Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 95-8-02799-9. Date filed: 07/27/95. Judge signing: Hon. Marsha J. Pechman.
Authored by Mary K. Becker. Concurring: C. Kenneth Grosse, Faye C. Kennedy
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Becker
BECKER, J. -- A juvenile court dismissed second degree rape charges against Jared Marcum, finding that the police had unreasonably delayed in referring the case to the prosecutor. The record supports the trial court's Conclusion that the State's delay prejudiced Marcum's ability to defend against the charges. Accordingly, we affirm.
At the time of the events in question, Jared Marcum lived in a residential suburb of Issaquah. Among his neighborhood friends were two girls, L and J, age 14 and 15 respectively. On July 27, 1994, L reported that Marcum had come to her house during the night and that when she went out to the back yard to speak with him, he raped her.
The next day, J reported that she too had been a victim of a rape by Marcum. She said that she, Marcum, and L had gone for an evening walk in a wooded area several days earlier. While L was nearby picking flowers, Marcum allegedly forced J to the ground and raped her.
King County police detective Larry Gross, Jr. investigated both complaints. Gross completed his investigation in October. The file then languished on Gross' desk for nearly six months. Gross finally referred the case to the King County Prosecutor's Office the following April. An accompanying note explained, "Sorry for the delay in getting this. Thought I had sent it to you long ago. I don't know what happened!" On April 27, 1995, the State charged Marcum with two counts of Rape in the Second Degree.
Marcum filed a motion to dismiss under Local Juvenile Court Rule 7.14(b). The Rule provides:
The Court may dismiss an information if it is established that there has been an unreasonable delay in referral of the offense by the police to the prosecutor. For purposes of this rule, a delay of more than two weeks from the date of completion of the police investigation of the offense to the time of receipt of the referral by the prosecutor shall be deemed prima facie evidence of an unreasonable delay. Upon a prima facie showing of unreasonable delay the Court shall then determine whether or not dismissal or other appropriate sanction will be imposed. Among those factors otherwise considered the Court shall consider the following: (1) the length of the delay;
(2) the reason for the delay; (3) the impact of the delay on the ability to defend against the charge; and (4) the seriousness of the alleged offense. . . .
The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, and later denied the State's motion for reconsideration. The State appeals.
In State v. Chavez, *fn1 the Supreme Court sustained a separation of powers challenge to a local rule similar to King County's LJuCR 7.14(b). The Court recognized that authority to regulate preaccusatorial procedures under court rules cannot exceed the authority to enforce constitutional and statutory mandates. So long as the applicable statute of limitations and speedy trial rules are satisfied, authority to dismiss for prefiling delay can derive only from the due process clause. *fn2 Washington courts apply a three-step test for determining whether preaccusatorial delay violates due process:
(1) The defendant must show he was prejudiced by the delay; (2) the court must consider the reasons for the delay; and (3) if the State is able to justify the delay, the court must undertake a further balancing of the State's interest and the prejudice to the accused. *fn3
Rather than striking down the rule on the grounds that it exceeded local courts' rule-making authority, the Supreme Court simply read the rule as a restatement of the due process test:
The juvenile court rule here in question (LJuCR 7.14(b)) appears consistent with due process in that it requires the court to consider similar factors in determining whether to dismiss a case against a juvenile defendant because of prefiling delay. *fn4 The Court determined the requirement for a finding of ...