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The trial court denied Wesley Weyand's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a Terry stop. In this case, the Washington Supreme Court held that the facts known to the police did not justify stopping Weyand and the evidence discovered during that encounter should have been suppressed. The Court therefore reversed the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court. View "Washington v. Weyand" on Justia Law

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Travis Lile appealed his convictions for multiple assaults and resisting arrest. A jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that Lile, acting as the aggressor, attacked Christopher Rowles and Amanda Millman and then struck Bellingham Police Officer Jeremy Woodward while the officer attempted to arrest Lile for assaulting Rowles and Millman. The Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions. The Washington Supreme Court granted Lile's petition for review and the State's cross petition for review on two issues: (1) judicial disqualification; and (2) the trial court's exclusion of evidence impeaching Rowles' asserted nonviolent nature. Finding no reversible error by the Court of Appeals affirmance of the trial court’s judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Washington v. Lile" on Justia Law

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Petitioner John Johnson challenged the sufficiency of the evidence in an appeal of conviction for second-degree theft of an access device. The outcome turned on the Washington Supreme Court’s determination of whether Musacchio v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 709 (2016) superseded its decision in Washington v. Hickman, 954 P.2d 900 (1998). Under Hickman, the State must establish all elements it agrees to include in the to-convict instruction, even if not required by statute, because unchallenged instructions become the "law of the case." In Musacchio, the Supreme Court rejected a "law of the case" argument and held that due process requires only that evidentiary sufficiency claims "be assessed against the elements of the charged crime, not against the erroneously heightened command in the jury instruction." Here, the jury was instructed that an element of the theft charge included Johnson's intent "to deprive the [victim] of the access device." The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, holding Musacchio superseded Washington’s “law of the case” doctrine. The Washington Supreme Court disagreed, finding the State did not demonstrate that the "law of the case" doctrine was incorrect and harmful, or that its legal underpinnings have been eroded. Accordingly, the Court held the State was required to prove Johnson specifically intended to steal an access device. Because sufficient evidence supports this element, the Court affirmed Johnson's conviction. View "Washington v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The issue presented by this case was whether Washington's Zackery Lystedt Law (Lystedt law), RCW 28A.600.190, gave rise to an implied cause of action. The Lystedt law's purpose was to reduce the risk of further injury or death to youth athletes who suffered concussions in the state of Washington. Andrew Swank (Drew) died from complications after contact with another player during a high school football game. Drew reported having neck pain and headaches. Drew would play again, but the quality of his play "sharply declined." During the game, Coach Jim Puryear called Drew over to the sidelines, where he grabbed Drew's face mask and, according to Drew's father, "began to jerk it up and down hard while he screamed at [Drew], 'What are you doing out there, what are you doing out there?"' Drew returned to the game, where he was hit by an opposing player. He suffered head injuries and staggered to the sideline, where he collapsed. Drew died two days later. Drew's parents sued Drew's school, the football coach, and Drew's doctor on behalf of his estate and individually. The trial court granted summary judgment against the Swanks on all claims, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Washington Supreme Court held that an implied cause of action does arise from the Lystedt law. As a result, the Swanks' claims that Valley Christian School (VCS) and Coach Puryear violated the Lystedt law could proceed. The Court also held that the evidence against the coach was sufficient to permit a jury to find liability against the coach, despite the limited volunteer immunity protecting him. Consequently, the Court reinstated the Swanks' common law negligence claims against the coach. Finally, the Court held the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over Drew's doctor. View "Swank v. Valley Christian School" on Justia Law

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Two-year-old Derrick Smelser was run over while playing in his yard by a car driven by the defendant, Jeanne Paul. At trial, Paul was allowed to assert an affirmative defense that the child's father was partially at fault based on negligent supervision of the child. Instructed under RCW 4.22.070, the jury determined the father was 50 percent at fault. However, the trial court refused to enter judgment against the father based on the parental immunity doctrine. The result was that the child's recovery against the driver was reduced by 50 percent. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Washington Supreme Court reversed, holding that under chapter 4.22 RCW and Washington case law, no tort or fault exists based on the claim of negligent supervision by a parent. View "Smelser v. Paul" on Justia Law

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This case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review an award of attorney fees against five surety companies following a jury trial for breach of contract in a public works project. The parties litigated the issue of whether three construction firms had defaulted on a contract, thus triggering coverage under a performance bond issued by the surety companies. At issue was whether the existence of a statutory fee provision barred equitable remedies available at common law for coverage disputes and whether the trial court correctly determined that segregation between covered and uncovered fees was impossible. The Court of Appeals affirmed the award of Olympic Steamship fees and held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the fees could not be segregated. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed. View "King County v. Vinci Constr. Grands Projets" on Justia Law

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Trial courts must engage in a full Batson analysis when a peremptory strike of a juror is the only member of a cognizable racial group. In 2013, Petitioner Matthew Erickson, a black man, was charged in Seattle Municipal Court with unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest. After voir dire, the city of Seattle (City) exercised a peremptory challenge against the only black juror on the jury panel. After the jury was empaneled and excused from the courthouse with the rest of the venire, Erickson objected to the peremptory challenge, claiming the strike was racially motivated. The court found that there was no prima facie showing of racial discrimination and overruled Erickson's objection. Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, (1986), guarantees a jury selection process free from racial animus. Yet, the Washington Supreme Court noted that Washington's Batson protections were "not robust enough" to effectively combat racial discrimination during jury selection. The Court used the opportunity of this opinion to "better effectuate the equal protection guaranties espoused in Batson." The Court amended Washington's Batson framework and held that the peremptory strike of a juror who is the only member of a cognizable racial group constitutes a prima facie showing of racial discrimination requiring a full Batson analysis by the trial court. View "City of Seattle v. Erickson" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Chelan Basin Conservancy (Conservancy) sought the removal of six acres of fill material that respondent GBI Holding Co. added to its property in 1961 to keep the formerly dry property permanently above the artificially raised seasonal water fluctuations of Lake Chelan. At issue was whether the State consented to the fill's impairment of that right and, if so, whether such consent violated the public trust doctrine. After review, the Washington Supreme Court found the Court of Appeals correctly concluded that the legislature consented to the fill's impairment of navigable waters under RCW 90.58.270 (the Savings Clause), but the Court of Appeals prematurely concluded such consent did not violate the public trust doctrine. Because the trial court never reached the highly factual public trust issue, the Court reversed and remanded to the trial court to determine in the first instance whether RCW 90.58.270 violated the public trust doctrine. View "Chelan Basin Conservancy v. GBI Holding Co." on Justia Law

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Esmeralda Rodriguez petitioned for protection on behalf of her two-year-old son, arguing that Luis Zavala's repeated threats against her son constituted "domestic violence" under the plain language of RCW 26.50.010(3), and that she could petition for a protection order on her son's behalf based on her reasonable fear for him. Rodriguez feared Zavala would make good on his past threats and kill her, her daughters, their son, and then kill himself. Rodriguez petitioned ex parte for a domestic violence protection order for herself and her children, including L.Z. In her petition, Rodriguez described the assault that compelled her to seek the order, as well as Zavala's history of violence. The court issued a temporary order pending a full hearing. The temporary order restrained Zavala from contacting Rodriguez and all four children. The trial court issued a protective order for Rodriguez and her daughters, but excluded L.Z., explaining that the boy was not "present" during the assault or threatened at all. According to the trial judge, "[L.Z.] wasn't involved in any of this." Rodriguez appealed. Among other things, she argued that her son should have been included in the final protection order based on her fear that Zavala would hurt L.Z. The Washington Supreme Court agreed that Rodriguez could petition for protection of L.Z. under the plain language of RCW 26.50.010(3), and reversed the trial court's decision. View "Rodriguez v. Zavala" on Justia Law

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While driving in Sunnyside, Washington, petitioner Andreas Gonzalez was stopped for speeding by Sergeant Scott Bailey. Gonzalez was driving a BMW with California license plates. Although Gonzalez had a Washington driver's license, the car was registered in California in another person's name. Bailey determined that Gonzalez's license was suspended and therefore placed him under arrest. Bailey became suspicious that Gonzalez was involved in criminal activity. Officer Skip Lemmon arrived with his canine partner to assist in the impound process. Gonzalez consented to a search of the car, which turned up a "[s]treet level amount, user amount" of cocaine and $5,940. The officers suspected that both the car and the money were connected to an illegal drug transaction, and seized both the car and money, and the city of Sunnyside (City) sought forfeiture. Gonzalez had no prior arrests or convictions for any drug-related activity, although he did ultimately plead guilty in superior court to one charge of possession of a controlled substance for the cocaine that was discovered in the car. Gonzalez testified at the forfeiture hearing that several days earlier, he had gone to California to visit relatives who offered t sell the BMW to Gonzalez, who wanted to buy it but did not have enough money with him. Gonzalez returned to Washington only two days before Gonzalez was pulled over, and the $5,940 was intended to pay for the car. The issue presented for the Washington Supreme Court’s review was whether there was substantial evidence that the car and money were connected to drug manufacturing or distribution such that they were subject to forfeiture. The Sunnyside Municipal Court, acting as a hearing examiner, said yes. The Yakima County Superior Court, acting in its appellate capacity, said no and reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed and reinstated the forfeiture order. The Washington Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, vacated the forfeiture order, and granted Gonzalez's request for attorney fees. View "City of Sunnyside v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law