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State v. Edmondson

March 24, 1997


Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 95-1-06660-3. Date filed: 02/22/96. Judge signing: Hon. Donald Haley.

PER CURIAM. Curtis Edmondson appeals the judgment and sentence entered on his conviction for delivery of cocaine, alleging the trial court erred both in denying his motion for a mistrial and in ordering a particular condition of community placement. Despite a concession of error by the State, we conclude that the trial court did not exceed its statutory authority by imposing the challenged condition of community placement. Nor can we say that Edmondson was in such ill health at the time of trial that the court below abused its discretion in not declaring a mistrial.

Accordingly, we affirm.


On September 25, 1995, Edmondson was arrested after he allegedly assisted an undercover police officer complete a street-level drug transaction in Seattle. Edmondson was charged with one count of delivery of cocaine (count 1) and one count of possession of cocaine (count 2).

Early in the trial, defense counsel informed the court that Edmondson was suffering from a medical condition which caused his facial skin to wrinkle and peel. The court had Edmondson returned to jail so he could be examined by medical staff to determine whether or not the condition interfered with his ability to assist counsel. After the recess, Edmondson's trial counsel stated that Edmondson was extremely uncomfortable as a result of the skin condition and that he did not feel he could proceed with the trial. When Edmondson was asked by the trial court what his symptoms were, Edmondson replied:

Well, it's like, I don't know, I felt really peculiar like when I woke up in the morning, I look like a 100 years old until I put some kind of cream or something on, just like it's like a psychological thing messing with my mind, you know, it's just going to be extremely difficult for me to try to, you know, proceed with this there, you know, here and have these people to Judge me and stuff, and I was always -- appearance is a big factor in this case, you know, and I just can't handle it like this, sir.

Edmondson went on to further explain his health problem as follows:

I'm just trying to hold up this trial as far as my appearance. You know, it's messing with me psychologically, you know, it's just I never had anything like this happen to me.

It's just messing with me psychologically and it's, you know, some times I can't see because this dry skin thing just came over my eyes like I have to strain to open them.

Defense counsel then moved for a mistrial because Edmondson did not want to go forward with his face looking the way it did. The trial court expressed concern about whether Edmondson was either too ill to continue or merely suffering from a minor ailment and decided to wait an hour to see if his condition improved. When proceeding resumed, the court again addressed the problem of whether or not Edmondson was able to proceed. The court asked Edmondson if he was sleepy, to which he replied, "No, I am not sleepy. I am just depressed, if anything." Edmondson indicated that he did not feel very well and renewed his motion for a mistrial. The trial court once more asked for a medical report on Edmondson's condition and said, if he "is determined to be too ill to assist his lawyer I will declare a mistrial . . . ." The court then instructed the jury on Edmondson's skin problem:

Members of the jury, Mr. Edmondson has a skin problem, and if Mr. Edmondson holds his hands to his face that's because of his skin problem and not for lack of interest in the proceedings, so I thought I would let you know and I will have a doctor take a look at him and see what, if anything, can be done. So don't hold any mannerisms of his against him. He has got a skin, a medical problem.

From this point on, Edmondson never again complained in open court about his skin condition or any other health problem.

Seattle Police Officer Dosch testified that he was posing as a buyer in an undercover buy-bust operation in Seattle when he encountered Edmondson. The officer testified that Edmondson asked him what he was looking for and that he replied, "a rock." Officer Dosch stated that Edmondson agreed to get what the officer wanted and offered to take the officer to his buddy who had some cocaine. Officer Dosch testified that, although Edmondson originally wanted a piece of the rock for services rendered, they eventually agreed that the officer would simply pay him $5.

The officer stated that he followed Edmondson to a nearby boat dock where Edmondson met briefly with a third person. According to Officer Dosch, Edmondson and the third person came back to him and he then completed the drug transaction. The officer stated that he gave Edmondson the $5 they had agreed on earlier. ...

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