Said the judge to the lawyer: “Counsel, I’ve read your papers, but how does yesterday’s decision in _____________ affect your argument”? Said the lawyer to the judge: “Well, your Honor, I… uh… I’m not familiar with that case.”
Maybe you think this scenario isn’t a real problem. You tell yourself, “If it’s a significant case, I’ll know about it. And if I haven’t heard about it, why then, I’ll just tell the truth. The judge won’t fault me if the case is only a few days old.” But that, of course, depends on expectations, and expectations are changing. Read more
Man’s best friend has taken on an important role in today’s society, far surpassing what Lassie began. We’re familiar with dogs being used in certain capacities: seeing Eye dogs, drug sniff dogs, and even seizure dogs. Law school libraries have even kept dogs on hand during high stress study times to reduce student anxiety. In the past decade, dogs have also been used increasingly in court.
In State v. Dye, the Washington Supreme Court threw prosecutor’s a bone in ruling that use of a facility dog (assigned to the court house to provide comfort to witnesses) was not unduly prejudicial and did not violate the defendant’s right to a fair trial. Washington state has been at the forefront of using canines in court. King County started using them in 2004 and since then, “34 specially trained dogs are at work in 17 states… [and] Skagit, Snohomish, Kitsap, Pierce, and Clark counties.” See Seattle Times Sept. 22, 2012. In fact, the nonprofit organization Courthouse Dogs began right here. Read more
Defense attorneys have argued for years that a breath or blood test constitutes a search and that without a warrant, citizens should have the right to refuse the search without consequence. Washington courts have finally agreed with this argument, and the Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion on the issue in the case of State v. Gauthier.
The court held that a blood test should be considered a search and that, unless presented with a warrant, citizens have the right to refuse such a search. The court also held that the prosecution cannot use the right to refuse against a defendant at trial. The ruling changes the landscape of criminal litigation and not only protects defendants from unreasonable searches and seizures, but also from prejudicial evidence at trial. Read more
This post was originally published by Queen City Addendum on August 6, 2013. Reposted with permission.
The recent Washington Supreme Court case, State v. Vasquez, No. 87282-1, En Banc, focuses on possession of forged documents (such as Social Security cards). The Court concluded that mere possession of forged documents, without evidence of intent to injure or defraud, cannot sustain a forgery conviction.
A Safeway security guard detained the defendant, Vasquez, for shoplifting. During this detention, the guard searched Vasquez and found a social security card and a permanent resident card (both which turned out to be forged). Vasquez admitted to buying the cards from an out-of-state friend. After a series of questions, the guard couldn’t verify Vasquez’s identity, so he called the police. Vasquez was eventually charged and convicted of forgery. The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, reasoning that there was enough evidence to infer that Vasquez had “an intent to injure or defraud.” Read more
On June 24, 2013, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision changing the legal standard of proof for discrimination retaliation claims. In University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, 133 S.Ct. 2517 (2013), the majority decision concluded that Title VII retaliation claims must be proved according to traditional principles of but-for causation, not the lessened causation test for “motivating factor” set forth for status-based discrimination claims. The antiretaliation provision states, in relevant part:
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees… because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this subchapter, or because he has made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this subchapter. Read more