CJE Wire: Case Law Updates — 2018 August 10


 Washington State Courts

Division I Court of Appeals

Woodward v. State:  The Court held that Mr. Woodward’s sealed juvenile class A felony adjudication, like all sealed juvenile adjudications, was to be treated as though it had never happened, and therefore it did not bar him from restoring his firearm rights.  The Court reversed the superior court order denying restoration.  The Court found that simply because statutory revisions allowed access to sealed records by prosecutors and criminal justice agencies did not change the treatment of those adjudications.  The Court was likewise not persuaded by arguments that its ruling violated the general-specific rule of statutory construction or conflicts with legislative history. The Court also found that a conflicting attorney general opinion was not controlling.  http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/769324.PDF


Division II Court of Appeals

State v. Glover:  The Court found that the lower court’s inquiry into Ms. Glover’s ability to pay LFOs imposed after her second-degree burglary conviction was inadequate.  The trial court’s inquiry consisted solely of asking Ms. Glover if there was any reason she could not hold a job and inquiring as to her employment history.  The Court found that the trial court should have at a minimum inquired into Ms. Glover’s assets and debts and taken into account her lengthy criminal history in assessing her future employability.  http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/D2%2049944-4-II%20Published%20Opinion.pdf

State v. Wallmuller:  In this partially published opinion, the Court held that the community custody condition imposed on Frank Wallmuller on resentencing that prohibited him from frequenting “places where children congregate such as parks, video arcades, campgrounds, and shopping malls,” is unconstitutionally vague.  The Court observed that a community custody condition is unconstitutionally vague if either “(1) it does not sufficiently define the proscribed conduct, so an ordinary person can understand the prohibition or (2) it does not provide sufficiently ascertainable standards to protect against arbitrary enforcement.”  The Court in this case found that the definition of congregate was so open to interpretation as to fail to sufficiently define the proscribed conduct.  The Court found that the definition gave rise to several questions:

(1) Must the children join together in a formal group to “congregate,” or is it sufficient that children be at the same place even if they are unconnected?  (2) Similarly, must the children intend to join together with other children to “congregate,” or can they end up at the same place by happenstance?  (3) How many children are required to congregate to invoke the condition?  Is two enough, or is some unstated larger number required?  (4) How often must children congregate in a place to invoke the condition?  Is once enough, or is some unstated frequency required?  (5)  Assuming that children must have actually rather than potentially congregated at a place to invoke the condition, how recently must they have congregated there? Is one prior instance of children congregating in a place sufficient regardless of when it occurred? 

The Court found that the short list of specific locations, without the clause prohibiting Mr. Wallmuller’s presence in undefined areas where children are known to congregate did not cure the unacceptable vagueness of the remainder of the condition.  The case was remanded for yet another sentencing hearing.  http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/D2%2050250-0-II%20Published%20Opinion.pdf

In re Pers. Restraint of Troup:  Mr. Troup challenged the constitutionality of RCW 4.24.430, which directs the court to deny an inmate’s request to waive filing fees in any civil action or appeal against the State where the inmate has brought at least three prior actions that were dismissed because they were “frivolous or malicious” and where the action would not affect the duration of confinement.  The court found that, in context, the phrase, “frivolous or malicious” was not unconstitutionally vague, as the phrase was contained within a sentence that prohibited the court from waiving fees for an inmate that had had three previous actions dismissed on the grounds that they were frivolous or malicious.  The Court held that a person of average intelligence would be able to understand the reasons for prior dismissal.  The Court found that the statute met the enforcement requirement and the definiteness requirement.  However, the court found that procedural due process required identification of the prior actions relied upon when the clerk determined that the statute applied and remanded with instructions to the clerk to reissue his ruling and to specifically identify the strikes upon which he relies to require Mr. Troupe to pay a filing fee. http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/D2%2050657-2-II%20Published%20Opinion.pdf


 Federal Law

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

United States v. Nature:  The panel affirmed the defendant’s conviction for being dangerously under the influence of alcohol in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 34.5(b)(21) while he was in the El Portal Administrative Site, which is adjacent to Yosemite National Park.  The panel held that whether or not the Administrative Site is a “park area” within the meaning of the dangerous drinking-prohibition contained in 36 C.F.R. § 2.35, section 34.5 incorporates the dangerous-drinking-prohibition with the necessary changes to make the prohibition applicable to the Administrative Site.  http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2018/08/06/17-10161.pdf

United States v. Fomichev:  The panel vacated the district court’s order denying a defendant’s motion to suppress recordings of his conversations with his wife and his wife’s testimony describing those conversations, in a case in which the defendant was convicted of four counts of making false statements on immigration documents in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1546(a) and 1001.  The panel held that the district court erred by extending the sham marriage exception, which has been applied to the spousal testimonial privilege, to the marital communications privilege.  http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2018/08/08/16-50227.pdf