Thurston should drop Yoos’ felony charges

OlympiaJanuary 14, 2013 

On New Year’s Day, a Seattle man illegally discharged a handgun in downtown Olympia. The Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office choose not to file felony charge.

Juxtaposed to this treatment is the case of Scott Yoos. Over a year and a half ago, Yoos, who has a disability rendering him unable to speak, was confronted by four Olympia police officers. The basis of his alleged crime was the disposal of a soiled napkin in a Dumpster. For that crime, Yoos was charged with misdemeanor trespass and obstruction. The underlying offense was in Yoos’ attempt to communicate with the police using an expressive form of sign language.

Three weeks later, the ante was upped by the prosecuting attorney’s office and Yoos was charged with felony assault. It is noteworthy that this felony case has a high priority in that it is being personally handled by the chief of the criminal division, Andrew Toynbee.

Frankly, I find the absurdity of this interminable prosecution to be mind-boggling both in terms of prosecutorial abuse and tax-dollar waste. Long ago, Voltaire drew the connection between the acceptance of absurdities and the subsequent commission of atrocities. Today in Thurston County, we are faced with this linkage of the absurd and the atrocious in the Yoos case.

I urge Thurston Counting Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim to intervene in this case and put an end to this miscarriage of justice.

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