Saturday, November 22, 2008

The following cases of note were decided recently in Washington's high courts:

By: Dena Alo-Colbeck

Supreme Court:

State v. Warren: The Court held that comments by the prosecutor that suggested that the defendant did not enjoy the benefit of reasonable doubt constituted prosecutorial misconduct, in that the comments were improper and prejudicial to the defendant. The Court also found improper comments by the same prosecutor in a related trial with the same defendant that presumed facts not in evidence and commented on the role of defense counsel. However, the Court found that the curative instructions given by the trial court eliminated any prejudice that may otherwise have been caused by these comments. The Court further held that an order barring contact between the defendant and his wife for life was not an abuse of discretion despite the fact that the order was with a class of person different from the crime victim, because in this case the defendant has a history of domestic violence against his wife, and his wife's testimony in the trial had been instrumental in convicting the defendant, so that protecting the wife was in fact directly related to the crimes in this case. A copy of the decision may be viewed online at:

Division One Court of Appeals:

State v. Hall: The Court ruled that the defendant's double jeopardy protection was not violated when he was convicted of multiple courts of tampering with witnesses, as the unit of prosecution for the crime of witness tampering is "any one instance of attempting to induce a witness or a person to do any of the actions set forth in RCW 9A.72.120." A copy of the decision may be viewed online at:

State v. Chang: The Court held that a warrantless search of the defendant's car properly came under the protective search exception to the warrant requirement when officers had information that there was a gun in the defendant's car and the defendant was only a couple of strides from the vehicle when he was detained. The Court further held that there was sufficient evidence to support a conviction for possession of stolen property (access devices) based upon checks that were in the defendant's possession, despite the exception in the law for paper instruments, because the State charged the defendant with possession of stolen property based on the account numbers on the checks, which defendant had used to illegally obtain money from the victims' accounts. A copy of the decision may be viewed online at:

Division Two Court of Appeals:

Aberdeen v. Regan: The Court held that a revocation of probation based on a condition that the defendant have no criminal law violations does not require a finding of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, simply evidence "sufficient to reasonably satisfy the court that the defendant violated a condition of probation." A copy of the decision may be viewed online at:

Division Three Court of Appeals:

State v. Beito: The Court held that the defendant was seized when, as a passenger in a vehicle, the officer stood outside his door, blocking his exit, told him he was not free to leave, and continued to stand outside his door while conducting a warrant check over the radio. At the time, the Court found that the officers had no reasonable articulable suspicion that the defendant had committed or was about to commit a crime or that he was a threat to anyone's safety, the seizure was in violation of his right to privacy, and all evidence obtained as a result of the search, including evidence of warrants out for the defendant's arrest found during the warrant check conducted while the officer stood outside the defendant's door must be suppressed, and the case dismissed. A copy of the decision may be viewed online at:

State v. Grogan: The Court held properly admissible statements child hearsay statements, ruling that the trial court properly found the child competent, and the statements met both the statutory requirements and the Ryan reliability factors. The court further found that the defendant's statements to the police were admissible when the defendant had voluntarily surrendered himself for an interview and polygraph, was told he was free to leave at any time, and was allowed to leave when he first asked to do so. A copy of the decision may be viewed online at:

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