Division II: State appeals defendant’s plea agreement with special deputy prosecutor
Tracer caused an auto accident. Tracer had a .13 blood alcohol level, however, argued that it was a meteor that caused the accident and not his blood alcohol level. Due to that, the special deputy prosecutor had agreed to amend the information and allow Tracer to plead guilty to a DUI instead of vehicular assault. The special deputy prosecutor didn’t show up for the hearing. The judge assigned a defense counsel in court representing another defendant as special deputy prosecutor who, in turn, amended the information and entered Tracer’s plea that same day at the court’s direction.
The state appealed the judgment and sentence entered. The issues facing the court were: 1) whether the State had a right to appeal, 2) whether it was a violation of separation of powers for the superior court judge to appoint a defense counsel as special deputy prosecutor, and 3) whether due process and/or double jeopardy prohibited a remand.
The Court of Appeals held that the state had a right to appeal under the extraordinary circumstances element under RAP2.2(b)(1). The state demonstrated that the superior court deviated from its accepted and usual practice of judicial proceedings calling for availability of review.
The Court of Appeals held that the trial court lacked authority to amend the information and wrongly appointed a new special deputy prosecutor to do the same. Therefore, the court ruled that the amendment was invalid and Tracer’s charge of vehicular assault remains.
Finally, the Court of Appeals ruled that because the second special prosecutor was improperly appointed and his conduct was without lawful authority, a remand did not violate due process or double jeopardy.