Tag: Washington State Constitution

WA Supreme Court Rules Superior Court Order For Defendant To Write Apology Letter To Victim Does Not Violate First Amendment

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Washington Chief Justice Barbara Madsen
Washington Chief Justice Barbara Madsen

We have seen many incidents of lower courts ordering those convicted of crimes to endure unusual punishments: some as novel as holding signs advertising that they are criminals; requiring the cutting hair of their children; or forced attendance in Church. While these are fundamentally unusual, a case before us here fortunately never rose to these levels of miscarried justice.

An appellant argued before the Washington Supreme Court that a letter compelled by a juvenile court,  mandating an apology to the victim of a sexual assault, violated his free speech rights by imposing a government mandated speech of which he objected.

Many might see the matter as a minor requirement to apologize to a victim and not “worth the trouble” on behalf of the defendant, or, perhaps representing a rather cold hearted approach by the defendant to contest such a matter out of spite. Yet, the Court likely granted review due to the compelled speech question not having been previously addressed in Washington.

Previous case law in the state tends to much favor free speech which is interpreted to be afforded greater protection within purview of the state constitution, and in most cases provides greater rights than the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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