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.
A sign of the current education situation in Washington State took a turn for the obvious when, showing a fundamental lack of knowledge of basic civics, a coalition of Washington State Senators declared an order of the State Supreme Court to be Unconstitutional. That’s right, the several senators seem to have missed a key portion of their junior-high education relating to which branch of government has the ultimate say in constitutional matters and perhaps the workings of our tripartite government.
The claim of unconstitutionality stems from an open letter penned by several state senators describing the “constitutional crisis” caused by a rogue state supreme court. Previously the court held the state in contempt for failing to provide for the constitutionally mandated primary duty of funding basic education. It ultimately prescribed a penalty of $100,000.00 for each day the legislature failed to furnish the court with a suitable plan to address shortcomings enumerated in McCleary v. State.
After what was declared to be prosecutorial misconduct, the Washington Supreme Court reversed a jury conviction of Odies Delandus Walker. The defendant was convicted as being an accomplice to first degree murder, first degree assault, first degree robbery, solicitation, and conspiracy after a robbery at a Lakewood Walmart.
In closing arguments during trial, the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office showed the jury a PowerPoint presentation having over one hundred of a total of approximately two hundred fifty slides having headings such as “DEFENDANT WALKER GUILTY OF PREMEDITATED MURDER,” including one slide having a booking photograph of Walker altered to have “GUILTY BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT” superimposed in boldfaced red letters over his photograph. Additional photographs presented included those of Walker and his family juxtaposed with those of the murder victim emblazoned with inflammatory captions.
Walker asked the court to address if such actions violated his right to a fair trial due to the prejudicial nature of the presentation.
In two precedent setting rulings, the Washington Supreme Court expanded the privacy expectation of text messages on both statutory and unlawful search and seizure grounds.
Washington’s Supreme Court Ruled on February 27th the people have a right to privacy in text messages even if the person cannot be certain someone is reading them the court held. In State v. Jonathan Nicholas Roden the defendant asked the court to decide whether Washington’s privacy act protects text messages intercepted by a detective who possessed the intended recipient’s cell phone after a warrantless seizure. In State v. Hinton the court held that a text message conversation was a “Private Affair” protected from warrantless searches as enacted in Article I Section 7 of the Washington Constitution. Continue reading “Washington Supreme Court Rules Citizens Have Right To Privacy In Text Messaging”→