WA Legal Roundup
Three opinions out of Washaho today (Div. III):
In a failed drug transaction, the city seized a Beemer and a large amount of cash. The family of the decedent sought the return of the money. The family prevailed in retrieving some of the cash and the Beemer, but failed in retrieving the larger amount of cash. The family sought Attorneys' Fees under RCW 69.50.505(6), the substantially prevailed prong of the forfeiture of property proceeding. The trial court ruled, "I'm looking at the totality of the circumstances, the overall picture, and saying that you haven't shown that he's substantially prevailed, whatever that means."
In affirming the trial court, the court of appeals rejected the family's contention that "substantially prevailed" meant "obtaining some relief", a proposition that has already been rejected in this state. The court instead interpreted "substantially prevails" as it had previously under RAP 14.2, and applied the rule that where both parties prevail "to some significant degree", then neither "substantially prevails".
Needless to say, as the city kept a good chunk of change, both parties prevailed to a significant degree and the family did not substantially prevail.
In a rather sickening flub, the state filed an information charging that the Defendant caused two minors to have sexual contact with a third. They decided to try, rather than what they charged in the information, the Defendant's molestation of the two victims. You can see where this is going.
Double jeopardy, plain and simply. Once the conviction for the crime not charged occurred, the Defendant was able to arrest the judgment because he had no notice of the crime of which he was convicted. The State was unable to amend the information because they already had charged it, and jeopardy terminated when it went to the jury.
I am a firm believer in double jeopardy. This means that prosecutors have to be vigilant that what they charge and what they try are one and the same.
A pro se defendant argued that his sentence had been incorrectly calculated under doubling provisions, that his offender score had been calculated incorrectly, and that he was vindictively prosecuted. You can guess how it went down (but, I'll let you read it anyway):
A judge is not required to impose a double sentence, but the option is available to him or her under RCW 69.50.408(1). "RCW 69.50.408 doubles the maximum penalty, not the standard range penalty." In re Pers. Restraint of Cruz, 157 Wn.2d 83, 90, 134 P.3d 1166 (2006). The maximum sentence available remained double the initial maximum sentence, whether the judge chose to impose it or not. Here, the maximum is 20 years as determined by the trial court before our commissioner remanded, directing amendment of the judgment and sentence.
On a snarky note, someone needs to get the Court of Appeals' clerk a Chicago Manual of Style.