HeadsUp for Washington State: Court Opinions From Thursday, February 6, 2014

HeadsUp for Washington State: Court Opinions From Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 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 5 new opinions on Thursday, February 6, 2014:

1. Ellensburg Cement Products, Inc. v. Kittitas County
No. 88165-1
(February 6, 2014)
2014 Wash. LEXIS 73 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. LEXIS 73 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: The county’s SEPA appeal procedure did not comport with state law. A statute states that the county must provide “no more than one” open record hearing, which on its face encompasses both “one” and “none.” But the statutory scheme as a whole makes clear that the county must provide at least one open record hearing that includes testimony under oath. Because the county did not provide such an open record hearing in this case, the Court of Appeals correctly held that the county's procedure violated state law. The Court of Appeals also correctly held that rock crushing was not a permitted use on the property owner’s land under the zoning regulations in place at the time.

2. Jametsky v. Olsen
No. 88215-1
(February 6, 2014)
2014 Wash. LEXIS 75 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. LEXIS 75 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: For purposes of the distressed property conveyances act, chapter 61.34 RCW, property can be distressed under RCW 61.34.020(2)(a) before a certificate of delinquency is issued.


 3. Ockletree v. Franciscan Health System

No. 88218-5
(February 6, 2014)
2014 Wash. LEXIS 76 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. LEXIS 76 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: The exemption of nonprofit religious organizations from the definition of“employer” under the Washington Law Against Discrimination, chapter 49.60 RCW, does not facially violate article I, section 11 or article I, section 12 of the Washington Constitution but is unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiff claiming that the religious non-profit organization that discharged him from employment discriminated against him for reasons wholly unrelated to any religious purpose, practice, or activity.


4. State v. Kipp
No. 88083-2
(February 6, 2014)
2014 Wash. LEXIS 77 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. LEXIS 77 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: For purposes of the privacy act, chapter 9.73 RCW, when facts are undisputed, the question of whether a particular communication is private is a matter of law reviewed de novo. In this case, the defendant’s conversation with his brother-in-law was private and therefore should have been suppressed.


5. State v. Peña Fuentes
No. 88422-6
(February 6, 2014)
2014 Wash. LEXIS 74 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. LEXIS 74 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: The Sixth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant the right to assistance of counsel, which includes the right to confer privately with that counsel. State intrusion into private conversations is a blatant violation of a foundational right. The court strongly condemns “the odious practice of eavesdropping on privileged communication between attorney and client.” State v. Cory, 62 Wn.2d 371, 378 (1963). It is presumed that such eavesdropping is prejudicial to a defendant and the courts have vacated criminal convictions when there was no way to isolate the prejudice to the defendant from such “shocking and unpardonable conduct.” In this case, the court was asked whether a conviction must be vacated even if it were shown that the eavesdropping did not result in any prejudice to the defendant—in other words, whether the presumption of prejudice from such eavesdropping is rebuttable. That question was crucial in this case because here, the police detective eavesdropped on attorney-client conversations after the trial was complete and the jury had found the defendant guilty. Thus, while the conduct was unconscionable, there was no way for the eavesdropping to have any effect on the trial itself. Further, the prosecutor submitted a declaration stating that the detective on the case never communicated any information about the attorney-client conversations to the prosecution. In light of these circumstances, the court held that the eavesdropping is presumed to have caused prejudice to the defendant unless the State can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the eavesdropping did not result in any such prejudice. In this case, the record did not provide enough information to make that determination. Thus, the case was remanded for additional discovery. 

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