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City of Yakima v. Aubrey

February 27, 1997

CITY OF YAKIMA, RESPONDENT,
v.
WILLIAM H. AUBREY, PETITIONER.



Appeal from Superior Court of Yakima County. Docket No: 94-1-01571-6. Date filed: 03/14/95. Judge signing: Hon. Ted Kolbaba.

Petition for Review Denied July 8, 1997,

Authored by Dennis J. Sweeney. Concurring: John A. Schultheis, Frank L. Kurtz.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweeney

SWEENEY, C.J. The City of Yakima charged William H. Aubrey with driving while intoxicated in April 1989. The court ordered a deferred prosecution. After Mr. Aubrey failed to comply with the terms of the deferred prosecution program, the district court revoked the deferred prosecution in August 1992. It then convicted Mr. Aubrey of driving while intoxicated and sentenced him. He appealed. While his appeal was pending, Mr. Aubrey's sentence was stayed. He was released. He then moved to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Montana.

The Washington State Supreme Court denied review of Mr. Aubrey's conviction in July 1994. On September 2, 1994, the district court ordered him to appear on October 3 for sentencing. But on September 29, following Mr. Aubrey's ex parte petition to the Blackfeet Tribal Court, the tribal court ordered him not to leave the reservation. The tribal court supported subject matter jurisdiction with a Conclusion that "the issues raised by Petitioner in this case affect the political integrity, economic security, health and welfare of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe and its members . . . ."

Mr. Aubrey then asked the Yakima County District Court to continue his sentencing hearing. It refused, forfeited his bail, and issued an arrest warrant. Mr. Aubrey appealed to the Yakima County Superior Court. On February 22, 1995, the Yakima County Superior Court ruled that the issues presented by Mr. Aubrey were not final and therefore not appealable. It then threatened to dismiss Mr. Aubrey's appeal if he did not submit to the district court's jurisdiction within 30 days. Mr. Aubrey did not appear. The superior court dismissed his appeal. He then moved for discretionary review. We accepted review.

The question presented is whether the Yakima County District Court must extend full faith and credit to the Blackfeet Tribal Court's order. We conclude that the tribal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Mr. Aubrey's ex parte petition did not present a case in controversy. The district court therefore properly refused to extend full faith and credit to the tribal court's order. The decisions of the district court and the superior court are therefore affirmed.

Discussion

Appealable Final Decision. Preliminarily, we address Mr. Aubrey's assignment of error to the trial court's Conclusion that the decisions of the district court were not final and therefore not appealable. RALJ 2.2(a) allows a party to appeal from a "final decision" of a court of limited jurisdiction. Whether the district court's refusal to continue the hearing on the imposition of sentence, forfeiture of bail, and issuance of a warrant amounts to a "final decision" depends on whether it affects a "substantial right." See RAP 2.2(a)(13).

Here, the orders most certainly affect a substantial right. If the Yakima County District Court extends full faith and credit to the tribal court's order prohibiting Mr. Aubrey from leaving the reservation, he is not a fugitive and the denial of the continuance, forfeiture of bail, and issuance of an arrest warrant were erroneous. See State v. Heslin, 63 Wash. 2d 957, 960, 389 P.2d 892 (1964). If, on the other hand, the court is not required to extend full faith and credit to the tribal court order, Mr. Aubrey is a fugitive. See State v. Johnson, 105 Wash. 2d 92, 97-98, 711 P.2d 1017 (1986). The orders of the district court therefore are appealable.

Full Faith and Credit. "Tribal court decrees are entitled to full faith and credit to the same extent as decrees of sister states." In re Adoption of Buehl, 87 Wash. 2d 649, 663, 555 P.2d 1334 (1976).

The orders and judgments of a foreign court are entitled to the same recognition if:

(1) the foreign court actually had jurisdiction over both the subject matter and the parties; (2) the decree was not obtained fraudulently; (3) the decree was rendered under a system of law reasonably assuring the requisites of an impartial administration of Justice due notice and a hearing; and (4) the judgment did not contravene the public policy of the jurisdiction in which it is relied upon. In re Marriage of Red Fox, 23 Ore. App. 393, 542 P.2d 918, 921 (1975).

Full faith and credit need not be extended to a foreign judgment if the court lacked jurisdiction to hear a case in the first place. In re Estate of Stein, 78 Wash. App. 251, 261, 896 P.2d 740 (1995) ("a decree of a sister state may be subject to collateral attack for want of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action . . ." (emphasis added)), review denied, 128 Wash. 2d 1014, 911 P.2d 1343 (1996); State ex rel. Eaglin v. Vestal, 43 Wash. App. 663, 667, 719 P.2d 163 ("If the foreign court had jurisdiction of the parties and of the subject matter, and the foreign judgment is therefore valid where it was rendered, a court of this state must give full faith and credit to the foreign judgment . . . ." (emphasis added)), review denied, 106 Wash. 2d 1007 (1986); Buehl, 87 Wash. 2d at 663 (order entitled to full faith and credit because tribal ...


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