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Kenneth Wright received an unsolicited text message that appeared to come from an acquaintance inviting him to download Lyft's cellphone application. Wright sued as a putative class member. The federal district court has certified questions of Washington law to the Washington Supreme Court pertaining to the Washington Consumer Electronic Mail Act (CEMA) and the Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The questions centered on whether (1) the recipient of a text message that violates the CEMA has a private right of action for damages (as opposed to injunctive relief) directly under the statute; and (2) whether the liquidated damages provision of CEMA establish a causation and/or injury elements of a claim under the CPA, or must a recipient of a text in violation of CEMA prove injury-in-fact before s/he can recover the liquidated amount. The Washington Supreme Court answered "no" to the first question, and "yes" to the second. View "Wright v. Lyft, Inc." on Justia Law

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In February 2015, the city of Spokane (City) enacted an ordinance that granted a local property tax exemption to senior citizens and disabled veterans. Relying on a letter by the Washington Department of Revenue (DOR), the Spokane County assessor and treasurer (collectively County) refused to implement the ordinance, believing it to violate the Washington Constitution, Article VII, Sections 1, 9 and 10. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court in this case was whether the City's ordinance indeed violated the Washington Constitution's uniform property tax requirement. The trial court ruled that the ordinance was constitutional and issued a writ requiring the County to apply it. DOR filed a motion to intervene, and both DOR and the County appealed the trial court's ruling. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and held that the City's ordinance was unconstitutional. Agreeing with the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "City of Spokane v. Horton" on Justia Law

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Following a search of Marco Wences' car in 2003, the State charged him with possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with intent to manufacture or deliver. The State also alleged that Wences was armed with a firearm during the commission of the crime. A jury convicted Wences of all charges in 2005. The trial court instructed the jury that a firearm was a deadly weapon, and the jury answered "yes" to a special verdict form that asked whether Wences was "armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the commission of the crime." The question this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review was whether the rule announced in Washington v. Williams-Walker, 225 P.3d 913 (2010), applied to appellate review of Wences' 2015 sentence. Williams-Walker held that the Washington Constitution prohibited a sentencing court from imposing a firearm enhancement based on a deadly weapon special verdict finding. In 2005, Wences did not appear for a scheduled sentencing hearing. Concluding that Wences "should not benefit from changes in the law that apply to him solely because he absconded and delayed his sentencing," the Court of Appeals affirmed the superior court's decision to impose the firearm enhancement based on pre-Williams-Walker law. The Washington Supreme Court held, however, that this result was impermissible under settled law. The Court therefore reversed the appellate court and remanded this case for resentencing consistent with Williams-Walker. View "Washington v. Wences" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court’s review centered on application of RCW 9.73.030 of the Washington privacy act to an inadvertent recording on a cell phone voice mail of a domestic violence assault. The Court held that the recording in this case did not contain a "conversation" within the meaning of the privacy act. Further, even if the recorded verbal exchange here could be considered a private conversation within the privacy act, nevertheless an exception contained in the privacy act applies, rendering the recording admissible. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals to the extent it held otherwise. View "Washington v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Anthony Joseph was convicted of second degree criminal trespass as a lesser included offense of second degree vehicle prowling. He challenged his conviction on the ground that unlawful entry into a vehicle is not a trespass "in or upon premises of another." This case presented a “challenging” question of statutory interpretation because of the overlapping and intersecting definitions of "building" and "premises" in Title 9A RCW. The Court of Appeals affirmed Joseph's conviction, concluding that a vehicle was a "premises" for the purpose of the second degree trespass statute because a vehicle is a type of "building" and "premises" includes "any building." The Washington Supreme Court concluded the legislature plainly intended second degree criminal trespass to encompass trespass into any "building" as defined in the criminal code, RCW 9A.04.110(5), save for trespass into a building in its ordinary sense. This interpretation properly restricts first degree trespass to unlawful entries into ordinary "buildings," a descriptor that needed no further definition. The more severe charge (a gross misdemeanor) was justified by the increased likelihood of trespass into a home or business. All other trespasses fall under the term "premises" and are treated as simple misdemeanors. RCW 9A.52.080. This includes trespasses into premises that are "buildings" broadly conceived, but are not ordinarily thought of as buildings—as relevant here, vehicles. View "Washington v. Joseph" on Justia Law

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In 2015, a Chelan County deputy sheriff arrested Robert Bowie for driving while under the influence (DUI). Bowie received appropriate RCW 46.20.308 warnings about his right to refuse a breath test, signed the implied consent form, and agreed to take that breath test. But 20 minutes later, just before administering the test, the deputy asked Bowie if he would provide a "voluntary" sample. This time Bowie declined. The State charged Bowie with DUI plus a refusal enhancement. The district court granted Bowie's motion to suppress evidence of his refusal. It ruled that the deputy's statement that the test was "voluntary" was "inaccurate[]" and "potentially" misleading. The Superior Court then denied the State's interlocutory petition for a writ of review. The Washington Supreme Court granted direct review of that decision and affirmed. The Supreme Court held RCW 7.16.040 governed the availability of the writ of review in superior court. This statutory writ of certiorari is an "extraordinary remedy." Superior court review via writ was not available in this case. View "Washington v. Chelan County Dist. Court" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Washington Supreme Court was whether the superior court erred in ruling that 29A.80.061 was invalid under the First Amendment. Also at issue was whether the bill containing the statute violated the single subject or subject in title requirements of article II, section 19 of the Washington Constitution. RCW 29A.80.061 requires political parties to elect, rather than appoint, legislative district chairs for each legislative district. Appellant Andrew Pilloud, acting pro se, sought to enforce the statute against the King County Republican Central Committee (Committee), which, by bylaw, had long chosen to appoint its legislative district chairs. The superior court concluded that the statute violated a political party's right to free association under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Pilloud appealed this decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding RCW 29A.80.061 violated the Committee's freedom of association. View "Pilloud v. King County Republican Cent. Comm." on Justia Law

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A question of Washington law was certified to the Washington Supreme Court on whether prospective employers are free to engage in retaliatory discrimination in the hiring process. Waterville School District No. 209 hired Jin Zhu as a math teacher in 2006. In 2010, Waterville issued a notice of probable cause for Zhu's discharge, which he appealed. The hearing officer determined that there was not probable cause for discharge and restored Zhu to his position. Zhu then sued Waterville in federal district court, alleging that Waterville had subjected him to racially motivated disparate treatment, a hostile work environment, and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. sections 1983, 2000e-2, and 2000e-3. His complaint alleged that he filed multiple grievances with Waterville regarding hostile and abusive actions by his students; instead of attempting to remedy the situation, Zhu alleged Waterville took retaliatory actions against him for filing the grievances, including attempting to discharge him without probable cause. After the district court denied Waterville's motion for summary judgment dismissal, the parties settled and Zhu resigned from Waterville in March 2012. Three months after resigning from Waterville, Zhu applied for a position as a "Math-Science Specialist" with ESD 171. Zhu was one of three candidates interviewed, but ESD 171 ultimately hired a different candidate, whom Zhu claims was far less qualified for the position. Zhu sued ESD 171 in federal district court, alleging that it refused to hire him in retaliation for his prior lawsuit against Waterville, thereby violating WLAD's antiretaliation statute, RCW 49.60.210(1), as well as other state and federal laws. The Washington Supreme Court held that in accordance with the plain language of the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), chapter 49.60 RCW, retaliatory discrimination against job applicants by prospective employers was prohibited. Therefore, plaintiff Jin Zhu's claim that defendant North Central Educational Service District - ESD 171 (ESD 171) refused to hire him because of his opposition to his former employer's racial discrimination stated a valid cause of action. View "Zhu v. N. Cent. Educ. Serv. District" on Justia Law

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An officer from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife saw respondent Eric Cruz illegally "snag" a salmon in the Similkameen River. McCormick arrested Cruz for this misdemeanor fishing violation. The officer handcuffed Cruz, searched his body, and found no weapons, but further questioned the handcuffed Cruz about whether he had weapons elsewhere. Cruz truthfully acknowledged that he had firearms in his truck. A still-handcuffed Cruz was locked in the back of the patrol car while the officer removed three guns from Cruz's truck. The officer did not have, and never sought, a search warrant. The State subsequently charged Cruz, who had a prior felony, with three counts of second degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Cruz moved to suppress the firearms. The trial court agreed with Cruz. The State then moved to dismiss. The trial court granted that motion and dismissed with prejudice. The State then appealed the suppression order, but not the dismissal order. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Washington Supreme Court granted review to decide whether the rule of Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 343, (2009),and Washington v. Snapp, 275 P.3d 289 (2012) was the controlling case law in this matter, or whether the rule of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), as extended to vehicles in Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032 (1983) provided the framework for analysis instead. But a procedural issue became apparent after the Washington Supreme Court granted review. The State's failure to assign error to the order of dismissal. The Court surmised there were three critical problems with the State's appeal in a situation like this: first, the State failed to assign error to the order of dismissal, in violation of RAP 10.3(a)(4); the State failed to brief and argue the propriety of the order of dismissal, in violation of another RAP (RAP 10.3(a)(6)); and the State was the party that "invited" the trial court to enter the dismissal order that it complained about here. Characterizing the "notice of appeal [as being] from the order of suppression and dismissal," as the amended notice of appeal did, fails to solve these invited error, failure to brief, and failure to assign error problems. Here, even if the Supreme Court reversed the suppression order, "the case below would still be at an end." The Court thus dismissed this appeal. View "Washington v. Cruz" on Justia Law

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Yakima County Clerk Janelle Riddle appealed a trial court's ruling that five out of the six recall charges filed against her were factually and legally sufficient. Riddle was elected on in late 2014, defeating incumbent Kim Eaton. Riddle attributed many of the challenges she faced to Yakima County's early adoption of new case management software called “Odyssey.” Yakima County had received approval to be "an early adopter site" for Odyssey about a year before Riddle's election. Odyssey was implemented in November 2015. And although most of the early adopter sites for Odyssey encountered some difficulties in its implementation, the Yakima County Clerk's Office had the most difficulty making the transition. Another source of difficulty for Riddle has been her ongoing disagreement with other Yakima County officials, particularly the superior court judges, about the scope of Riddle's powers and duties as clerk. This disagreement prompted the Yakima County Superior Court to pass five new local administrative rules regarding the powers and duties of the clerk on an emergency basis. In May 2017, about two and a half years into Riddle's four-year term, the recall petitioners filed a statement of charges against Riddle, largely alleging Riddle failed to transmit court orders as required by statute, refused to perform in-court duties and threatened to shut down the Yakima County Superior Court, and failed to properly collect and account for clerk's office revenue. The Washington Supreme Court granted the recall petitioners' motion for accelerated review and found the five remaining recall charges legally sufficient. View "In re Recall of Riddle" on Justia Law