HeadsUp for Washington State: Court Opinions From Thursday, February 13, 2014

HeadsUp for Washington State: Court Opinions From Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014 

To view the full text of these opinions, please visit: http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/index.cfm?fa=opinions.recent or Lexis subscribers may use the links below to access the cases on either lexis.com or Lexis Advance.

The Supreme Court filed 2 new opinions and Division Three of the Court of Appeals filed 1 new published opinion on Thursday, February 13, 2014:

Supreme Court:

1. State v. Garcia
No. 88020-4
(February 13, 2014)
2014 Wash. LEXIS 148 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. LEXIS 148 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: Insufficient evidence supported the “shield or hostage” and the “extreme mental distress” alternative means of kidnapping presented to the jury, and the trial court did not violate the defendant’s confrontation rights by limiting his cross-examination of an adverse witness, but the trial court erroneously admitted evidence of a prior crime of dishonesty, and the prosecutor incorrectly defined “burglary” during closing arguments.

2. State v. Gower
No. 88207-0
(February 13, 2014)
2014 Wash. LEXIS 149 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. LEXIS 149 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: In State v. Gresham, 173 Wn.2d 405 (2012), the Supreme Court invalidated RCW 10.58.090 and held that admission of otherwise inadmissible evidence under that statute is error subject to nonconstitutional harmless error analysis. The court also ruled that the admission of prior sex offense evidence is not harmless where credibility is a primary issue in a case and testimony regarding the prior sex offense features prominently at trial. The Court of Appeals below distinguished Gresham on the basis that the present case was a bench trial and the defendant could not overcome the presumption that the judge at a bench trial does not consider inadmissible evidence. The Court of Appeals erred. The presumption does not apply where, as here, the evidence was actually admissible under the law at the time of the judge's decision to admit it, and the judge affirmatively recognized its legal admissibility when admitting the evidence. Without that presumption, this case is indistinguishable from Gresham. The Supreme Court therefore held that the trial court's admission of evidence of the defendant's prior sex crimes constituted reversible error.

Court of Appeals:

State v. Bailey
No. 27489-6
(February 13, 2014)
2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 362 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 362 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: At 16 years of age, the defendant stipulated to a waiver of juvenile court jurisdiction and pleaded guilty to second degree robbery in adult court. The State later used this conviction as a “strike” under the persistent offender accountability provisions of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981, chapter 9.94A RCW. In an unpublished decision, the Court of Appeals concluded that the transfer of the defendant’s case to adult court was proper and, therefore, the robbery conviction could be used as a strike for purposes of persistent offender sentencing. The Supreme Court granted review and remanded the case for reconsideration in light of State v. Saenz, 175 Wn.2d 167 (2012), which identified two specific prerequisites for a valid transfer of juvenile court jurisdiction: (1) the juvenile must be fully informed of the rights and protections being waived and (2) the juvenile court must enter written findings in the record, including a finding that transfer is in the best interest of the juvenile or public. Adhering to the analysis and holding in Saenz, the Court of Appeals concluded that the defendant was not fully informed of the rights he waived and no written finding was entered that transfer was in the best interest of the juvenile or public. Accordingly, the persistent offender sentence was reversed. 

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