it be done"
  • "De novo" means "anew"

The term "de novo" is commonly used to describe the right to a new trial of an administrative hearing officer's decision if appealed. This is an important right that can effect disability payments, permit and license revocations, and property rights.  Without the right to a traditional "de novo" review of an administrative hearing officer's decision property and civil rights are at risk. An administrative hearing officer is someone the Government pays to determine the rights of its residents. Sometimes these hearing officers are unqualified, bias, or conflicted so California law allows their decisions to be reviewed by judges "de novo" or "anew."

Two Humboldt Superior Court Judges Kelly Neel, and Gregory Elvine-Kreis have determined the term "de novo" means the exact opposite of it's Latin origin. Both judges have held that a "de novo" review of an administrative hearing officer's decision is limited to the record at the administrative hearing meaning the review is not "anew" but is the opposite.  Our judges have decided nothing "anew" is allowed to be presented on appeal to challenge the hearing officer's decision. This is an astonishing holding (postmodernism?)which appears to contravene the findings of every other Judge in the State who has pondered the issue.  Will the Court of appeals agree with our Humboldt Court by turning Latin on it's head and disposing of due process? 

-  “The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use them.” Philip K. Dick

Supreme Court Resurrects Property Rights from the Grave

Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, No. 17-647, 588 U.S. ___ (2019)

Ms. Knick bought 90-acres of land in 1970 in Pennsylvania.  In 2008, rumors started to circulate a dead body was buried on her land. A relative of the dead body convinced (probably bought) the City Counsel to designate the land as a cemetery which forced Ms. Knick to allow visitors on her land. Ms. Knick sued in State court where her case was dismissed because the City had not filed an enforcement action against her. 

Ms. Knick petitioned the US Supreme Court to overturn a catch-22 for property owners. She claimed the City turning her property into a cemetery was an illegal taking (without just compensation) under the 5th amendment. Prior to this decision property owners were barred from seeking relief in Federal Court until they had sued and appealed all the way to the State Supreme Court. 

The US Supreme Court overturned this rule and now property owners can sue directly in Federal Court when a locality takes property without just compensation. This decision may bring an end to our local bureaucracy. 

Humboldt Planning and Building Department, Director John Ford on bottom right

Eureka Public Transit System

I've been grounded from driving since Mother's day due to a medical condition giving me an opportunity to review Eureka's public transit system.  On average public transit in Eureka is as fast as walking. 

California Proposes Reducing Cannabis Taxes to Fight Illicit Market 

Assembly Bill 286, dubbed the Temporary Cannabis Tax Reduction bill, would temporarily cut state excise taxes for legal marijuana retailers from 15 percent to 11 percent and also suspend cultivation taxes altogether through 2022.  The proposed legislation, which is sponsored by state Treasurer Fiona Ma.  “The whole aim of legalization is to compete with the illicit market and to get people to buy from the regulated establishments,” he said. “You can’t do that if the taxes are so high and onerous that people are driven out of that market.”

This is at odds with the taxing scheme in Humboldt were the black market is estimated to be 1,500% larger than the white market.  Yesterday, the Court refused to dismiss the Measure S lawsuit attorney Eugene Denson and I filed. The lawsuit seeks to return the tax to a crop tax as approved by the voters. The suit challenges the constitutionality of an amendment our county supervisors made to impose the tax whether or not plants are grown. 

Fred Fletcher

January 29, 2019

Human Rights Update

Judge, Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the US District Court in Oakland, on Sunday granted a request by more than a dozen states to temporarily block the Trump administration from putting into effect new rules that would make it easier for employers to deny women health insurance coverage for contraceptives. 

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

New Laws in California for 2019

Farm Employee Overtime

In 2016, California became the first state in the U.S. to require employers to pay overtime for farmworkers who work more than eight hours. The first phase of the new rules will begin in January, when agricultural employees will earn overtime after working 9 1/2 hours in a day or 55 hours in a week. Currently, California farmworkers can get overtime after working 60 hours in a week or 10 hours in a day.  The change only applies to businesses that employ at least 26 people. The rules do not apply to smaller agricultural employers until 2022. Discloser, our office consults with agricultural employers on compliance matters and we represent employees on wage and labor claims. Aside from wage and hour claims, sexual harassment and discrimination are constant concerns on the farm. 

Street Vendor Permits

A law going into effect in January will allow local governments to design permit programs for vendors and limits when they can be criminally prosecuted. It pertains to anyone selling food or other merchandise from a pushcart, stand or “non-motorized conveyance.” I anticipate the City of Eureka will embrace this new law and its economic benefits. I predict the County will ignore this law until the County is forced to follow it by a judge.  

Home Kitchen Businesses

A new law encourages Counties (like Humboldt) to permit home kitchens for the purpose of selling food products. California Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, who authored the bill, says that homemade food sales are a vital part of self-reliant communities. “Legitimizing these home businesses will offer a means of economic empowerment and pathways for many to achieve the ‘American dream,’” Garcia said when the bill was signed. Humboldt historically resists new opportunities which provide residents access to residual income. Perhaps after the County Supervisors election in 2020 progress will be made on this front.  

Fred Fletcher

January 17, 2019

The Measure S Lawsuit

Measure S is the cannabis cultivation tax the voters passed. We are challenging the County Supervisor's decision to amend Measure S as passed by the voters. The Supervisors amended the tax to apply to the property owner, not the farmer, and regardless of whether any crop is grown.  

Yesterday, we filed our response to the County's demurrer to the Measure S lawsuit. (Set to be heard January 28, 2019.) The County hired a large Sacramento Firm (founded the year I was born) to defend the lawsuit. They argue it's impossible to tax farmers for the actual crop grown because the County can't verify how much was grown. We informed the Court, governments since the beginning of governments have taxed farmers for crops actually grown, and we cited the Book of Genesis as our evidence.  

The amendments by the Supervisors have been misreported. The Supervisors amended Measure S to tax the permitted area regardless of the amount of crop grown.  As such, the supervisors have amended the tax to be assessed against fallow land, without regard to crop grown. We provided the Court authority that Measure S as amended is a property tax and is unconstitutional. We ask the Court to return Measure S to its original state which acted as an excise tax on legal crop actually grown. 

We will update this one. 

Fred Fletcher

January 15, 2019


County Supervisor's Can't Silence Critics, including Humboldt's Supervisors. 

In a 3-0 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Phyllis Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, violated the First Amendment free speech rights of Brian Davison by banning him for 12 hours from her “Chair Phyllis J. Randall” facebook page.

Last election my office received a few complaints from citizens who were censored for making comments critical of politicians, on the left and right (somehow our local politics are becoming politically polarized). Now these citizens may have recourse. This First Amendment decision could impact local elections nationwide by allowing the public to be heard.    

Fred Fletcher

January 8, 2019

Update on Nation v Trump filed in the 9th Circuit

This lawsuit challenges HUD's rule which forces subsidized apartments to evict medical cannabis users. Plaintiff was evicted from her HUD apartment on July 10, 2018 when a maintenance man discovered some medical cannabis in her bedroom. She remains homeless and is not alone.

The lawsuit not only challenges HUD's rule but relies upon Murphy v NCAA (decided May 2018) to challenge the constitutionality of the Controlled Substance Act itself relative to medical marijuana in the State of California. The Supreme Court in Murphy v NCAA resurrected from near death the anti-commandeering doctrine, which in laymen's terms means the Congress cannot make orders directly to the States. 

We are optimistic this lawsuit will prevail. If the District Court issues an order in our favor appealing the decision would pose a political pitfall for the Trump administration. 

I will update this one.

January 3, 2019

Fred Fletcher 

Update on Volkswagen Diesel Fraud Case

We filed an action in Butte County on May 17, 2018 with the intent of having a jury decide punitive damages. We would be the first party to bring the defeat device case to jury trial.  Peer reviewed studies proved thousands of people with lung diseases died from the fraud.  

 

Congress passes the Cloud Act clouded in secrecy

March 28, 2018
The DOJ has not been able to reach data from US citizens stored in foreign servers. Microsoft stores data from US clients including emails offshore in places like Ireland. Microsoft is before the Supreme Court challenging the DOJ's right to access the data stored on foreign servers. With the passage of the Cloud Act last night this case will likely be dismissed as moot. 

Privacy right's groups are saying the Cloud Act will expose US citizens to privacy breaches, since emails can be handed over to the DOJ from foreign servers under secret agreements.  The concerns are both on the individual and societal level. 

As individuals, we do not want anyone unauthorized to read our emails. But this is naive. Even with a private server nearly everyone you email uses shared servers. Everyone you email can also forward your emails.  The larger concern is the government can covertly harass citizens whose data is obtained by the Cloud Act. For the Cloud Act to work everyone at the DOJ has to be completely ethical, which is unlikely for any group of people. 

On the societal level, the more data the government possesses on group behavior, the more it can manipulate the masses. This is why companies buy data so they can manipulate masses into buying their products. As a group, we do not want our government to possess our data. About a decade ago, the DOJ has attempted to influence elections by voter fraud



There is potentially good news. Technology may route around this problem.  There are blockchain projects in development now which would break data into puzzle pieces and each puzzle piece would be stored on a separate server. No individual puzzle piece would have any information of value.  The owner of the data would hold an encrypted key sending a message to all the servers to connect the puzzle pieces making the data accessible only to the owner. Hopefully, public concern over data and privacy will speed technological advances. 

 

California Growers Association Sues the State

February 8, 2018
The California Growers Association has sued the State of California claiming the State has violated proposition 64 by not capping license numbers yet.  I find this suit humorous. First, the allegations are a mere 7 pages without much substance. Maybe an intern was paid a gram or two to draft this complaint in a Sacramento dorm room?  



The lawsuit seeks an order limiting licenses based on language in 64, the recreational proposition. If a judge agrees and only imposes a limit on recreational li...
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Medicinal & Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act Regulations Overview

November 18, 2017
All Bureau licenses

Temporary license – Allows for Operations while Annual license Application is Pending

A temporary license allows a business to engage in commercial cannabis activity for a period of 120 days.

The Bureau can only issue a temporary license if the applicant has a valid license, permit, or other authorization issued by the local jurisdiction in which the applicant is operating. Humboldt County will be offering temporary permits for farms who registered activity prior to...

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Eureka Medical Cannabis Ordinance - Amendments 10-3-2017

October 7, 2017

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF EUREKA AMENDING TITLE XV CHAPTER 155 AND 158 OF THE EUREKA MUNICIPAL CODE PERTAINING TO CANNABIS 

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF EUREKA AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1.

Title 15, Chapter 155, Section 155.051, [A Agricultural Districts], paragraph (C), [Permitted and conditional uses], is hereby amended to remove the following use (the remainder of the text in the table is unchanged and is omitted):

Medical cannabis cultivation facilities, mixed ...


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Eureka Proposed Cannabis Ordinance

October 4, 2017
The proposed ordinance provides:

Eureka will offer permits for distributors, dispensaries, testing facilities, manufacturers and mirco-businesses. 

Eureka can permit up to 1 dispensary every 6 months for a total of 2 a year, both medical and recreational cannabis.  

Licensed facilities can obtain a state permit to have an event including onsite consumption. 

Eureka will permit indoor cannabis grows up to 10,000 square feet in industrial zones. 

There is currently no maximum limit of permits which ...
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Licensing Authorities Announce Withdrawal of Proposed Medical Cannabis Regulations

September 29, 2017

Agencies Also Post Summary of Public Comments to Cannabis Web Portal

SACRAMENTO – California’s three cannabis licensing authorities announced today the official withdrawal of the medical cannabis regulations that were proposed in late spring by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch and Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing. The official withdrawal will occur Oc...


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San Diego DA’s Prosecution of Cannabis Attorney Has Sent Chills Through the Legal Community

August 10, 2017

Jessica McElfresh, a San Diego lawyer experienced in cannabis law, is facing multiple felony charges.

Republished from Voice of San Diego.
By Jonah Valdez

On July 7, dozens of attorneys filled the seats of a small San Diego courtroom. The attorneys were attending a hearing for one of their own, Jessica McElfresh, a San Diego lawyer experienced in cannabis law.

McElfresh is facing multiple felony charges.

What drew most attorneys to court that day was something they consider sacred: the attorney-cl...


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Boss tells state workers: Kick ICE out of California labor office

August 4, 2017
California’s top labor law enforcer wants federal immigration agents to stay away from offices where state investigators weigh claims about underpaid employees and workplace retaliation.

Labor Commissioner Julie Su last month directed her staff to turn away Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents unless the federal officers have warrants.

Her directive followed three instances over the past 10 months in which immigration agents sought information about California workers who had filed clai...

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California is working to avoid a shortage of legalized marijuana, state pot czar says

July 29, 2017
Los Angeles Times reports with Nevada suffering a shortage of legalized marijuana, California’s state pot czar said Wednesday that efforts are being made in her state to make sure sufficient licenses go to farmers, testers and distributors to supply retailers.

Providing temporary, four-month licenses to support some businesses including growers is planned “so we don’t have a break in the supply chain,” Lori Ajax, chief of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, said in testimony at ...

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Coming Soon Cannabis Credit Union?

June 29, 2017
Good news yesterday on the Banking issue. A Federal Court of Appeals ruled a Credit Union's lawsuit to force the Federal Reserve to issue it a master account is valid. Unless the Supreme Court overrules this decision, banking could soon open to the cannabis industry. 



Presently the lack of banking is a major roadblock to most cannabis businesses. Many in the industry have experienced account closures, forfeiture, denied access and uncertainty

“By remanding with instructions to dismiss the a...

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