Rand L Koler & Associates, PS

A law firm providing personalized service with years of experience in real estate, business, and litigation. Now providing probate services as well.

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Bigamy has long been criminalized and late in the 19th century the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Constitution’s guaranty of religious freedom did not allow a Mormon to avoid prosecution for bigamy. The decision, Reynolds v. U.S., is here: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1104642225155375579 . A decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a constitutional challenge to Utah’s anti-bigamy statute on technical grounds rather than relying on — or even mentioning — the nearly 130 year old precedent. https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/14/14-4117.pdf . I wonder whether the intersection of religious freedom and rule of law is is becoming less clear.

scholar.google.com 4. Was the testimony of Amelia Jane Schofield, given at a former trial for the same offence, but under another indictment, improperly admitted in evidence?

[04/12/16]   John Doe v. Washington State Patrol, a recent Washington Supreme Court case, gives a good summary of the law pf public disclosure. This case involved a request for a data base involving sex offenders.

[04/11/16]   Tatoo artists are not required to use sterile ink. In Chester v. Deep Roots Tatoo & Body Modification, a decision published last week, the Court of Appeal, Division 1, sustained the dismissal of a negligence claim against a tatoo shop owner after finding that there was no requirement that sterile ink be used. In this case the contamination occurred during the manufacture of black ink and resulted in minor difficulties for most clients of the shop but the plaintiff in this case ended up with kidney failure before being cured.

[04/08/16]   It was recently held by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that religious freedom did not entitle the members of a native American church to an exclusion from the laws criminalizing marijuana use. Earlier this week Kansas enacted a bill that authorized virtually anyone (state employees as well a private companies) to refuse service to any LGBT person. It also authorizes employers to adopt workplace rules commonly viewed as discriminatory. All this may be done if the person doing it feels that his or her religion -- whatever it may be -- is censorious of LGBT people. And this legislation was milder than what some Southern states have done.

[04/07/16]   A few days ago the Washington State Supreme Court filed its decision in Millie v. Transamerica Transnation, a decision in which the title company admitted that it missed an easement that materially reduced the value of the land purchased by the Millies. The Millies argued that the value was reduced by $100,000 by the easement and the title company claimed only a $25,000 reduction, but the landowners were awarded nothing.

At the end of the trial each side presented jury instructions and the judge selected those presented by the title company. The jury was confused by the instructions and returned a verdict that the title company had not breached its insurance contract and the plaintiffs were awarded nothing.

The property owners appealed and their appeal was eventually heard by the state's highest court. The majority opinion was written by Justice Gonzalez, a meticulous jurist, who relied in large part on the Millies' lawyer's failure to specifically object to the title company's instructions before they went to the jury. He also called attention to the lawyer's untimely argument for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

Of particular interest to me was the dissenting opinion of Justice Stephens, the newest member of the Court and the sole dissenter. She identified a court rule that empowered the trial judge to correct the obvious error and said that the case should be returned to the trial judge "in the interest of justice."

Justice Stephens in my view has been a very impressive addition to the Court.

[04/07/16]   A few days ago the Washington State Supreme Court filed its decision in Millie v. Transamerica Transnation, a decision in which the title company admitted that it missed an easement that materially reduced the value of the land purchased by the Millies. The Millies argued that the value was reduced by $100,000 by the easement and the title company claimed only a $25,000 reduction.
At the end of the trial each side presented jury instructions and the judge selected those presented by the title company. The jury was confused by the instructions and returned a verdict that the title company had not breached its insurance contract and the plaintiffs were awarded nothing.

The property owners appealed and their appeal was eventually heard by the state's highest court. The majority opinion was written by Justice Gonzalez, a meticulous jurist, who relied in large part on the Millies' lawyer's failure to specifically object to the title company's instructions before they went to the jury. He also called attention to the lawyer's untimely argument for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

Of particular interest to me was the dissenting opinion of Justice Stephens, the newest member of the Court and the sole dissenter. She identified a court rule that empowered the trial judge to correct the obvious error and said that the case should be returned to the trial judge "in the interest of justice."

Justice Stephens in my view has been a very impressive addition to the Court.

www.courts.wa.gov

Division 3 of the Court of Appeals has come to an interesting adverse possession decision.

One of the ways to avoid adverse possession is to allow a neighbor to have possession of a portion of your yard. The neighbor's possession is not then "adverse." This case, decided last week, whittles away at the notion that granting permission can avoid an adverse possession claim. I think that this promotes litigation and frustrates good intentions.

courts.wa.gov

http://aqua.kingcounty.gov/Council/agendas/LJ/20160308-L&J-packet.pdf

This the staff report of the County Council's Law and Justice Committee on racial disparities in the county's criminal justice system begins on page 35 of this package of agenda items linked below.

The report is somewhat informative and interesting but it seems to have been slapped together. For example the report says that the average number of people incarcerated at any time has been reduced from about 3000 people to about 2000 people over the last 15 years. The staff figures that this is a 56% reduction in the jail population. This leaves the reader a little uneasy about the other conclusions and data in the report.

aqua.kingcounty.gov

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