AV Preeminent 2018
Lead Counsel Rated
Justia Badge
AVVO Reviews
 AVVO Rating 10

The Washington Supreme Court has recently decided a case involving school discipline.  A Washington public school student filed suit after being suspended and not allowed to return to in-person school after the suspension was over.

The Court noted that students facing suspension are entitled to due process because they have a property interest in their educational benefits.  Students also have statutory protections in Washington.

RCW 28A.600.015 requires the superintendent of public instruction to adopt rules regarding the substantive and procedural due process rights of students.  The rules may allow a district to use informal due process procedures for short-term suspensions, if the superintendent determines that the students’ interests are adequately protected.  The law prohibits a suspension or expulsion from being indefinite.  Short-term suspension procedures apply for suspensions up to 10 consecutive school days.  Emergency removal must be converted to another form of corrective action within 10 school days if they do not end within that timeframe.  The law also prohibits schools from using long-term suspension or expulsion as discretionary discipline.

Continue reading

Washington felony violation of a court order occurs when a person, who has at least two previous convictions for violating a court order, knows a no-contact order exists and knowing violates a provision of it.  Willful violation of a court order occurs when a person has willful contact with another that is prohibited by a valid court order and the person has knowledge of the order.  Accidental contact is not willful.  A person must both know of the no-contact order and intend the contact. Washington case law has held that proof that the defendant acted knowingly constitutes proof they acted willfully. Previous Washington cases have held that the defendant does not have to have specific knowledge of the terms of a no-contact order, but instead must have knowledge of the no-contact order and know that the willful contact violated it.

A defendant recently appealed his conviction, arguing the prosecution had misstated the law regarding the meaning of “knowingly.”  He was charged with two counts of violation of a court order – domestic violence.  According to the appeals court’s published opinion, the protected party under the no-contact order testified that she heard knocking on her bedroom window and saw the defendant outside. She called the police.  She also testified that she received two text messages that she translated and summarized as saying “he hates me for everything I’ve done to him, for not letting him see the kids.” She further stated that he hoped the kids started hating her for not letting them see their father.

The state’s closing arguments included multiple statements about the knowledge requirement of violation of a no-contact order. The state stated “This element does not say [the defendant] knew of the provisions of this order and knowingly violated this order. The knowing part refers solely to the violation.” The state further stated, “What I have to prove to you is that [the defendant] knowingly violated a provision of this order.”

Continue reading

In a recent Washington custody case, a mother challenged a parenting plan that required her to undergo a particular form of therapy to receive equal residential time with the child.  An appeals court reviews the provisions of a parenting plan under a manifest abuse of discretion standard, meaning the trial’s decision is manifestly unreasonable or based on untenable grounds or reasons.

The parents were in a committed intimate relationship from the middle of 2015 to late 2018.  They had a child in September 2017.  Each party had alleged intimate partner violence against the other.  The mother was arrested for domestic violence in September 2018, but the father’s petition for a protection order was dismissed for lack of evidence.

The mother petitioned for a parenting plan, among other things.  The court entered a temporary parenting plan that gave the parties equal residential time and joint education and healthcare decision-making.  The court appointed a parenting coordinator who conducted a parenting evaluation.

Continue reading

Under Washington criminal law, a defendant commits residential burglary if they enter or unlawfully remain in a dwelling, other than a vehicle, with the intent to commit a crime against a person or property inside.  RCW 9A.52.025.  To convict a defendant of residential burglary, the state must prove that the defendant entered a dwelling, while other forms of burglary only require the state to prove the defendant entered a building.  A defendant recently challenged his conviction of residential burglary, arguing a fenced back yard was not a dwelling.

According to the opinion of the appeals court, which considered the facts in a light most favorable to the prosecution, a homeowner saw the defendant attempting to enter the home’s back door.  The homeowner testified the defendant had a hammer and a crowbar and was striking the deadbolt.  The defendant saw the homeowner and stopped and ran.  The homeowner tripped him in the front yard and he dropped his bag and the crowbar.  The homeowner testified the defendant tried to hit him with the crowbar and bite him.  The homeowner held his arm around the defendant’s neck until the police got there.

The defendant was ultimately charged with residential burglary, possession of burglary tools, third degree assault, and two counts of bail jumping.

Continue reading

The Department of Education submitted the “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance” final rule to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (“OIRA”) for review on February 2, 2024, according to a government website.

The final rule is expected to undo many of the changes made in the 2020 final rule.  The new final rule has been delayed multiple times since the publication of the draft rule in July 2022.  The final rule was originally expected to be published in May 2023, but the Department of Education pushed that date back to October 2023 after receiving an exceptionally large number of comments during the public comment period.  It was subsequently delayed again, with a new anticipated publication date of March 2024.

Although the final rule has been submitted to OIRA, it still may not meet the expected March 2024 publication date.  According to Executive Order 12866, OIRA has 90 days to complete its review, but that timeframe may be extended.  Interested parties can request to meet with OIRA during its review.  Given the high number of public comments received during the comment period for the draft rule, there may also be significant interest in meeting with OIRA regarding the final rule.  It is therefore likely that the OIRA will not complete its review in time for the final rule to be published by March 2024.

Continue reading

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires criminal defendants to have “a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense.” The prosecution generally has a duty to preserve evidence, but it is not absolute. State v. Wittenbarger.   The state’s failure to preserve “material exculpatory evidence” generally requires dismissal, but a failure to preserve “potentially useful evidence only requires dismissal if the state acted in bad faith.  Potentially useful evidence is evidence that could have been subjected to tests which might have exonerated the defendant.  State v. Groth.

A Washington criminal defendant recently appealed his drug and gun-related convictions after the police department allowed the vehicle in which he was found to be towed from its lot.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the defendant was arrested on a warrant after a police officer found him sleeping in a vehicle.  The officer testified that he found significant amounts of cash and drugs in the defendant’s pocket in a search incident to arrest.  The drugs subsequently tested positive for methamphetamine and fentanyl. The officer found paraphernalia, including a box of baking soda, in the car and a revolver in a bag in front of the driver’s seat.

Continue reading

During the COVID-19 pandemic, courts adopted a number of policies and procedures to prevent infection.  A defendant recently appealed his convictions for violation of a no contact order, challenging whether the state proved he had knowledge of the order when he had not signed it during COVID-19 protocols.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, a 2020 domestic violence no-contact order prohibited the defendant from contacting the ex-girlfriend until 2025. In October 2021, the two got into an argument.  The ex-girlfriend called 911 and reported that the defendant had strangled her.

The responding officer observed that the ex-girlfriend was “very nervous” and appeared fearful and like she had been crying.  He testified she told him the defendant strangled her. He did not see any injuries.

Continue reading

Washington family law recognizes Committed Intimate Relationships (“CIRs”), which are stable relationships, similar to a marriage, in which the parties live together knowing that they are not lawfully married.  CIRs have also been referred to as “meretricious relationships.” Washington courts consider five factors to determine if a CIR exists: whether the parties have continuously cohabitated, the length of the relation, the relationship’s purpose, whether the parties pooled their resources and services, and the parties’ intent.  If the court determines there is a CIR, it then must determine the parties’ interest in the property acquired during the CIR and distribute the property in a just and equitable manner.  Connell v. Francisco.

A man recently challenged a court’s finding of a CIR and division of property. The parties were in a romantic relationship from 2008 to September 2020, according to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion.  They purchased a home and lived together from December 2012 until they broke up.  The female partner made the down payment on the home, but they otherwise paid bills equally.  They had two children.

The female partner alleged the male partner committed domestic violence.  She petitioned for division of the property of a CIR.  She separately petitioned to establish parentage of the children and sought a parenting plan and dissolution of the CIR.

Continue reading

A student pursuing a claim against their school based on disciplinary action arising from a Title IX complaint may also seek a temporary restraining order or injunction to stop a suspension or expulsion while their case is pending.  A student recently sought to enjoin a suspension.

The medical student filed suit against his private New York medical school after he was suspended for 20 months following a finding he was responsible for sexual misconduct.  He alleged that the school’s adjudication of the complaint violated Title IX and New York City Human Rights laws.  He also made a breach of contract claim.  He moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to enjoin the suspension and reinstate him.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff and the complainant, identified by the court as Jane Roe, were both students at the school.  After the graduation formal, several people went to the plaintiff’s apartment on campus.  Jane Roe asked to spend the night because she was intoxicated.  The plaintiff gave her a blanket and pillow and offered her the couch.

Continue reading

A trial court in a Washington divorce has broad discretion to make a just and equitable property division.  RCW 26.09.080 sets forth certain factors that the court must consider in making a just and equitable property distribution, but those factors are not exclusive.  The trial court must consider the nature and extent of both the community property and any separate property, the length of the marriage, and each spouse’s economic circumstances when the division takes effect.  The court must fairly consider the circumstances and future needs of both parties. An appeals court generally affirms a property distribution unless there was a manifest abuse of discretion.  A manifest abuse of discretion occurs if there is a patent disparity in the economic circumstances of the parties as a result of the decree.  A former husband recently challenged a property division in which his former wife was awarded a $12,000 judgment.

The parties got married in April 2018 and separated in October 2020.  According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, they did not have many assets or debts.  They bought a home during the marriage. The wife transferred her interest in the home to the husband in 2019 via a quitclaim deed, though her reasons for doing so were in dispute.

The husband asked that the court award each party the bank and retirement accounts in their own name and the vehicle and any personal property in their possession. He asked the court to award him the home. He agreed to assume the community debt if he did not have to pay spousal maintenance.

Continue reading

Contact Information