WA Legal Roundup: Division II
Hager appeals the trial court’s denial of his Motion for a New Trial after a State’s witness violated a pre-trial order preventing him from testifying that Hager was evasive during police interrogation. Hager argued that the trial court violated his Constitutional right against self-incrimination when they refused him a new trial after the State’s witness violated the pre-trial order.
The State tries to distinguish this case from the Easter case, almost identical to the case at hand by arguing that the witness’s statement was isolated and merely a reference to the defendants silence and not a comment. The court disagrees with the State and rules that a comment is one where the State is using the defendants silence as evidence evidence of guilt, which is what the court found to be the case here.
The appeals court agreed with Hager and ruled that his right against self incrimination was violated when the trial court did not find a mistrial after the State’s witness testified regarding Hager’s evasiveness during police questioning. The court reversed, and remanded the case for a new trial.
Judge Hunt dissents.