PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington State Supreme Court brings its Sept. 24 cases to the Washington State University Compton Union Building campus during a two-day visit to the Palouse. The court has made community visits throughout the state since 1985.
Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and Justices Charles W. Johnson, Barbara A. Madsen and Richard B. Sanders begin their community visit on Monday (Sept. 23) with a panel discussion, “Protecting Rights in the State of Washington: Developing an Independent State Constitutional Jurisprudence,” hosted by the WSU Foley Institute from 2-3:30 p.m. in the CUB Junior Ballroom. WSU political science professor Cornell Clayton will serve as moderator.
The other five Justices, Charles Z. Smith, Faith Ireland, Bobbe J. Bridge, Tom Chambers and Susan Owens, will address student groups and classes at WSU and the University of Idaho. The nine Justices will come together to hear three cases starting at 9 a.m., Sept. 24, in the CUB Ballroom.
Though cameras and video recorders are generally allowed, the court asks that no flash, other lights or noisy film advance mechanisms be used during the hearings.
The court will hear arguments on the following cases:
No. 71855-5, Hickle (respondent) v. Whitney Farms, Inc., (defendent) Seneca Foods Corp. (petitioner) Milne Fruit Prod. Inc. (respondent). The case involves 16-year-old Philip Hickle, who while quail hunting after school, fell into a concealed pit of burning waste. Hickle was able to pull himself out of the approximately 500 degree F pit and seek help. He was burned over 54 percent of his body and parts of both of his legs had to be amputated. Piles of wastes had been burning on the land for years. In response to complaints from neighbors and public health authorities, the property owner had covered the piles with soil. The court must decide whether the companies that hired the property owner to dispose of their wastes bear some of the responsibility for Hickle’s injuries.
About 10:30, the case, No. 71918-7, State (petitioner/cross-respondent) v. DeSantiago (respondent/cross-petitioner). Armando DeSantiago and four acquaintances were charged with first degree kidnapping. When they allegedly attempted to extort money from the victim’s family, the family went to the police. DeSantiago and his acquaintances were arrested and charged, but their first trial ended in a mistrial because the jury could not reach a verdict. The victim and his family members were not available to testify in the second trial. The court must decide whether to admit their testimony from the first trial into evidence and whether the trial court properly applied the deadly weapon sentencing enhancement.
Following the second case, the court will host a question and answer period with audience members. Following a lunch break, the court will resume at 1:30 p.m. with the following case:
No. 71984-5, State (respondent) v. Vasquez (petitioner). In this case, Scott Jones, a Quincy police officer, saw two cars making simultaneous u-turns. While this was legal, his curiosity was piqued, and he followed the cars down the road. One of the cars sped, and Jones pulled it over. Upon reading the car, Jones saw evidence the driver, Ramino Vasquez, was intoxicated: alcohol on his breath, glazed eyes and a partially drunk, six-pack of beer in the front of the car. Vasquez was arrested for driving under the influence. Jones conducted a search incident to arrest and found two dollar bills folded around cocaine, and he was charged with possession. However, before trial on that charge, the Department of Licensing brought an unsuccessful action to suspend Vasquez’s license. The issue before the court is whether the hearing examiner’s determination that there was no probably cause to stop Vasquez precludes the state from claiming in the criminal trial that there was probable cause to make the initial stop.
Following the final case (about 2:15 p.m.), the court justices will hold a second question and answer session.
Written opinions will be rendered three to sixth months after oral argument. For further information regarding the court, visit the Washington Courts’ Web site at www.courts.wa.gov.