HeadsUp For Washington State - Oct. 17, 2013, Opinions

Thursday, October 17, 2013

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The Supreme Court of Washington filed 3 new opinions and Division Three of the Court of Appeals filed 1 new published opinion on Thursday, October 17, 2013:

Supreme Court

1. In re Disciplinary Proceeding Against Wickersham

No. 201,088-1

(October 17, 2013)

2013 Wash. LEXIS 857 

Areas: COURTS 

Brief: In an attorney discipline matter involving events during a time when the attorney was experiencing mental health issues, the hearing officer recommended disbarment, but the disciplinary board rejected some misconduct findings and reduced the sanction to a three-year suspension. The Supreme Court adopted the board's recommendation and ordered the attorney to complete a three-year suspension, and additional conditions, before resuming the practice of law. The record suggested that the attorney continued to experience mental health issues even at the time of his discipline hearing. The attorney’s condition prevented him from competently practicing law, with potentially serious injury to his clients. The attorney failed to establish at his hearing that he was ready to return to the practice of law. Given the seriousness of the misconduct and after considering appropriate aggravating and mitigating factors, as well as similar cases, the court imposed a three-year suspension. 

2. Freedom Foundation v. Gregoire

No. 86384-9

(October 17, 2013)

2013 Wash. LEXIS 858 


Brief: Washington's constitutional separation of powers creates a qualified gubernatorial communications privilege that functions as an exemption to the Public Records Act, chapter 42.56 RCW. The gubernatorial communications privilege, delegated along with supreme executive power and vested in the governorship, cabins the right to demand information through open government laws. The Public Records Act cannot override this constitutional delegation of power; any such attempt must come through constitutional amendment.


3. Washburn v. City of Federal Way

No. 87906-1

(October 17, 2013)

2013 Wash. LEXIS 856 




Brief: This case presented questions about the tort liability of a municipal corporation. A man murdered his partner after a municipal police officer served the man with an antiharassment order forbidding him to contact or remain near his partner. The partner’s two daughters filed suit against the municipality, alleging that the officer’s negligent service of the order resulted the partner’s death at the man’s hands. The Supreme Court held that the municipality had a duty to serve the antiharassment order on

the man and, because it had a duty to act, it had a duty to act with reasonable care in serving the order. When a municipal entity owes a duty to specific individuals, it must not discharge the duty negligently. 


Court of Appeals:


State v. Villanueva

No. 30836-7

(October 17, 2013)

2013 Wash. App. LEXIS 2479 






Brief: The State appealed the trial court's lost wages award to the defendant who successfully asserted self-defense in the State's prosecution for assault. The State contended the trial court erred because the defendant’s lost wages were not involved in his legal defense since the wage loss stemmed from his arrest four days before the State filed formal charges against him. Construing RCW 9A.16.110 to provide reimbursement for costs stemming from arrest charges referred by law enforcement to the State for formal charging and prosecution that results in a self-defense acquittal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.


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