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Washington v. Lee

filed: June 3, 1996.


Superior Court County: King. Superior Court Cause No: 94-8-00062-6.SEA & 94-1-01016-2.SEA. Date filed in Superior Court: July 20, 1994 & May 9, 1995. Superior Court Judge Signing: Judge Mary Brucker & Judge Patricia Aitken.

Written by: Judge Becker. Concurred by: Judge Coleman and Judge Grosse

Author: Becker

BECKER, J. -- Orson Lee and Brian Yates appeal convictions under the stalking statute, RCW 9A.46.110. Appellants contend the statute is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague, and that it violates equal protection and due process. Each appellant also argues there was insufficient evidence to convict. We affirm both convictions.


On October 29, 1993, Brian Yates was convicted of stalking in violation of the former RCW 9A.46.110, which provided:

(1) A person commits the crime of stalking if, without lawful

authority and under circumstances not amounting to a felony attempt of another crime:

(a) He or she intentionally and repeatedly follows another person to that person's home, school, place of employment, business, or any other location, or follows the person while the person is in transit between locations; and

(b) The person being followed is intimidated, harassed, or placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure the person or property of the person being followed or of another person. The feeling of fear, intimidation, or harassment must be one that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience under all the circumstances; and

(c) The stalker either:

(i) Intends to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person being followed; or

(ii) Knows or reasonably should know that the person being followed is afraid, intimidated, or harassed even if the stalker did not intend to place the person in fear or intimidate or harass the person.

(4) Attempts to contact or follow the person after being given actual notice that the person does not want to be contacted or followed constitutes prima facie evidence that the stalker intends to intimidate or harass the person.

On July 11, 1994, a juvenile division of King County Superior Court found Orson Lee guilty of stalking under the same statute. This court consolidated Lee's and Yates' appeals.


We first consider Brian Yates' challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence against him. Yates stipulated to a trial based on police reports detailing complaints by his former girlfriend, B. Egan. Yates and Egan separated in September 1992. Egan said she left Yates after he became physically abusive.

On January 5, 1993, Yates went to Egan's apartment to take back a VCR he had given her for Christmas. When Egan asked Yates to leave, he pushed her to the floor and took the VCR. This incident led to the filing of burglary and assault charges against Yates.

On January 6, Egan saw Yates near her apartment and again near her son's daycare. When Yates called her that afternoon, Egan asked him not to contact her. In a series of reports to police over the next several months, Egan complained that Yates was following her. On January 13, Egan reported that Yates followed her in his car as she traveled to various locations. On January 16, she reported Yates had followed her home from work. A report dated March 17 states that he followed her to the store and back to her apartment, and then to her lawyer's office. On March 23, Egan drove onto the freeway in an attempt to evade Yates, and eventually called police from a pay phone. On April 2, Yates followed Egan from her home to her son's daycare. Yates did not stop following Egan until she pulled into the parking lot of a police station. On April 11, police found Yates wandering near Egan's apartment. While staying with a friend on April 19, Egan saw Yates driving back and forth in front of the house.

Yates contends there was insufficient evidence to show he followed Egan "without lawful authority". In State v. Smith,*fn1 the Washington Supreme Court interpreted this phrase to mean authority found in "readily ascertainable sources" of statutory or common law.

In support of his contention that he had lawful authority to follow Egan, Yates mainly relies on cases concerning tort actions for invasion of privacy.*fn2 In Mark v. Seattle Times, the plaintiff alleged that news reporters tortiously intruded into his private affairs when they filmed him through the window at his place of business.

The Court recognized that the tort of "intrusion" generally does not lie against one who simply follows or views another in a public place;

On the public street, or in any other public place, the plaintiff has no legal right to be alone; and it is no invasion of his privacy to do no more than follow him about and watch him there.*fn3

The Court affirmed an order of summary judgment in favor of the television station on the grounds that "the place from which the film was shot was open to the public and thus any passerby could ...

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