Climate Change Project

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Public Health Procedure

also see: Police Power / Administrative Law

Standards for administrative warrants and nuisance abatement orders - Thurston County v. Sager, 122 Wash.App. 1036, 2004 WL 1616892 (unpublished) (Wash.App. Div. 2 2004) - good procedural discussion.

Court rejects necessity defense in prosecution of needle exchange program personnel - Com. v. Leno, 415 Mass. 835, 616 N.E.2d 453 (Mass. 1993)

Grant of Police Power Trumps Criminal Prosecution for Needle Exchange Program - Spokane County Health District v. Brockett, 120 Wash. 2d 140, 839 P.2d 324 (Wa. 1992) - a declaratory judgment to establish that the health department could provide needles without being prosecuted for distributing drug paraphernalia.

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendants, county officials and state attorney general, challenged an order from the Superior Court for Spokane County (Washington) that approved a needle exchange program in the county pursuant to Wash. Rev. Code § 70.24.200.

OVERVIEW: In response to defendants' contention that a needle exchange program was unauthorized and illegal as the distribution of drug paraphernalia in violation of Wash. Rev. Code § 69.50.412(2), plaintiff county health district filed in action seeking an order that the program was lawful, and the trial court ruled in its favor. On appeal, the court affirmed, holding that the broad powers given local health boards and officers under Wash. Const. art. 11, § 11 and Wash. Rev. Code § 70.05 authorized the county health district to institute needle exchange programs. The court found that because no constitutional rights of defendants had been invaded by the programs, the subject matter and expediency of the public health disease prevention measure was beyond judicial control. Although Wash. Rev. Code § 70.24.400 did not specifically authorize needle exchange programs, it did authorize needle sterilization. The court found that the statutory allowance for needle sterilization and for the use of appropriate materials to combat the spread of AIDS could be liberally construed to include needle exchange.

OUTCOME: The court affirmed the trial court's order that approved a county health district needle exchange program.


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