Derek Chauvin trial with Judge Tollefson commenting on KING 5

The Derek Chauvin Trial: Early Insights from WSBA President-Elect’s Judicial Perspective

Very little about the trial against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is standard. The mere fact that there is a trial is somewhat unusual. Police-involved deaths rarely result in prosecutions, let alone convictions of the officers involved. (Despite about 1,000 police-involved deaths per year, since 2015 only 121 officers have been arrested on charges of murder or manslaughter resulting in 44 convictions, according to the New York Times.) Few police-involved deaths are as widely well-known as the summer day in 2020 and the now-infamous video showing Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, ending in Floyd’s death. And certainly, never before has such an intensely high-profile criminal case taken place amid the unprecedented courtroom restrictions to amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Law books and a phrenology head

Court of Appeals Issues Rare Decision on Revoking Consent to Conflict Waiver

Earlier this year, Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals issued a decision touching on an area of the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) that is rarely litigated: revoking consent to conflict waivers. The decision was “unpublished” under General Rule 14.1, but is instructive nonetheless—both for its illumination of this comparatively “unplumbed” area of conflicts law and as an illustration of the result.

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An empty courtroom

A View from the Respondents Regarding Subject Matter Jurisdiction

We were counsel for Olympic View Water and Sewer District in Ronald Wastewater District v. Olympic View Water & Sewer District. Benjamin Gould’s article in NWSidebar suggesting the Supreme Court’s reasoning in that case departed from past decisions of the court on subject-matter jurisdiction, fails to acknowledge supportive Supreme Court precedent.

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US Supreme Court building

8 Cases to Watch at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020-2021

The U.S. Supreme Court began its 2020-2021 term in October. There are a number of high-profile cases on the docket, including disputes over voting rights, LGBTQ rights, and the Affordable Care Act. The Court hears oral arguments from October through April. The justices continue to add new cases to the docket, so it’s highly probable more hot-topic cases will be granted as the term goes on. Opinions are usually handed down by the last day of the Court’s term. With the exception of this deadline, there are no rules concerning when decisions must be released. With all that in mind, here are eight cases to watch at the Supreme Court:

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Law books

Supreme Court Applies Corporate Attorney-Client Privilege to ‘Functional Employees’

The Washington Supreme Court recently applied the corporate attorney-client privilege to “functional employees” in Hermanson v. Multicare Health Systems, Inc. In the privilege context, “functional employees” are not directly employed by a corporation but are sufficiently integrated into a company’s operations that some federal courts—including the 9th Circuit and Washington’s federal district courts—had concluded that they fall within the corporation’s attorney-client privilege.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I Dissent: The Legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Perhaps the most impactful of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s famous dissents came in a case about gender pay inequity in the workplace: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007). Plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter began working as a supervisor at the Goodyear Tire plant in Gadsen, Alabama, in 1979. She worked there for 19 years and for most of that time was the only woman manager.

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Totem Pole

Delayed Justice: The Attorney Behind the Fight Against State v. Towessnute

The 1916 Washington Supreme Court decision in State v. Towessnute opens with the words, “The prior occupancy of American soil by the Indian tribes did not vest them with sovereignty or any title to the land that was ever recognized by the white race, the Indian being merely an occupant with possessory uses for subsistence, and a favored ward of the Federal government.”
Then it gets worse…

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law books

Fine Print: Federal District Court Distinguishes Disciplinary and Malpractice Defense in Coverage Decision

Professional liability policies for lawyers and law firms often distinguish between disciplinary and malpractice defense. Some don’t cover disciplinary defense or, if they do, include a much lower coverage limit. A recent decision from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington underscored the practical impact of the distinction between disciplinary and malpractice coverage.

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