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Issaquah Law Group: Experienced Counsel; Client Focus

PHILOSOPHY: Formed in 2014, Issaquah Law Group is a law firm with one focus: providing businesses and insurers with high quality legal representation with the responsiveness of a smaller firm. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built upon clear and consistent communication. 

LITIGATION: We work closely with our clients to fully and accurately understand their goals, work collaboratively to formulate specific legal strategies, and execute the agreed plan of action utilizing methods most likely to result in the efficient and effective resolution of the matter. 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 in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death, product liability, commercial general liability, labor & employment, construction litigation, and catastrophic losses due to fire and explosion.

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COMMUNITY: In addition, the Lawyers at Issaquah Law Group remain active in the legal and civic community. A core commitment of our Issaquah Attorneys is community service. Our attorneys' civic involvement includes the King County Civil Rights Commission; the City of Issaquah Planning Policy Commission; the Northwest Screenwriters Guild, service as a pro tem judge. We live and work in the Pacific Northwest, and we aim to make it a better place.

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: Stipulation to Element of a Crime Needs Consent of Defendant

State v. Humphries

Here’s the important bits. Humphries was going to trial on some sort of thing. His attorney didn’t want all the bad stuff about a prior conviction coming in, so they entered a stipulation to it. The only problem? Humphries didn’t want to stipulate to it. The stipulation, by the way, was conviction of a serious  offense and that Humphries had received notice he could not possess a firearm. 

So in this case, after the fact, Humphries did end up signing the stipulation. The effect? Well, it doesn’t amount to much, because the Court erroneously told him it didn’t matter whether or not he signed the thing. The supreme court thinks that it really matters:

Instead of examining the validity of the stipulation, the Court of Appeals held that Humphries's subsequent decision to sign the stipulation waived his objection or, alternatively, abandoned his challenge to the stipulation on appeal. The Court of Appeals' reasoning is not sustainable.

Waiver of a constitutional right must be knowing, voluntary, and intelligent. State v. Thomas, 128 Wn.2d 553, 558, 910 P.2d 475 (1996). Here, the trial court and counsel erroneously told Humphries that his consent to the stipulation was not required. The stipulation was then read to the jury as part of the State's case. It was not until the State rested and the defense had presented its case that Humphries signed the stipulation. At that point, the damage was done, and nothing suggests that Humphries's signature was anything other than forced acquiescence to what had already occurred. Without something in the record suggesting that he voluntarily changed his mind, the signature cannot be considered a knowing, 'intelligent, and voluntary waiver of his constitutional rights.

The error was not harmless. While the State says it could have put on a good case, this isn’t in the record, and they didn’t put on the case. 

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