HeadsUp for Washington State: Court Opinions From Thursday, April 10, 2014

HeadsUp for Washington State: Court Opinions From Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 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 of Washington filed 3 new opinions and Division Three of the Court of Appeals filed 2 new published opinions on Thursday, April 10, 2014:

Supreme Court:

1. State v. Kinnaman
No. 89342-0
(April 10, 2014)
2014 Wash. LEXIS 308 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. LEXIS 308 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: CRIMINAL LAW

Brief: The defendant pleaded guilty in February 2012 to attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle. He also agreed to a special finding that supported a sentence enhancement. At sentencing, the defendant moved to withdraw his agreement to the sentencing enhancement only. The trial court denied the motion and sentenced the defendant. The Court of Appeals found the plea involuntary and indivisible and reversed, remanding the matter to the trial court for vacation of the entire plea. The Supreme Court disagreed with the holding of the Court of Appeals that the entire plea should be vacated; neither party sought that result. Therefore, the Court of Appeals was reversed and the trial court's order denying the defendant’s motion to withdraw his agreement to the special finding was affirmed.

2. State v. Mendes
No. 88945-7 
(April 10, 2014)
2014 Wash. LEXIS 306 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. LEXIS 306 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: CRIMINAL LAW

Brief: The central issue in this case was whether the defendant was “compelled” to waive his constitutional right not to testify as a witness in his own criminal case after the trial court refused to rule on whether the evidence presented during the State’s case in chief entitled the defendant to an instruction on self-defense. The defendant challenged his conviction of felony murder based on allegations that he shot and killed the victim after an altercation at the victim’s home. At trial, the defendant’s theory of the case was that he acted in self-defense after the victim came at him with a baseball bat. After the State rested, defense counsel asked the court to make a preliminary ruling on whether enough evidence had been presented through the State’s witnesses to warrant a self-defense instruction. Counsel explained that the defendant did not wish to testify unless the court found that more testimony was necessary on this issue. The State objected, and the trial court declined to rule on the defendant's request. The defendant then testified on his own behalf. The defendant was convicted of felony murder. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court improperly compelled him to testify when it declined to rule on whether the State’s evidence alone entitled him to a self-defense instruction. The Court of Appeals rejected this argument and held that the defendant was not entitled to an advisory ruling on jury instructions before the close of all the evidence and that the defendant’s decision to testify was voluntary and tactical. The Supreme Court affirmed.

3. Town of Woodway v. Snohomish County
No. 88405-6
(April 10, 2014)
2014 Wash. LEXIS 307 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. LEXIS 307 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: GOVERNMENT RELATIONS AND ADMINISTRATIVE LAW; PROPERTY AND LAND USE LAW

Brief: In Washington, developers have a vested right to have their development proposals processed under land use plans and development regulations in effect at the time a complete permit application is filed. The vested rights doctrine applies as well to permit applications filed under plans and regulations later found to be noncompliant with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), chapter 43.21C RCW. Local land use plans and development regulations enacted under the Growth Management Act (GMA), chapter 36.70A RCW, are presumed valid upon adoption. Should a valid plan or regulation later be found to violate SEPA, the exclusive remedies provided by the GMA affect only future applications for development, not development rights that have already vested.

Court of Appeals:

1. State v. Holcomb
No. 70396-0
(April 10, 2014)
2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 797 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 797 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: CRIMINAL LAW

Brief: The defendant appealed his conviction of second degree assault. He contended he was denied his constitutional right to jury unanimity. The Court of Appeals disagreed. The defendant also contended that the accomplice liability statute is unconstitutional because it criminalizes constitutionally protected speech. The Court of Appeals held that RCW 9A.08.020 is constitutional. Accordingly, the defendant’s conviction was affirmed.

2. State v. Pearson
No. 31132-5 
(April 10, 2014)
2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 795 (lexis.com)

2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 795 (Lexis Advance)

Areas: CRIMINAL LAW

Brief: The State appealed the trial court's decision to vacate the jury's special finding that the defendant delivered a controlled substance—hydrocodone—within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop. The court reasoned a school official was required to validate the bus stops. Because the admission of a map overlay showing the bus stops violated confrontation principles, the Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court and affirmed.

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