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Tag: Thomas Felnagle


Hilltop Crips deserve the conspiracy charges

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Thomas Felnagle is a fine judge, but we devoutly hope he’s wrong about using conspiracy charges against street gangs.

The Pierce County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that prosecutors cannot target members of the Hilltop Crips solely on the basis of their alleged affiliation with the violent gang; any prosecutions must tie defendants to specific criminal acts they personally participated in.

As it happens, his ruling may not have much effect on the cases against three dozen suspected Crips who’ve been rounded up since February by a task force of local, state and federal law enforcement officers. That’s because there was such an abundance of crimes to charge: shootings, robberies, assaults, burglaries – more than 50 felonies in all. Read more »


Don’t blame McCarthy and Felnagle for lack of clairvoyance on Clemmons

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

It’s hard to sustain outrage against a dead man. Maurice Clemmons is beyond the reach of public anger, so the anger has to go looking for someone else.

Targets of convenience: the two Pierce County Superior Court judges, John McCarthy and Thomas Felnagle, who allowed Clemmons to post bond and walk out of jail before killing four Lakewood police officers Sunday.

Anger doesn’t have a brain, though. McCarthy and Felnagle are the wrong targets. If we’re looking to pin blame, the best candidate at this point looks like the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
It is indeed true that McCarthy on July 2 set a bail of $190,000 for several felony charges against Clemmons, including second-degree child rape, third-degree assault and malicious mischief. By all accounts, though, $190,000 was a high bail, given the circumstances. Even so – and this is a crucial point – McCarthy still ordered Clemmons held without bail because Arkansas had issued a warrant to extradite him.

Leave aside the warrant for a moment. On the Washington counts, denying bail wasn’t an option. The state constitution decrees that defendants have the right to post bail for all but capital charges. Keep in mind, Clemmons was not a cop-killer on July 2. He was just one of an unending stream of defendants – many charged with serious crimes, including child rape – flowing relentlessly through the court system. Neither McCarthy nor anyone else had a crystal ball to warn them that this particular defendant would explode five months later and gun down four officers.
Read more »