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ISSAQUAH LAW GROUP   PERSONAL INJURY LITIGATION LAWYERS

Issaquah Law Group - Injury Litigation Attorneys

TRUST: Personal injuries are personal. Which is why the attorneys at ILG treat every client and every case differently. Because they are different, and extremely personal. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built on trust. Trust that you will be heard. Trust that you will be protected. Trust that every effort will be made to see justice done in your case. The singular goal of every ILG attorney is to earn and preserve that trust.

EXPERIENCE: ILG attorneys have a broad base of litigation experience to draw on in all Federal and State courts from on-the-ground investigations to Supreme Court appeals and we bring this experience to bear on behalf of our clients in personal injury and wrongful death claims arising out of motor vehicle accidents, bus versus pedestrian accidents, defective and dangerous products, medical malpractice, slip/trip and fall accidents, and catastrophic losses due to fire.

LOCATION: We are located on the Eastside in Issaquah, convenient to Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Renton, Sammamish and North Bend. However, we provide legal services in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County and throughout the entire state of Washington.

In addition, through The Amateur Law Professor Blog and LinkedIn postings, we share pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as the pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Courts of Appeal so that our clients can be as update to date on cutting legal issues as we are.

WA Supreme Court: Minor Plea can be Withdrawn

State v. A.N.J.

ANJ (12 years old) pleaded guilty to child molestation. Almost immediately, and after learning the consequences of a guilty plea in this situation, he tried to withdraw his plea. This case, essentially, involves an admonishment of the Public Defender system.

ANJ was accused of molesting a 5-year-old. The trial court appointed a public defender. Under the contract, the defender was paid a flat rate of $162, but expert fees had to be paid for by the defender. I don't know how often you hire experts, but it is not uncommon for the retainer to be $4,000. Given the number of cases a public defender can handle, you can see the issue here. In fact, "Under recent revisions of the rules governing attorneys' professional conduct, it is now unethical for an attorney to sign a public defender contract to deliver public defense if the contract requires the attorney to pay for conflict counsel, expert witness, or investigative costs out of a lump fee.  RPC 1.8(m)."

In a case of such import, the overloaded PD didn't do an investigation, met with the client only briefly, and never contacted the witnesses (only trying once). There were no requests for discovery and no motions filed.

When the state offered a reduced charge under SSODA, the PD only briefly explained the implications of the plea, saying he would have to register and couldn't own a firearm. He told the family that the charge could be removed at 18 or 21 (sex offenses don't roll like that, they stick):

[The Public Defender] also initially submitted a declaration in support of A.N.J.'s motion. He acknowledged he had done no investigation, that he had not read the plea agreement to A.N.J. or had him do so, and that he had told A.N.J.'s parents that he "believed" the convictions could be removed from A.N.J.'s record when he turned 18 or 21.

The court reversed on the misinformation to the client, which is ineffective assistance, as well as the failure to inform ANJ of the elements (specifically, sexual gratification, which, given the age of all involved, could very well be missing).

Finally, of particular note on the ineffective assistance:

However, we hold that if a public defender contract requires the defender to pay investigative, expert, and conflict counsel fees out of the defender's fee, the contract may be considered as evidence of ineffective assistance of counsel. We further hold that depending on the nature of the charge and the issues presented, effective assistance of counsel may require the assistance of expert witnesses to test and evaluate the evidence against a defendant.

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