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City of Seattle v. Agrellas

filed: December 18, 1995.


Superior Court County: King. Superior Court Cause No: 93-2-01441-4. Date filed in Superior Court: Order issuing writ of certiorari, January 25, 1993. Order dissolving writ & lifting stay, April 6, 1993. Superior Court Judge Signing: Jo Anne Alumbaugh.

Agid, J., Ellington, J., Kennedy, A.c.j., concur

Author: Agid

AGID, J. -- Mike Agrellas, Robert Canamar, and Raul Miranda (the Appellants) appeal a superior court order granting a stay and issuing a writ of certiorari to review certain pretrial rulings made by the municipal court in proceedings against the Appellants and 10 others stemming from charges of obstructing a police officer and criminal trespass. The City cross-appeals the court's subsequent order dissolving the writ, lifting the stay, and ordering that any appeal of the pretrial rulings be reserved for the regular appeal process under the Rules for Appeal of Decisions of Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (RALJs). We conclude that the City's petition for the writ was untimely and that the superior court had no jurisdiction to issue the writ or stay speedy trial. Because it is clear from the record that the Appellants' speedy trial periods have run, we dismiss the cases.


The City of Seattle charged the Appellants, along with 10 others, in municipal court with criminal trespass and

obstructing a police officer. The charges stemmed from a demonstration at the Pacific Hotel designed to heighten public awareness of the plight of the homeless in Seattle. Twenty-six people were arrested; 13 of them set their cases for trial. Those cases were joined The Honorable Russ Aoki held a pretrial hearing on various motions filed by the Appellants. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Aoki entered written orders ruling that: (1) the defendants would be permitted to present a necessity defense at trial; (2) the jury would be instructed to determine, as to the obstructing charge, whether the officers were acting lawfully in a governmental capacity; and (3) "should the defense present some credible evidence of a good faith belief in abandonment, then the City shall have the burden of proving the lack of that good faith belief beyond a reasonable doubt."

Without notice to the Appellants, the City filed an application for writ of certiorari in superior court challenging the pretrial rulings and naming only Judge Russ Aoki as a defendant. The superior court issued an ex parte show cause order staying the Appellants' speedy trial periods and directing Judge Aoki to appear and show cause why the writ should not be issued. The superior court later modified the order to allow Judge Aoki to waive his appearance at the show cause hearing.

The Appellants did not receive notice of either the application for the writ or the date and time for the show cause hearing. None of them appeared at the hearing. The superior court issued the writ and ordered all proceedings stayed pending disposition of the matter. After the writ was issued, the City sent notice to the Appellants and the other defendants indicating that the writ had been issued and the proceedings had been stayed. According to the Appellants, this was the first written notice of the writ proceedings they received.

The Appellants then moved to intervene and dismiss the writ, arguing that the application for the writ was untimely and the City improperly failed to join the

Appellants in the writ proceeding.*fn1 The superior court granted the motion to intervene and reserved ruling on the motion to dismiss. After hearing argument on the merits of the writ, the court issued an order, dated April 6, 1993, dissolving the writ and declining to reach the merits. The order states in part:

The defendants have not all made an appearance in the case on review, defendants are cited with diverse charges, and defenses to those charges are in conflict with other defendants similarly charged. It further appears some issues are not ripe for review.

The difficulty this court had in scheduling a hearing on the merits on these eleven cases, providing notice, and then having only two defendants represented at that hearing leads this court to believe that the writ procedure does not lend itself to proper review of the pre-trial rulings.

This court has earlier ruled that a writ procedure is proper in a request for review of pre-trial rulings in lower court proceedings. The writ in ...

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