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HeadsUp for Washington State: Court Opinions From Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

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The Supreme Court of Washington filed 2 new opinions and Division Three of the Court of Appeals filed 2 new published opinions on Thursday, March 19, 2015:

Supreme Court:

1. State v. Bruch
No. 90021-3      
(March 19, 2015)
2015 Wash. LEXIS 298 (

2015 Wash. LEXIS 298 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: Defendant's sentence was not indeterminate under RCW 9.94A.030(18) and the court-imposed term of community custody did not violate RCW 9.94A.701(1) merely due to the fact he could earn early release under RCW 9.94A.729(5)(a) in lieu of community custody because the trial court reduced the term of community custody under RCW 9.94A.701(9) and imposed a fixed, four-month term so that the total term of confinement and community custody did not exceed the 120-month statutory maximum for the crime of conviction.

2. State v. Shale
No. 90906-7      
(March 19, 2015)
2015 Wash. LEXIS 297 (

2015 Wash. LEXIS 297 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: Washington State has the power to prosecute an enrolled member of another Indian tribe living on the Quinault Indian Nation's reservation for failing to register with the county sheriff as a sex offender under RCW 9A.44.130(1)(a) because RCW 37.12.010 carves out from state authority only Indians when on their tribal lands, not tribal members while on another tribe's land; prosecuting a nonmember living on tribal land does not infringe on the right of the tribe to make its own laws and be ruled by them; and the Quinault tribe is free to bring its own prosecution if it wishes.

Court of Appeals:

1. Stephens v. State
No. 31162-7     
(March 19, 2015)
2015 Wash. App. LEXIS 563 (

2015 Wash. App. LEXIS 563 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: Court properly denied the convicted offender's directed verdict request in the false imprisonment case because the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) properly set an early release date under RCW 9.94A.729(1); the sentencing court's later sentencing amendment granting the offender's request did not retroactively render DOC's initial calculations unlawful; and after receiving the amended judgment and sentence, DOC released the offender in a reasonable period of time.

2. Johnson v. Ryan
(March 19, 2015)
2015 Wash. App. LEXIS 564 (

2015 Wash. App. LEXIS 564 (Lexis Advance)


Brief: The defendant engaged in vitriolic Internet blogging against the plaintiff, and the plaintiff sued the defendant for defamation and tortious interference with business expectancy. The defendant defended the suit, in part, by asserting the anti-SLAPP statute. As permitted by that statute, the defendant filed a prediscovery motion to strike, arguing that the plaintiff's claims should be dismissed because the defendant's speech was protected speech in that his attacks against the plaintiff were matters of public concern. The trial court agreed and dismissed the claims. The Court of Appeals reverses, holding that the defendant's blogging was primarily for personal concern, not public concern.

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