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ISSAQUAH LAW GROUP

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.

BUSINESS LAW: Rarely is the path from point A to point B a straight line, so our role in a business law practice is to find alternatives, devise workable strategies, and keep your business ideas, goals and objectives moving toward realization. ILG’s business attorneys help clients achieve their goals with respect to business formation, intellectual property, labor and employment, CAN-SPAM, copyright and trademark

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.

Court of Appeals: Div. III – Fifth Amendment Violation Was Harmless Error in Conviction of Child Rape

State v. Epefanio

Mr. Epefanio was a teacher’s aide and basketball coach at Salk Middle School in Spokane, Washington. Apparently Mr. E had a thing for the young girls at the school. He asked Brianna Summers to help him with the basketball team and they started a sexual relationship when Brianna was 15 years old. Mr. E was 25!

Eventually Brianna got pregnant, moved in with Mr. E, and then the honeymoon was over. Brianna was now 18 years old (probably too old for Mr. E). After the couple separated, Brianna determined that what Mr. E did was wrong. She was older and wiser! She sued the school district and reported Mr. E to the police. Mr. E was charged with Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree and Rape of a Child in the Third Degree.

At the criminal trial, Brianna testified about her sexual history with Mr. E. A friend of Brianna’s testified that she hung out with the couple and witnessed them having sex. Brianna’s boyfriend Jared (she had a boyfriend through all of this?!) testified that he had found out about the relationship, told Brianna’s parents, and then confronted Mr. E in front of Brianna’s parents.

Mr. E moved to dismiss the case after the State rested. The court dismissed the misconduct charge, but not the rape charge. On defense, Mr. E took the stand in his own behalf and denied having sex with Brianna when she was 15. He would never do such a thing! He waited until she was 16 and then knocked her up. When the State attempted to cross-examine Mr. E about Jared’s confrontation, the defense objected as it was outside the scope of direct examination. The court agreed. However, the State called Mr. E as a rebuttal witness and examined him on the same subject (the confrontation) and the court allowed it.

The jury convicted Mr. E and returned a special verdict that the offense was "part of an ongoing pattern of sexual abuse of the same victim under the age of 16 years manifested by multiple incidents over a prolonged period of time." The stand range for this crime is 12 to 14 months, but with the special verdict, the court imposed an exceptional sentence of 20 months. Mr. E also moved for relief from judgment based on the argument that the State violated his Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination when he was called as a rebuttal witness. The court denied the motion. Mr. E appealed the conviction and the exceptional sentence.

The Court of Appeals held that there was sufficient and persuasive evidence to convict Mr. E. They also held that it was a violation of Mr. E’s Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination to call him as a rebuttal witness regarding testimony outside the scope of direct examination. HOWEVER, "If the untainted evidence is so overwhelming that it necessarily leads to a finding of the defendant's guilt, the error is harmless." State v. Koslowski. So even if you remove the tainted evidence (Mr. E’s testimony about his confrontation with Jared), there was still ample evidence to convict him. HARMLESS ERROR!! The Court of Appeals also confirmed the exceptional sentence.

I’m sure the prison population will help Mr. E straighten out his penchant for young girls.

Inmates

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