From the November 2003 Idaho Observer:
Turning anger into art
NEWPORT, Wash. -- Yesterday, Joe Krawiec was a roofer and the father of what may be the nation's youngest successful pro se litigant. Today Joe Krawiec carves wood into works of art.
On October 11, 2001, Joshua Krawiec, then 15, of Elk, Washington, was charged with possession of paraphernalia (which is not a crime in the state of Washington). Police believed they found traces of marijuana in a film container when a drug dog alerted on his locker at Newport High School.
According to Josh, the empty film containers usually contain fishing hooks and flies because he sometimes fishes in the Pend Oreille River on the way home from school.
At his trial January 3, 2002, charges against the young man, who represented himself in court, were dismissed (The Idaho Observer, January, 2002).
Playboy magazine discovered the story and ran it in September, 2002.
After the dismissal, young Krawiec proceeded with a civil case against Pend Oreille County for several civil rights violations -- including prosecuting him for a crime that does not exist in the state of Washington since possession of paraphernalia is only a crime if associated with the act of illegally consuming controlled substances.
In defense of itself the Pend Oreille County Deputy District Attorney Dennis Hicks exaggerated the amount of marijuana found in the film container. The judge had the police report right there. She knew Josh had not been charged with possession and she let the county attorney lie. There was nothing I could do about it but sit there and listen. By the time I left the courtroom, I was really mad, said Josh's father Joe Krawiec.
Not knowing what else to do, Sr. Krawiec set to work carving a 4-and-one-half-foot-tall extended middle finger out of some birch wood he cut off his own property. I wouldn't have spent 17 years on roofs if I had known I could carve, Krawiec said.
After completing the finger, a phenomenally well-crafted and expressive work of art that has been rubbed with linseed oil and bowling alley wax to a rich sheen, he took it to the Pend Oreille County Hall of Justice where he was photographed (see page 21). And now Krawiec, 49, describes himself as having come under the spell of the worst addiction of my life.
He has since completed eight pieces, some of which are currently being displayed at the Colville Arts Foundation in Colville, Wash., and the Good Works Gallery in Spokane, Wash. His work is being priced between $2,000 and $3,600 each.
The Krawiecs are still pursuing their civil remedies. They claim the ordeal of Josh's persecution was extremely disruptive of their family life. Since the state insists upon defending the indefensible nature of the county's actions in Josh's case, the Krawiecs feel obligated to take their case as far as it will go. At this time, they are suing the county for $50,517.17; We are suing Hicks for $5 million for lying in court, said Krawiec.
[photo in hard copy of The Idaho Observer]
Caption: The mushroom pictured is one of the eight carvings Joe Krawiec has completed since showing Pend Oreille County his middle finger last year (see page 21).
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