Superior Court of Kitsap County. Superior Court Docket No. 93-1-00991-5. Date Filed In Superior Court: March 15, 1994. Superior Court Judge Signing: Frederick Hayes.
Written By: Houghton, Acj, Concurred IN By: Bridgewater, J., Turner, J.
HOUGHTON, A.C.J. -- The State appeals a trial court's dismissal of residential burglary charges against Jason Frazier for preaccusatorial delay, arguing that only an intentional delay can justify dismissal. Because our Supreme Court has held that negligence by the State can justify dismissal, and because the record amply supports the trial court's determination that the State was negligent, and further, gave no credible justification for the delay, we affirm the dismissal. The State also appeals the trial court's denial of its motion for sanctions against defense counsel for refusing to agree to a continuance. Because we find no abuse of discretion, we also affirm the denial of sanctions.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Between April 20 and June 5, 1992, a series of at least seven burglaries, most residential, was committed in Kitsap County. Some of the stolen items were weapons. On June 7, 1992, a tip lead to the discovery of some stolen guns in the possession of Glen Chandler. In the next several days, various individuals were implicated and confessions were obtained from most of those individuals.
On June 10, 1992, Frazier confessed to Kitsap County Sheriff's Deputy Ronald Trogdon to being involved in three residential burglaries while he was 17 years old.*fn1 On November 19, 1993, 17 months later, Frazier was charged as an adult with one of those burglaries.*fn2 Frazier moved to dismiss the charges based upon unjustifiable preaccusatorial delay, which denied him juvenile court jurisdiction, because he turned 18 years old in the interim.*fn3
On March 10, 1994, the trial court rendered its oral ruling, finding that the State had failed to provide a credible explanation for either the eight-week delay between Deputy Trogdon's completion of the report and its receipt by the juvenile court, or the eight-week delay between the prosecutor's receipt of the report and Frazier's eighteenth birthday. The trial court concluded that the State's delay was negligent and unjustified. The trial court went on, however, to balance the State's interest in prosecuting Frazier against Frazier's (and society's) interest in ensuring due process to persons accused of crimes. The trial court concluded that the State had not met its responsibility to provide Frazier "the full protection of the law" and, therefore, dismissed the case against Frazier.
On March 15, 1994, the trial court entered the following findings of fact and conclusions of law, granting Frazier's motion to dismiss due to loss of juvenile court jurisdiction.
In June of 1992,  Deputy  Trogdon was the lead detective in reference to the investigation of a series of burglaries occurring between April and June of 1992.
These burglaries involved as many as ten (10) juvenile suspects.
On June 10, 1992, Deputy Trogdon interviewed [Frazier], who confessed to committing three burglaries on June 5, 1992.
On June 15, 1992, Deputy Trogdon completed his comprehensive report on the entire series of burglaries and submitted it to the proper people for handling.
Deputy Trogdon's report included individual incident reports on all related burglaries and was organized under one case file number, CF5-5922, pursuant to the Uniform Crime Code numbering system.
Deputy Trogdon's report was placed in a manilla envelope, which listed the individual incident report numbers . . . all [of] the juvenile suspects on the outside.
For reasons not explained by the State, the juvenile court did not receive this report, or any part of it, until August 18, 1992.
Pursuant to standard procedures, this report, or at least a part of it, was sent from juvenile court to the Victim[-]Witness Division of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office in Kitsap County on August 25, 1992, arriving there on September 1, 1992.
For reasons not explained by the State, it appears that no one in the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney's Office looked at this report until mid-November of 1992; after [Frazier] had already ...