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The value of property can affect the degree and seriousness of a Washington theft crime.  In a recent unpublished case, a juvenile challenged his second degree theft conviction, arguing the trial court had used the wrong methodology for determining the value of the property.

A deputy testified he met with the juvenile and his mother after responding to a call reporting a possible theft.  The deputy testified the juvenile admitted he had taken a ring out of his mother’s jewelry box.

A jeweler testified that the replacement cost of the ring was $1,200, based on making a new ring.  The jeweler also testified that used jewelry did not get the same price as new and that the ring might be sold to a jeweler for $340.  A dealer might be able to sell it then for $600 or $700.

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When a Washington crime is designated a crime of domestic violence, the alleged victim is afforded certain additional protections.  Such cases get priority scheduling.  Courts may issue pre-trial no-contact orders and specialized no-contact orders at sentencing. A defendant recently challenged the domestic violence designation and aggravators applied to his animal cruelty conviction.

According to the Washington Supreme Court’s opinion, the defendant had been abusive to both his girlfriend and her dog.  After taking the dog for a walk over his girlfriend’s objection, he called her and told her the dog had escaped the harness. His girlfriend could hear the dog yelping and did not think she had escaped.

Two witnesses heard noises and saw the defendant beating the dog.  One witness called the police while the other yelled for the defendant to stop.  After exchanging some words with the witness, the defendant ultimately walked away.

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A parent may think there is nothing they can do if the parent who has the child most of the time wants to relocate.  Washington family law, however, has a process for a parent to object to the relocation of a child in some circumstances.

In a recent unpublished opinion, a Washington appeals court considered whether the trial court had properly denied a mother’s request to relocate with her child.  The child, E.S., was born in August 2012.  The parents, who were not married, separated in 2015. They initially had an informal arrangement, under which E.S. primarily lived with his mother but was with his father two or three nights a week.

A parenting plan signed in 2018 established that the father would have E.S. Wednesday to Sunday every other week.  The plan could be modified by agreement of the parties and E.S. subsequently began staying with the father 5 nights of every 14.

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The First Amendment protects the right to free speech. A defendant recently challenged a felony stalking conviction, arguing it was based solely on protected speech.

The defendant was retried after his conviction was reversed on appeal.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, an employee of the county corrections center testified at the trial.  The witness testified she had known the defendant since high school.  She testified he had engaged in inappropriate behavior, including saying “raunchy” things to her.  She said he behaved inappropriately toward all women.  She testified he made crude comments to her on social media.  When she blocked him, he would contact her through a new profile.

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A plaintiff alleging a Title IX claim against a school must sufficiently state a claim to avoid the case being dismissed.  However, in the early stages of a lawsuit, a plaintiff alleging his school discriminated against him in its Title IX investigation and disciplinary proceedings may not be aware of many of the facts that could help him prove his case.  The Ninth Circuit has recently held that, to survive a motion to dismiss, such a plaintiff need only allege facts that would give rise to a plausible inference that the school discriminated against him based on sex.

Because the Ninth Circuit was reviewing a motion to dismiss, it took the well-pleaded facts as true and viewed them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.  According to the opinion, the plaintiff was  pursuing a doctorate.  In 2014, he began dating a student, referred to as “Jane Roe.”

In February 2017, the plaintiff ended the relationship after learning Roe had not been faithful. Although Roe was no longer a student, the two planned to meet on February 13 after the plaintiff’s class to return each other’s property.  Instead, she appeared at the plaintiff’s office before his class, pounding on the door.  The plaintiff did not let her in.  He told Roe he had to go, but she tried to block the door.  He ultimately got past her, but she followed and tried to keep him from going into the classroom.

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Some custody cases can become so acrimonious they result in Washington civil protection orders and even criminal court.  In a recent unpublished case, a mother challenged her convictions of felony harassment and felony violation of a protection order.

When the parents divorced, the mother was awarded sole custody of the children.  After the father obtained treatment for a brain injury he incurred in the military, he was given visitation. The mother would not comply with the visitation order and the father was given sole custody in September 2018.

According to the appeals court’s opinion, the father found the mother attempting to break in to his home the day he took custody. She physically attacked him and his father.

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Washington public policy favors a presumption that a marriage is valid.  Case law has held that a party seeking a Washington annulment must show the marriage is invalid by “clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence.” A marriage is invalid if one party was induced to enter into it by “fraud involving the essentials of marriage” and the parties have not voluntarily cohabitated after the fraud was discovered.  RCW 26.09.040.

A man recently challenged a denial of his petition to invalidate his marriage, alleging the wife had misrepresented her prior relationship with another man.  The parties’ mothers were long-time friends.  The husband went to Vietnam with his mother in 2015 and met the wife. He visited her again in 2016.  He asked her if she had ever had any prior relationships and she said she had not.  They started talking about marriage later that year.  The husband applied for a K-1 visa in 2017.

When the wife got to the U.S. in August 2017, she asked the husband to get a marriage license the next day.  The couple married as soon as the 3-day waiting period passed.  They slept in separate bedrooms that night. According to the appeals court’s opinion, the parties were only sexually intimate once, later that month.

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A Washington Title IX investigation can have lasting and serious effects on an accused student.  A Washington appeals court recently concluded that the names of students found responsible for a crime of violence or a nonforcible sexual offense in disciplinary proceedings at a public university are subject to disclosure under the Washington Public Records Act (“PRA”).

According to the appeals court’s opinion, journalists submitted a public records request to a university  seeking results of disciplinary proceedings with findings that “a student was responsible for a crime of violence or nonforcible sexual offense in the last five years.” The university provided tables of the offenses, each including the disciplinary action taken, but with the students’ names redacted.  The university also provided an exemption log which identified the student’s names as exempt from disclosure under RCW 42.56.230(1).

The journalists sued the university to get the students’ names.  The university subsequently concluded the names were not exempt and notified the involved students it intended to disclose their names.  Seven students sought injunctive relief.  The trial court denied the injunctions, finding the students failed to show their names were exempt.

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Washington criminal defendants are guaranteed a trial by an impartial jury under both the state and federal constitutions. The trial court should excuse a potential juror if the performance of their duties as a juror would be prevented or substantially impaired by their views.  Actual bias is a basis of a for-cause challenge by either party. Actual bias occurs when the prospective juror’s state of mind that would prevent them from trying the issue impartially without prejudice to the challenging party. RCW 4.44.170.  If a juror with actual bias is seated, the error is not harmless and requires a new trial.  A defendant recently appealed his murder convictions, arguing the court erred in seating a juror with actual bias.

A young Canadian couple was killed while traveling to Seattle in 1987.  Their bodies were discovered in different counties.  A DNA profile was developed from DNA retrieved from the woman’s body and clothing.  The male victim was excluded as the source of that DNA. According to the appeals court’s opinion, the defendant was identified as a potential source of the DNA profile in 2018 through genealogy matching. The defendant’s DNA was matched to the profile from the female victim’s pants and body after undercover officers collected a coffee cup he discarded.

The state charged the defendant with two counts of first degree aggravated murder. In an individualized inquiry, a potential jury expressed uncertainty she could be fair. She thought the topics and evidence may be difficult for her because of her own traumatic experiences in the past.  The defendant moved to dismiss the juror for cause, but the trial court denied the motion.  That potential juror was seated on the jury.

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In State v. Blake in 2021, the Washington Supreme Court determined that Washington’s strict liability drug statute violated due process because it “criminalize[d] innocent and passive possession.” This case has had a tremendous impact on Washington drug possession cases.  A Washington criminal conviction that is based on an unconstitutional statute is required to be vacated.  A number of cases under the previous version of R.C.W. 69.50.4013(1) have been overturned as a result of the Blake decision.  Recently, a juvenile appealed his drug possession adjudication under a different statute, arguing it should also be vacated due to the court’s holding in Blake.

The juvenile was found guilty of violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act under former R.C.W. 69.50.4014. He appealed, arguing the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Blake required his adjudication to be vacated.  He argued the applicable version of R.C.W. 69.50.4014 was unconstitutional and void based on the reasoning in Blake.

The state argued that Blake did not void the applicable version of R.C.W. 69.50.4014 because that charge carried a lesser punishment than the statute Blake found was unconstitutional. The appeals court rejected the state’s argument, noting the Blake court did not base its decision on the severity of the punishment. The Blake decision was instead based on the statute’s lack of an intent element.

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