Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Personal Restraint of James

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

May 10, 2018

In the Matter of the Personal Restraint of ROBERT EDWARD JAMES, Petitioner.

          PER CURIAM.

         Robert James timely filed a personal restraint petition with supporting documents. The acting chief judge of Division Two of the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition as frivolous, and this court's commissioner denied James's motion for discretionary review. Based on the evidence included in James's pleadings and the State's subsequent statements, we grant James's motion to modify the commissioner's ruling, grant discretionary review, and remand to the Court of Appeals for further consideration.

         FACTS

         A jury convicted James of second degree rape.[1] At trial, the State presented evidence that a swab from S.C.'s neck contained a mixed DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) profile consistent with James and S.C. All of the male DNA located on S.C. matched James. The anal swab obtained from S.C. contained P3O, a protein commonly found in semen, but no DNA was recovered from the swab. James's defense was general denial based on the theory that while he engaged in consensual nonintercourse sexual activity with S.C, she was raped by someone else after he left. In the defense trial brief, defense counsel accurately stated that James's DNA was found on both sides of S.C.'s neck, but in a possible reference to the P3O found in the anal swab, counsel erroneously added that an "unidentified male's DNA" was found elsewhere on her body.

         The State's DNA expert testified on direct examination that the anal swabs were tested for P3O, a protein used to indicate the presence of semen. The expert further explained that the P3O test cannot identify the donor of the semen. The P3O test results were positive for the presence of semen, but the anal swabs contained no male DNA. Yet, after this explanation, James's defense counsel asked if the expert was able to retrieve DNA from the anal swab, and why she was unable to do so. When the expert again explained that a presumptive test for semen does not always yield DNA, defense counsel responded by incorrectly implying that the expert had concluded there was more than one male DNA profile on the victim:

[DEFENSE COUNSEL:] Okay, now, you found another deduced male profile from the right neck sample?
[EXPERT:] The mixture is consistent with [the victim] and Mr. James, with the assumption that [the victim] is present on her own neck swab. The types of the STRs [(short tandem repeats)] that are present do not belong to her and can be subtracted out into a deduced male profile.

         Verbatim Report of Proceedings (Mar. 27, 2013) at 83. Then, in response, defense counsel again incorrectly indicated that there was more than one male DNA profile on victim:

[DEFENSE COUNSEL:] Okay, and that would be something other than the profile of Mr. James?
[EXPERT:] No, in fact, those types do match Mr. James....

Id. at 84.

         The jury found him guilty. As noted above, James, acting pro se, timely filed a personal restraint petition in the Court of Appeals on October 20, 2015, asserting several grounds for relief. James was permitted to file an overlength brief with several documents attached, including his personal declaration, a Washington State Patrol crime laboratory DNA report, and letters he wrote to defense counsel and the prosecutor that included repeated requests for a copy of an allegedly favorable plea offer.

         The acting chief judge ultimately dismissed the personal restraint petition as frivolous, explaining his ruling as to each claim. James timely moved for this court's discretionary review. In denying review, the commissioner indicated that James failed to provide adequate evidence to support the claim that counsel was ineffective for failing to properly investigate and understand the DNA evidence. James moved to modify the commissioner's ruling on various grounds, and the court directed the State to respond to the motion. For reasons ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.