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In re Personal Restraint Petition of Fowler

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2

June 11, 2019

In the Matter of the Personal Restraint Petition of VINCENT L. FOWLER, Petitioner.

          Worswick, J.

         Vincent Fowler filed his personal restraint petition (PRP) about five months after the one year period to file his PRP expired. He asserts that the time bar should be equitably tolled because his former counsel failed to communicate with him and subsequently resigned from the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) in lieu of discipline. We dismiss Fowler's PRP as untimely.

         FACTS

         Fowler was accused of sexually assaulting two children, and was convicted of two counts of first degree child molestation and one count of first degree rape of a child. The trial court imposed discretionary legal financial obligations (LFOs). Fowler appealed.

         On August 18, 2015, Division Three of this court affirmed Fowler's convictions on direct appeal. State v. Fowler, No. 33227-6-III, slip op. at 1 (Wash.Ct.App. Aug. 18, 2015) (unpublished), http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/332276.unp.pdf. On September 16, Fowler's direct appeal counsel filed a petition for review with our Supreme Court. In September, Fowler's brother Darryl Fowler retained a different attorney, John Crowley, to represent Fowler in additional postconviction matters.

         On March 31, 2016, our Supreme Court granted review "only on the issue of imposition of discretionary legal financial obligations" and remanded to the superior court to "reconsider the imposition" of discretionary LFOs consistent with State v. Blazina, 182 Wn.2d 827, 344 P.3d 680 (2015). State v. Fowler, 185 Wn.2d 1016, 368 P.3d 170 (2016). On October 19, the superior court entered an order amending Fowler's judgment and sentence, which amended the imposition of LFOs, and stated that "all other conditions of the Judgment and Sentence remain in effect." Br. of Resp't at App. E.

         On May 22, 2017, the WSBA filed a complaint against Crowley for numerous violations of the Rules for Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct. On July18, Crowley resigned in lieu of discipline. On October 9, Fowler retained current counsel.

         On October 18, current counsel filed a document he described as a "placeholder" petition in this court. This document did not raise any issues, but instead described Crowley's nonfeasance on this case and stated, "Given the above, the grounds for relief are yet unclear. More time is required to obtain prior counsel's file, diagnose issues, conduct investigation, if necessary, and then prepare and file the petition." Pet. for Review at 4.

         On November 21, we issued the followed ruling:

Petitioner has filed a "placeholder petition" and requests that this court grant him an extension of time in which to file his complete petition. We consider this as a motion to file a supplemental petition and grant the motion. Petitioner should file his supplemental petition, in which he must address why this court should consider waiving the one-year time bar (RCW 10.73.090) or establish that the issues he raises in his supplemental petition are not subject to the time-bar, within 60 days of the date of this ruling.

         Ruling by Commissioner re "Placeholder Petition," State v. Fowler, No. 51029-4-II, at 1 (Wash.Ct.App. Nov. 21, 2017).

         On January 23, 2018, this court granted additional time to file a supplemental petition, subject to the conditions of this court's November 21 ruling. Ruling Granting Extension of Time, State v. Fowler, No. 51029-4-II, at 1 (Wash.Ct.App. Jan. 23, 2018). On March 26, 2018, current counsel filed a supplemental petition arguing ineffective assistance of counsel.[1]

         ANALYSIS

         I. PRP ...


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