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Zaida Yesenia Cardenas-Flores did not make a corpus delicti objection at trial, raising it for the first time on appeal. Cardenas-Flores and Carlos Austin brought their infant son, C.A., to the emergency room. They reported that earlier that night, Austin had accidentally rolled over onto C.A.' s leg while they were sleeping near each other on a bed. Both parents were concerned that C.A. had been injured as a result of the rollover. A doctor examined C.A. and ordered X-rays, noting some initial swelling and tenderness around his left leg. After reviewing the X-rays, the doctor reported that "everything looked normal." Less than a week later, the child was again rushed to the emergency room complaining of leg pain. The doctor found a displaced femur fracture that should have shown healing since the initial ER visit days earlier. The doctor concluded the rollover incident could not have injured C.A, and contacted Child Protective Services. Upon questioning, Cardenas-Flores admitted to police that she tried to take her son out of his car seat too fast, which could have caused the fracture. She was ultimately charged with second-degree child assault. At trial, she denied pushing her son's leg or pulling him from his car seat too quickly. She claimed that she lied to appease the police and that her confession was false. A jury convicted Cardenas-Flores, and the court sentenced her to 31 months in prison, the bottom of the standard sentencing range. The Washington Supreme Court disagreed with the Court of Appeals, holding that a criminal defendant may raise corpus delicti for the first time on appeal as a sufficiency of the evidence challenge. On the merits of Cardenas-Flores's claims, the Court held the State presented sufficient evidence to establish the corpus delicti and all elements of the crime charged, and rejected her challenge to the jury instructions. Accordingly, the Court affirmed her conviction. View "Washington v. Cardenas-Flores" on Justia Law

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In 2011, when he was 26 years old, Troy Belcher was civilly committed as a sexually violent predator. In 2015, the superior court ordered that he continue to be indefinitely committed, based on two sexually violent crimes he perpetrated as a juvenile, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder with high levels of psychopathy, and a finding that he was more likely than not to recommit if released. The Washington Supreme Court has held that juvenile offenses may be predicate offenses when an adult has committed a more recent sexually overt act. However, the had not yet ruled on whether commitment can be continued using juvenile crimes as the sole predicate offenses. Belcher argued commitment under this act violates due process because it has the potential to permanently confine a person for a juvenile offense. However, because of the robust commitment procedure, confining individuals only so long as they are a danger to society, the Supreme Court disagreed. The Court held juvenile convictions could be predicate offenses for continued commitment proceedings under RCW 71.09.090. Furthermore, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder is sufficient for a finding of mental abnormality under the statute, and that the use of an actuarial tool grounded in both sexual and nonsexual offenses does not violate due process when applied to a sexually violent offender. View "In re Det. of Belcher" on Justia Law

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In 2011, when he was 26 years old, Troy Belcher was civilly committed as a sexually violent predator. In 2015, the superior court ordered that he continue to be indefinitely committed, based on two sexually violent crimes he perpetrated as a juvenile, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder with high levels of psychopathy, and a finding that he was more likely than not to recommit if released. The Washington Supreme Court has held that juvenile offenses may be predicate offenses when an adult has committed a more recent sexually overt act. However, the had not yet ruled on whether commitment can be continued using juvenile crimes as the sole predicate offenses. Belcher argued commitment under this act violates due process because it has the potential to permanently confine a person for a juvenile offense. However, because of the robust commitment procedure, confining individuals only so long as they are a danger to society, the Supreme Court disagreed. The Court held juvenile convictions could be predicate offenses for continued commitment proceedings under RCW 71.09.090. Furthermore, a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder is sufficient for a finding of mental abnormality under the statute, and that the use of an actuarial tool grounded in both sexual and nonsexual offenses does not violate due process when applied to a sexually violent offender. View "In re Det. of Belcher" on Justia Law

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This case centered on Seattle Ordinance 124833 (Ordinance), which imposed a "Firearms and Ammunition Tax" on each firearm and round of ammunition sold within the city limits. Its stated purpose was to raise revenue for public health research relating to gun violence and to fund related social programs. Two individual gun purchasers, Phillip Watson and Ray Carter (collectively, “Watson”) filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of the Ordinance, arguing the Ordinance was actually a regulation, not a tax, and was preempted by RCW 9.41.290 in any case. Watson also argued that even if the Ordinance was a tax, it exceeded Seattle's delegated taxing authority. The Superior Court ruled in favor of Seattle, holding that the Ordinance imposed an authorized tax and that it was not preempted. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed: a charge intended to raise revenue for the public benefit is a tax. “While courts should be dubious of regulations masquerading as taxes (and vice versa), in this case Watson offers no convincing evidence that the Ordinance has a regulatory purpose or intent. It is a tax.” RCW 9.41.290 preempted only municipal gun “regulation,” not taxation. View "Watson v. City of Seattle" on Justia Law

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Weyerhaeuser Company challenged an award of industrial insurance benefits to its former employee, Roger Street, for his low back condition, a claimed occupational disease. Weyerhaeuser argued that a worker must present expert medical testimony that the disease "arises naturally" out of employment. The Court of Appeals rejected Weyerhaeuser's argument, holding that the controlling case law required Street to present expert medical testimony to show that his back condition "arose naturally" from employment. Because there was medical testimony supporting the "arises proximately" requirement and lay testimony supporting the "arises naturally" requirement, the appeals court held that Street proved his low back condition was an occupational disease and affirmed the jury award of benefits. Finding no reversible error in the Court of Appeals’ decision, the Washington Supreme Court affirmed. View "Street v. Weyerhaeuser Co." on Justia Law

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Brandon Bigsby failed to undergo a chemical dependency evaluation after he was released from jail on community custody as ordered by the trial court. Both the Department of Corrections and the trial court sanctioned him for failing to comply with the court's order. At issue was whether the trial court was authorized under RCW 9.94B.040 to sanction Bigsby for sentence violations committed while he was on community custody under the Department's supervision for a 2014 crime. The Washington Supreme Court held it did not and reversed. View "Washington v. Bigsby" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether a court could require a probationer convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) to submit to random urinalysis testing (UAs) for controlled substances. In 2014, Brittanie Olsen pleaded guilty to one count of DUI, a gross misdemeanor offense. The court imposed a sentence of 364 days of confinement with 334 days suspended. As a condition of her suspended sentence, the court ordered that Olsen not consume alcohol, marijuana, or nonprescribed drugs. Over defense objection, the court also required Olsen to submit to "random urine analysis screens ... to ensure compliance with conditions regarding the consumption of alcohol and controlled substances." Olsen appealed, arguing that the random UAs requirement violated her privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 7 of the Washington Constitution. She contended a warrantless search of a misdemeanant probationer may not be random but instead "must be supported by a well-founded suspicion that the probationer has violated a condition of her sentence." The court agreed, vacated Olsen's sentence, and remanded to the district court for resentencing without the requirement that Olsen submit to random urine tests. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Washington Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals, finding the testing did not violate article I, section 7 where urinalysis was authorized to monitor compliance with a valid probation condition requiring Olsen to refrain from drug and alcohol consumption. View "Washington v. Olsen" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Cecily McFarland of first degree burglary, ten counts of theft of a firearm, and three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. The trial court imposed standard range sentences on each count and, relying on RCW 9.41.040(6) and 9.94A.589(l)(c), ordered the firearm-related sentences be served concurrently as to the burglary sentence but consecutively as to each other. This resulted in a total sentence of 237 months. McFarland appealed, arguing for the first time that the sentencing court erred by failing to recognize its discretion to impose an exceptional mitigated sentence by running the firearm-related sentences concurrently based on the rationale of In re Pers. Restraint of Mulholland,166 P.3d 677 (2007). The Court of Appeals refused to consider this issue, noting that the sentencing judge "cannot have erred for failing to do something he was never asked to do." After its review, the Washington Supreme Court concluded the statutory analysis supporting the Supreme Court’s decision in Mulholland, which involved sentencing for multiple serious violent felonies under subsection (l)(b) of RCW 9.94A.589, applied equally to sentencing for multiple firearm-related offenses under subsection (1)(c). The Court therefore remanded this case for resentencing to allow the trial court the opportunity to consider whether to impose a mitigated sentence by running McFarland's thirteen firearm-related sentences concurrently. View "Washington v. McFarland" on Justia Law

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This case involved the transfer of property that once belonged to Vanessa Ward, now in possession of Selene RMOF II REO Acquisitions II LLC (“Selene”), which acquired the property in 2012 from a purchaser at a nonjudicial foreclosure sale. It also concerned Ward's claim that she was the victim of mortgage fraud regarding the property in 2004 and that all subsequent property transfers were therefore void. Selene challenged an unpublished Court of Appeals decision reversing an order granting Selene a writ of restitution evicting Ward from the property. At issue was: (1) whether Selene was authorized to bring an unlawful detainer action as a purchaser from someone who had bought the property at a nonjudicial foreclosure sale; and (2) whether the summary procedures of unlawful detainer were available where Ward asserted ownership of the property she occupied via an unrecorded quitclaim deed. The Washington Supreme Court held unlawful detainer was available to Selene under the circumstances of this case and reversed the Court of Appeals. View "Selene RMOF II Reo Acquisitions II, LLC v. Ward" on Justia Law

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Former clients sued their attorneys for legal malpractice based, in part, on the attorneys' withdrawal from a prior ease. But the attorneys obtained that withdrawal by court order. In the original case, the former clients appealed the court's order approving withdrawal, and that appeal was rejected. The attorneys thus argued collateral estoppel applied to bar a malpractice action based on their withdrawal. The Washington Supreme Court agreed: withdrawal by court order in an earlier proceeding was dispositive in a later malpractice suit against the attorney. Although other malpractice complaints unrelated to the withdrawal would not be precluded, a client cannot relitigate whether the attorney's withdrawal was proper. “If we are to have rules permitting attorney withdrawal, we must allow attorneys to have confidence in those rules.” View "Schibel v. Eymann" on Justia Law