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A trial court must grant an annulment to parties married outside Washington if the court finds the marriage was void or voidable pursuant to the laws where the marriage was contracted, unless it was subsequently validated. RCW 26.09.040(4)(c).  A wife recently appealed a court’s denial of her petition for a Washington annulment.

According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the parties had a ceremonial marriage in India in 2009 and subsequently moved to the U.S and lived together as spouses for several years. They had a child together in 2014.  The husband moved out in 2017 and the wife petitioned for legal separation.  She subsequently amended to petition for annulment.  She alleged the husband had fraudulently represented having registered their marriage in Indian, and that, because he had actually failed to register, the marriage was legally void.  The husband asked the court to dissolve the marriage instead.

The primary issue at trial was whether the marriage certificate was signed and registered pursuant to Indian law.  The wife offered evidence of irregularities in the certificate the husband used in his immigration.  She presented an authenticated document from India stating there was no record of the marriage.  The husband presented a partially-signed marriage certificate.  The wife argued it was probably forged.  The husband also submitted a fully-signed version of the marriage certificate with his supplemental briefing.  The trial court denied the wife’s motion to strike it.

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In December 2022, identical bills were introduced in the Senate, S. 5158, and House of Representatives, H.R. 9387, to amend Title IX.  The short title for the act is “Students’ Access to Freedom and Educational Rights Act of 2022,” also known as the SAFER Act.  In addition to amending Title IX, the SAFER Act would also amend other federal laws relating to discrimination.  This act would impose additional requirements on schools with regard to protecting individuals from discrimination and Title IX.

The SAFER Act would add a provision making schools liable for sex-based harassment committed by their agents, employees, or other authorized persons if the person’s authority enables or assists in the harassment or the school receives notice of the harassment.  Schools would also be liable for sex-based harassment against a person participating in or receiving benefit, service, or opportunity from a school program or activity or is trying to do so, when the schools have notice of the harassment. A school would not liable for damages if it can show it exercised reasonable care to prevent sex-based harassment and promptly remedy the effects, including through certain specified actions.

It includes definitions for “gender identity,” “on the basis of sex,” “recipient,” “sex-based harassment,” and “sexual orientation.” The definition of “on the basis of sex” includes orientation and gender identity.

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To convict a person of a Washington crime, the state must prove each element of that crime.  In a recent case, a defendant appealed a conviction for felony violation of a domestic violence no-contact order, arguing the state had not shown he had knowingly violated a no-contact order.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the defendant went to his grandmother’s home on September 24, 2020.  He asked to come in for a shower and some food.  The grandmother let him in, but told him she would call the sheriff because he was “not supposed to be [t]here.”  When officers arrived, they arrested the defendant.

A domestic violence no-contact order had been entered against him on June 14, 2019, prohibiting from contacting his grandmother or coming within 1,000 feet of her home.  The order was still in effect in September 2020. The defendant had been convicted of violating a court order two previous times, so he was charged with felony violation of the no-contact order.

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Necessity may be available as a defense in a Washington criminal case when “physical forces of nature or the pressure of circumstances” cause a defendant to do something illegal to avoid a harm that is greater than the harm resulting from the unlawful act.  A defendant recently challenged her conviction for residential burglary, arguing the jury had wrongly rejected her common law necessity defense.

According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the defendant ran out of gas in an unfamiliar area. She walked to a museum.  The defendant claimed she slipped in snow and injured her back.  She claimed she called out, but no one responded and the museum was closed for the winter. She did not have a phone with her.

Witnesses testified about the bad weather that night.  The defendant claimed it was “super windy” and “freezing.”  There was evidence of six to eight inches of snow on the museum property.  The defendant claimed she was lying in the snow for hours.  She ultimately went to the doublewide manufactured home where the museum caretaker lived.

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Parties to a Washington divorce may reach an agreement to resolve the issues in their case.  A CR 2A agreement, named after Washington Superior Court Civil Rule 2A, can resolve a number of issues, including property distribution and debt allocation.  CR 2A agreements may also include an alternative dispute resolution requirement.

A husband recently appealed an enforcement order, arguing the matter should have been resolved through the alternative dispute process set forth in the CR 2A agreement.  According to the appeals court’s opinion, the parties got married in 1991.  They separated in 2017 and the husband filed for divorce at the end of 2018.  The marital estate was worth about $194 million.  The parties entered into a CR 2A Agreement and Separation Contract that allocated some property and made financial management arrangements in August of 2019.

The agreement allocated a development project to the husband and allowed him to borrow up to $3 million from the wife with 6% interest.  She could choose to either invest the loan into the project or make the loan part of the equalizing payment.  If she chose not to invest in the project, the agreement required the husband to pay the equalizing payment with 7.5% interest from the date she notified him of that decision.  The payment would be due within 12 months of entry of the divorce decree.  If the payment was not paid timely, it would accrue 12% per annum interest.

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To obtain a temporary restraining order (“TRO”), a party must show likelihood of success on the merits, lack of adequate remedy at law, and irreparable harm if the restraining order is not granted.  Additionally, they must show that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage would occur before the opposing party can be heard.  If these requirements are met, the court must balance the potential harm to the parties and the public interest.  In a recent case, a university student sought a TRO to prohibit the school from removing him from student housing.

According to the district court’s memorandum opinion, a senior student, identified as “John Doe,” sued his university in a federal court in Illinois for Title IX, Fair Housing Act, and state law claims.  He moved for a temporary restraining order to prohibit the university from requiring him to move out of student housing and banning him from other residence and dining halls for the rest of the school year.

Likelihood of Success

In considering a temporary restraining order, the court must determine if, under the totality of the circumstances, the plaintiff has a likelihood of success on the merits for his Title IX claim. The court focused on the plaintiff’s Title IX claim.

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Washington second degree criminal trespass is a misdemeanor. To convict a person of second degree criminal trespass, the state must show that they knowingly entered or remained unlawfully on someone else’s property.  A juvenile recently challenged a guilty adjudication for second degree criminal trespass, arguing there was insufficient evidence that he had knowingly entered and unlawfully remained on Port property.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the police received a complaint from a Port employee that the thirteen-year-old juvenile was skateboarding on Port property.  The property was posted with several signs prohibiting skateboarding.  The employee stated Port employees has contacted the juvenile and asked him to stop, but he had responded with profanity.

The officer issued the juvenile a no trespassing notice and told him he was trespassed from Port property for life.  The juvenile, the officer, and the employee all signed the notice.

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When a court finds a parent has engaged in a history of acts of domestic violence, a permanent Washington parent plan may not require mutual decision-making or a dispute resolution process other than court action if the court finds a parent has a history of acts of domestic violence.  RCW 26.09.191. A mother recently challenged a parenting plan that required joint decision making for health care and the court’s failure to enter a restraining order after she presented substantial evidence of a history of domestic violence.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the parties got married in 2013 and had a child in 2014.  They divorced in August 2015.  The parenting plan acknowledged a “[h]istory of intimidation and verbal abuse. . . in the presence of [the] child,” but the trial court did not impose restrictions.

The father started a relationship with another woman in February 2015 and they had a child.

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A person posting a video of illegal activity on social media may find themselves facing Washington criminal charges.  In a recent case, a man challenged a firearm possession charge arising from a video he had posted on Snapchat.

According to the unpublished opinion by the appeals court, the defendant posted a 20-second video of himself on Snapchat.  The video, as described by the court, depicted the defendant smoking marijuana and listening to music.  At one point in the video, the defendant pointed a handgun at the camera and simulated firing it.

The defendant was in a relationship with a woman with two children.  The children’s father saw the video and called the police due to concerns for the safety of his children.

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When a student files suit against their school alleging a Title IX violation arising from a Title IX investigation and proceedings, the person who made the allegations is generally not a party to the lawsuit.  That person often has important information related to the allegations and the disciplinary process, however.  A Texas federal court recently ordered the person who made allegations of sexual assault to comply with a subpoena for a deposition in the accused student’s lawsuit against the university.

“John Doe” sued his university for breach of contract and violation of Title IX.  He alleged his ex-girlfriend falsely accused him of two separate incidents of sexual assault.  According to his complaint, the hearing panel suspended him and stated he would be eligible to reenroll in 2023. The hearing panel also directed him to go to therapy and counseling and complete online Title IX training before he reenrolled.  He would also remain on “conduct probation” while he was at the university.  He appealed the hearing panel’s decision, but it was upheld.

He filed suit against the university in April 2022.  As part of that case, he sought to depose “Jane Roe,” the woman who had made the sexual assault allegations against him.  She filed a motion to quash the subpoena.

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