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State v. William K.

May 5, 1997

STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
WILLIAM K., B.D. 2/21/81 APPELLANT.



Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 96-8-04390-9. Date filed: 11/13/96. Judge signing: Hon. Anthony P. Wartnik.

Per Curiam. William K. has moved for accelerated review of the manifest inJustice Disposition imposed after he pleaded guilty to a charge of taking a motor vehicle without permission. Because the record supports the juvenile court's findings that William poses a high risk to reoffend and needs treatment in a secure and structured facility and because the 68-week sentence was not clearly excessive, we affirm the Disposition.

The undisputed facts underlying the offense are contained in the probation counselor's Disposition report. During the early morning hours of June 16, 1996, William and his friend, co-respondent Jeremy C., entered the Foremost semi-truck parking lot in Seattle. Jeremy was able to get one of the trucks started and drove it in circles around the parking lot.

William and Jeremy then walked to the nearby parking lot of Cochran Electric Company and climbed over a fence. After the boys "messed" with the ignition switches of several trucks, Jeremy removed the steering housing on a 1996 Dodge pickup and William used a screwdriver to break the ignition lock. The two boys then took turns driving the truck around Seattle for a number of hours. William told the police that he had driven fast enough to scare Jeremy into "almost peeing in his pants." Later, William lost control of the truck while driving 50 m.p.h. in circles on a baseball field in Hamlin Park. William also drove the truck through the locked gate at Kellogg Middle School. Jeremy drove the truck at 40 m.p.h. over a curb and rammed garbage cans in someone's yard. The two also drove the truck into a parked vehicle at Northgate.

At some point, the boys stole 2 fire extinguishers from an apartment building. When they later abandoned the pickup, Jeremy discharged an extinguisher inside, at William's suggestion, to cover up fingerprints. On July 3, 1996, William pleaded guilty to a charge of taking a motor vehicle without permission.

At the Disposition hearing on November 13, 1996, defense counsel moved for a two-week continuance in order to obtain the results of a fetal alcohol evaluation that William had undergone on the previous Friday. Counsel stated that she was also attempting to determine, through DSHS, whether there was a suitable group home or other facility that might more appropriately address William's acknowledged long-term treatment needs. The juvenile court denied the motion and proceeded to Disposition.

The prosecutor recommended a standard-range Disposition of 13 to 16 weeks. The probation counselor recommended a manifest inJustice Disposition of 68 weeks, based primarily on William's need for treatment and his high risk to reoffend. The juvenile court also considered the results of psychological evaluations.

Dr. Robin LaDue, a clinical psychologist, noted that William had "apparent frontal lobe damage," possibly due to prenatal alcohol exposure, that affected his understanding of abstract concepts and his ability to follow abstract rules and guidelines. William also had the physical attributes and dropping IQ scores characteristic of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She stated that William's organic and psychiatric disabilities might constitute appropriate mitigating factors, but that he was currently competent to stand trial. Dr. LaDue concluded that William's condition made him a high risk to reoffend and that he needed to be placed "in a secure, stable and supervised residential facility," but that it was also likely he would need "life-long structure and support."

Dr. Christopher Varley, a psychiatrist, also noted that William was possibly suffering from the effects of prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol. He concluded that without placement in "a highly structured, supervised" situation, William posed a high risk to reoffend and to have drug abuse problems because of his long-standing history of learning problems, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, impulsive behavior, intolerance of authority, academic failure, and inadequate supervision. Dr. Varley found that such placement could be accomplished "in structural group care or in an institutional placement through J.R.A."

The juvenile court imposed a manifest inJustice Disposition of 68 weeks of commitment. The court's ruling was based primarily on the need to protect the community because of William's high risk to reoffend, but the court also identified numerous other aggravating circumstances, including William's need for treatment in a structured setting, the attempt to inflict serious bodily injury, recent criminal history, non-amenability to community supervision, and the particularly egregious facts of the offense.

William first contends that the juvenile court erred in denying his motion for a continuance. Counsel had requested a two-week continuance in order to obtain the results of the FAS evaluation that William had undergone the previous Friday and to investigate placement in an alternative group home such as Ryther, which counsel believed would be more responsive to long-term William's needs. As a result of the court's ruling, William contends that he was denied his right to effective assistance because counsel was unable to prepare adequately for the Disposition hearing. The court's ruling on a continuance is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. State v. Brett, 126 Wash. 2d 136, 204, 892 P.2d 29 (1995).

Under the circumstances of this case, trial counsel was not hampered in her representation by the absence of William's FAS evaluation. The juvenile court already had before it the evaluations of Dr. Varley and Dr. LaDue, who both traced William's lower intelligence, severe emotional and behavioral problems, and high risk to reoffend to suspected FAS. Although the FAS report could have confirmed the suspected diagnosis, nothing in the record indicates what additional evidence, material to the Disposition, would have been supplied by the evaluation results. See State v. Brett, 126 Wash. 2d at 204 (during penalty phase of capital murder case, trial court did abuse its discretion in denying continuance for FAS evaluation where evidence already in record supported inference that defendant suffered from FAS and defense expert indicated evaluation would merely place "label" on evidence already admitted).

In addition, the Disposition had already been continued 5 times, while William remained in detention for 4 months. The probation counselor indicated that this protracted period of detention had been harmful to William because it had postponed any treatment. Defense counsel acknowledged that she had been unable to make any progress in exploring an alternative placement for William, in part because of a lack of cooperation from William's father. As the juvenile court observed, substantially more than 2 weeks would be required before the availability of a place in an alternative facility could even be determined. Under these circumstances, the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a continuance.

William next contends that the Disposition must be reversed because the juvenile court failed to comply with JuCR 7.12(e), which requires the court to set forth on the order those portions of the record material to the Disposition. William also notes that the court failed to enter any written findings and Conclusions in support of the manifest inJustice determination.

Written findings and Conclusions in support of a manifest inJustice Disposition are not required. State v. E.J.H., 65 Wash. App. 771, 774-75, 830 P.2d 375 (1992). In its oral decision, the juvenile court set forth its reasons for the manifest inJustice Disposition, and the record, including the Disposition reports, is sufficiently clear to permit this court to review the adequacy of those reasons. Because the record is sufficient to permit meaningful appellate review, ...


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