ACLU Files Amicus Brief on Unconstitutional Drug Sentence Questioning

Affiliate: ACLU of Iowa
August 2, 2012 6:26 pm

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Des Moines, IA — This afternoon the Iowa Supreme Court accepted an amicus brief from the ACLU of Iowa, filed by Des Moines attorney Gary Dickey after a Polk County man refused to answer a judge’s question on whether he could pass a drug test.

Kenneth Ray Washington III had pled guilty for possession of marijuana as part of a plea agreement that called for a deferred judgment and 50 hours of community service. During the sentencing hearing, Associate District Court Judge William Price asked him, “If you were to drop a urine sample today, would it be clean or dirty for marijuana?”

Washington’s attorney, Robert Rehkemper, spoke up and recommended that his client not answer the question, citing his constitutional right against self-incrimination. According to Rehkemper, the judge then threatened to deny Washington a deferred judgment. Rehkemper objected, and Price then sentenced Washington to 250 hours of community service–far more than the usual amount for a similar offense.

“The outcome of this appeal is important for all Iowans,” said Dickey. For our constitutional rights to have any value, we must be guaranteed that we will not be punished for exercising them.

The ACLU of Iowa is a private, non-partisan organization that fights to advance civil liberties for all. It is the state affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU prides itself in upholding everyone’s civil liberties, no matter who they are or what they believe. We have worked to assure the rights of all Iowans—from atheists to devout Christians, from labor unions to businesspeople and more—to make sure the constitutional rights of all are preserved.

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