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Washington v. Dorsey

filed: April 19, 1996.


Superior Court of Pierce County. Superior Court Docket No. 92-5-01894-9. Date Filed In Superior Court: April 29, 1993. Superior Court Judge Signing: H. Haarmann.

Written By: Houghton, A.c.j., Concurrd IN By: Morgan, J., Wiggins, P.t.j.

Author: Houghton

HOUGHTON, A.C.J. -- Argie Lee Dorsey appeals a superior court commissioner's order establishing parentage, which was entered while he was incarcerated, arguing that his right to due process was violated by his absence from the proceedings and that there was insufficient evidence to support the order of parentage and the calculation of costs and child support. Dorsey conceded paternity. The State conceded that the evidence was insufficient to determine the back child support. We affirm the finding of paternity. We reverse and remand for calculation of current and back child support, costs, and for determination of Dorsey's right to attend the proceedings.


On November 4, 1992, the State filed a petition pursuant to RCW 26.26, to establish parentage on behalf of Calvin Lee Taylor (Calvin), born February 23, 1983, against Argie Lee Dorsey, alleged father, and Leala Yvette Taylor (Taylor), natural mother. Dorsey was personally served on October 20, 1992, at the McNeil Island Correction Center.

On November 6, 1992, Dorsey filed an answer, claiming to have no knowledge of the basis for the State's petition and requesting: (1) that the court order blood tests; (2) that the court allow him to proceed in forma pauperis and appoint counsel; and (3) that the court protect his rights as the indigent alleged father.

Two motions accompanied Dorsey's answer. First, Dorsey filed a motion and affidavit for removal and transport, requesting that he be transported to the Pierce County holding facility, at some uncertain future date, to argue and defend this action because the "action involves complex matters and issues far beyond this respondent's abilities to comprehend and understand and argue

without counsel. . . . and is likely to fail unjustly unless he is able to be present to represent himself." Second, Dorsey filed a motion and declaration requesting his own blood test to determine paternity. The State admitted it received these documents.*fn1 The record contains no rulings on these motions.

On November 10, 1992, the State noted its own motion requesting blood tests for Dorsey, Taylor, and Calvin for hearing on December 10, 1992. On November 25, 1992, Dorsey filed a letter with the court clerk, enclosing his declaration in support of his motion for blood testing and a note for the December 10, 1992 motion docket. In this declaration, Dorsey claimed to have also filed a motion and affidavit to proceed at public expense. Again, these documents are not in the record.

Dorsey's declaration also mentioned his motion and affidavit for an order for temporary removal and transport. In this declaration, Dorsey renewed all of his prior motions and requested that they be set for hearing with the State's motion on December 10, 1992. Dorsey requested that the court issue orders: (1) permitting him to proceed at public expense and appointing counsel; (2) providing for his transport to all paternity hearings; and (3) requiring that the testing agencies provide proof of the chain of custody. The record contains no additional motions relating to these requests.

At the December 10, 1992 hearing, the court commissioner granted the State's motion for an order requiring blood tests. Only the State's attorney was present at the hearing. There is no indication in the record whether the commissioner considered any of Dorsey's motions.

On February 22, 1993, the State filed the affidavit of Dr. Jerome L. Gottschall of the Paternity Testing Laboratory of the Blood Center of Southeastern Wisconsin. The affidavit described the paternity blood tests run by the laboratory,

attaching the test reports and concluding that there was a 99.95 percent probability of Dorsey's paternity. After reviewing Gottschall's results, Dorsey filed a declaration of parentage admitting having sexual intercourse with Taylor during the relevant time period. At the end of his declaration, Dorsey again stated that he filed a financial statement with his motion to proceed in forma pauperis; neither of these documents is in the record.

On the same day, Dorsey filed a motion for summary judgment on parentage, based upon the test results and a series of related documents, including: (1) a note for hearing on March 19, 1993;*fn2 (2) a new answer; (3) the paternity lab results; and (4) Dorsey's parenting plan. The record does not indicate whether these documents were served on the State. However, the State asserts that it appeared on March 19, 1993, and that the court struck the motion because Dorsey had admitted paternity. The record contains no information on this hearing.

On March 19, 1993, the State filed a notice of hearing on April 20, 1993, to determine the following issues: (1) child support; (2) adoption of residential plan/guardian ad litem report; and (3) entry of judgment for accrued child support, birth related expenses, blood test ...

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