Washington State Courts: Time For Trial Task Force
Time-for-Trial Final Report
STATISTICS AS TO THE FREQUENCY OF
One of the first items that the task force undertook was to attempt to determine how often time-for-trial problems arise. During the legislative hearing on HB 2704 in 2002, questions were asked as to the extent of this problem. Witnesses testifying had different impressions as to the extent of this problem, but nobody cited any statistical support.
The task force conducted its own investigation into the availability of these statistics. Task force members and staff sent out inquiries across the state, including presiding trial court judges, court administrators, prosecuting attorney offices, and criminal defender offices. These inquiries yielded some anecdotal information, but no statistics. It does not appear that these statistics are kept anywhere in the State of Washington, neither by state offices nor by individual local offices.
Moreover, these statistics are difficult to track. "In order to fully capture the impact of the [time-for-trial] rule, you would have to consider other outcomes beyond just court-ordered dismissals (such as plea bargains and voluntary dismissals) and you would have to recognize that dismissals imposed when prosecution witnesses fail to show up for a trial date can involve [time-for-trial] issues." Task Force Minutes of April 26, 2002, at page 2.
When the absence of any existing statistics was noted, the Prosecuting Attorney's Office for Snohomish County undertook its own survey of recent cases. The results of that survey are enclosed on the following pages. To the best of our knowledge, this survey is the only statistical information currently in existence that sheds any light of the extent of time-for-trial problems in our state.
SURVEY OF SNOHOMISH COUNTY CASES
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
Submitted by Seth Fine
Snohomish County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Questions have been raised about how often prosecutions are barred by speedy trial problems. To shed some light on this, I have reviewed Snohomish County felony files that were closed in 2001. My review included cases where charges had been dismissed and those where charges had been reduced. (Under the case coding system that we use, some cases where charges were declined are listed as "dismissals.") I did not review all declines, some of which may have been on speedy trial grounds. I also did not review juvenile or district court cases.
I located 17 adult felony cases that had been reduced, dismissed, or declined on speedy trial grounds. A list is attached. Snohomish County has 10% of the state's population. Extrapolating on the basis of population, this would suggest a statewide total of around 170 cases. The actual total is probably higher: unlike some other counties, Snohomish County did not have any cases dismissed in 2001 due to court congestion. Also, this total does not include juvenile or district court cases, many of which involve serious crimes (for example, juvenile sex offenses and assaults, DV assaults, and DUIs).
The Snohomish County adult felony cases break down as follows:
Type of case:
- Violent: 1 (Robbery 1)
- Sex: 1 (Rape of a Child 3)
- Property: 7
- Drug: 5
- Other: 3 (Assault 3, Eluding, Failure to Register)
Reason for dismissal:
- Striker (failure to use due diligence in obtaining defendant's presence for arraignment): 13
- Fulps (failure to inform defendant of how bail can be exonerated when charges not filed): 1
- Huffmeyer (failure to obtain defendant's presence after conviction in other county but before sentencing): 1
- Other (failure to obtain formal continuance on record): 2
[NOTE: A summary of each individual case is included on the following pages.]
SPEEDY TRIAL DISMISSALS AND REDUCTIONS
IN SNOHOMISH COUNTY IN 2001
ANDERSON, KELLY A., no. 95-1-01164-5
A summons was sent to the defendant, but she did not appear. Subsequently, the defendant was a victim in an unrelated case. The prosecutor learned the defendant's whereabouts in connection with that case, but he did not take any further steps to have her arraigned. Because of Striker problems, the prosecutor ultimately dismissed the case.
BRAGG, GERALDINE E., no. 95-1-01404-1
Theft 2° (Welfare Fraud)
The defendant entered into a diversion contract with the prosecutor. A trial date was set, but with the understanding that no trial would occur so long as the defendant was complying with diversion requirements. On the scheduled trial date, the case was overlooked. Subsequently, the defendant violated diversion requirements. When the prosecutor sought to bring the case to trial, the court dismissed for violation of CrR 3.3.
BRAGG, WILLIAM G., no. 95-1-01398-2
Theft 1° (Welfare Fraud)
Co-defendant of Geraldine Bragg. Case dismissed for same reason.
COOK, DAVID M., no. 00-1-00086-8
The defendant crashed into a house while fleeing from police in a stolen car. After charges were filed, the prosecutor learned that the defendant was in prison. He delayed 5 months in getting the defendant transported for arraignment. Because of Striker problems, the prosecutor ultimately dismissed the case.
GOODWIN, STEPHEN A., no. 00-1-01481-8
At the time the charges were filed, the defendant was awaiting trial in King County. He was not transferred to Snohomish County until 9 months after he pled guilty. After the defense moved to dismiss under Striker, the prosecutor dismissed the case.
GRAHAM, SHERMAN, no. 99-1-01476-1
Delivery of controlled substance (heroin)
The prosecutor mailed a summons to wrong address. The defendant had moved from the address where he had resided at the time of the arrest. He claimed that his mail was being forwarded. Although the court considered the evidence on this point "scant," it was sufficient to prevent the State from "conclusively showing that notice would not have reached the Defendant." The court dismissed the case under Striker.
HABERMAN, LISA L., no. 99-1-02058-2
While investigating the crime, police questioned the defendant's father. According to police reports, he told them that he hadn't seen his daughter for two years. When charges were filed, an arrest warrant was issued instead of a summons. The defendant later claimed that she was residing with her father at the time. After the defense moved to dismiss under Striker, the prosecutor dismissed the case.
HOTCHKISS, JERAMY, no. 00-1-02070-2
Prior to being charged, the defendant wrote to the prosecutor stating that he was in the Thurston County Jail. When the charges were filed, the prosecutor sent a summons to the defendant at the address shown on the police report. When the summons was returned, the prosecutor obtained an address from DOL and sent an additional summons to that address. The prosecutor also checked with the Thurston County Jail and learned that the defendant had been released. The prosecutor did not, however, contact DOC, which was supervising the defendant and had a current address. The court dismissed the case under Striker.
KORF, THERESIA, no. 97-1-00314-2
Possession of Marijuana (over 40 grams)
The police reports gave an address for the defendant on SR 527. Included in the reports was a statement from the defendant, which gave the address as the same street number on 19th Avenue (which at that location is the same as SR 527). The summons was sent to the SR 527 address, but it was returned marked "no such number or street." Because of Striker problems, the prosecutor ultimately dismissed the case.
KRAVAGNA, MARIANNE H., no. 99-1-02093-1
Attempting to Obtain Controlled Substance by Fraud
A summons was sent to the defendant at an address she had provided. From checking the registration on the defendant's vehicle, the police had also obtained a post office box address, but no summons was sent there. The court ultimately dismissed the case, holding that this constituted a lack of due diligence under Striker.
McBRIDE, MICHAEL E., no. 00-1-00569-0
Possession of methamphetamine
A summons was sent to the defendant but returned unclaimed. The prosecutor subsequently learned that he had recently been released from the King County Jail. The prosecutor sent another summons to the same address, which was again returned. He later discovered that, prior to the issuance of the second summons, the defendant had sent a letter to the court (but not the prosecutor) giving a new address. Because of Striker problems, the prosecutor ultimately dismissed the case.
PAK, MI CHONG, no. 95-1-00779-6
Dismissed by prosecutor on Striker grounds. Reasons not apparent from file.
PERKINS, GARY L., PA # 0003255
Rape of a Child 3°
The suspect bailed out before any appearance in court. He was not informed of how to obtain exoneration of the bail. Because the case was subject to dismissal under Fulps, the prosecutor declined to file charges.
SIMONS, JOSEPH A., no. 01-1-00728-3
Robbery 1° (firearm), Assault 2° (firearm), Assault 2° (DW)
When original charges were filed, defendant was awaiting trial in King County. He was not transferred to Snohomish County until after sentencing there. Because of Huffmeyer problems, the defendant was allowed to plead guilty to Burglary 1° (with no enhancements). He was sentenced to 36 months, concurrent with the King County sentence. (The standard sentencing range on the original charges with 137-162 months).
SMITH, DARRELL, no. 99-1-02156-2
When charges were filed, a summons was sent to the defendant at the address shown on the police report. The prosecutor did not use a different address, which was shown on the PTS report. Although the defendant was a registered sex offender, the prosecutor did not check what address he was registered at. Because of Striker problems, the defendant was allowed to plead guilty to Criminal Trespass 2°.
WATKINS, KEITH T., no. 00-1-01931-3
Failure to Register as Sex Offender
At the time the information was filed, the defendant's whereabouts were unknown. An arrest warrant was issued. Subsequently, he was sentenced to prison in King County. DOC served the warrant on the defendant and notified the Snohomish County Sheriff, but not the Prosecutor. Because of Striker problems, the prosecutor ultimately dismissed the case.
WHITMARSH, SARAH R., no. 99-1-01066-8
Delivery of Marijuana
A summons was sent to the correct street address, but the city was given as Bothell instead of Lynnwood. A police officer tried to contact the defendant twice at her correct address, without success. Because of Striker problems, the prosecutor ultimately dismissed the case.