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Washington v. Lee

filed: May 9, 1996.

STATE OF WASHINGTON, APPELLANT,
v.
EARL S. LEE, RESPONDENT.



Appeal from SUPERIOR COURT YAKIMA COUNTY. Superior Court No: 93-1-00511-9. Date filed in Superior Court: 10/27/93. Superior Court Judge signing: F. JAMES GAVIN.

Author: Ray E. Munson, Concurring: John A. Schultheis & Philip J. Thompson.

Author: Munson

MUNSON, J.--In this case the court is asked to decide a question of law: Whether the joinder rule, CrR 4.3,

requires the State to file charges against a defendant as to all related offenses of which it has knowledge prior to trial of any of the charges.

In August 1992, James Micelli was charged with six counts of second degree theft. Each count alleged that during the month of June 1992, he had obtained money from a different victim as rent and deposits for housing which he could not in fact provide. The victims had responded to an advertisement which appeared in the Penny Press. In January 1993, Mr. Micelli pleaded guilty to an amended charge of one count of first degree theft involving a total of eight victims.

In August 1992, Earl Lee was charged with criminal trespass and second degree theft based on allegations he obtained money from Lucila Dominguez or the American Red Cross as a deposit and rent for a residence at 710 North 7th Street in Yakima. Mr. Lee did not own the residence on North 7th Street. He was tried and convicted on these charges in March 1993. After trial, the State offered to forego bringing additional charges if Mr. Lee refrained from appealing the convictions. Mr. Lee nevertheless chose to appeal and the original convictions were ultimately reversed. State v. Lee 128 Wash. 2d 151, 904 P.2d 1143 (1995).

In April 1993, the State then charged Mr. Lee with (1) first degree theft, RCW 9A.56.030, based on allegations he wrongfully obtained money in an amount exceeding $1,500 from eight victims between June 1 and July 15, 1992; and (2) second degree theft, RCW 9A.56.040, based on allegations he wrongfully obtained more than $250 from Maria Sanchez or the Yakima Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross on June 29, 1992. The eight victims of the first degree theft charge were the same individuals who were involved in the charge to which Mr. Micelli had already pleaded guilty. In each of those cases, Mr. Lee had obtained money from victims and then provided no housing whatsoever. The second count, involving Ms. Sanchez, was similar to the earlier charge involving Ms. Dominguez

in that the Red Cross had paid for the housing and Mr. Lee purported to rent the residence on North 7th Street to both victims.

Mr. Lee subsequently moved to dismiss the 1993 charges for failure to join them with the charges filed in 1992 and for violation of his right to a speedy trial. The trial court found the 1992 and 1993 charges were related offenses because they arose from a single criminal episode or were part of a common plan. The court concluded the present charges must be dismissed under former CrR 4.3(c).*fn1 The court also concluded the present charges must be dismissed because the speedy trial time for these charges began to run in 1992 when the previous charges were filed and the State was aware of the evidence to support them.

The State contends the court erred in construing the mandatory joinder rule, former CrR 4.3(c), to require joinder of offenses if they are part of a common scheme or plan. In interpreting rules relating to joinder, we look to the policies the rule is intended to further. These policies are well summarized in the commentary to 2 American Bar Ass'n (ABA), Standards for Criminal Justice (2d ed. Supp. 1982).

Generally, joinder of related offenses achieves a variety of economies in the use of judicial and prosecutorial resources, including avoidance of duplication of evidence and use of resources. ABA Std. 13-2.1, Commentary at 13.12. Joinder may also benefit a defendant by eliminating "the harassment, trauma, expense, and prolonged publicity of multiple trials" and by providing advantages at ...


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