Collaboration in Civic Spheres

State Supreme Court: Bothell violated defendant’s civil right to fair trial

by Kyle Kim August 2nd, 2011


SUMMARY: The Washington Supreme Court late last week confirmed a man convicted of stalking in Bothell will get a new trial because he didn’t get a fair hearing of his peers. The justices ruled that under the state constitution, the city court erred in permitting King County residents on the jury, when the alleged crime was committed in the Snohomish County part of Bothell. Bothell is one of six Washington cities which are in more than one county. The case will now go back to Bothell Municipal Court for a new trial.

KEY LINK: “City of Bothell v. Barnhart,” Supreme Court of the State of Washington, July 28, 2011.

KEY FACTS:

  • The Washington State Supreme Court last week upheld an earlier State Court of Appeals ruling that the City of Bothell violated James K. Barnhart’s civil right to a fair trial on April 2007 stalking charges because two members of the jury which convicted him lived outside Snohomish County, where the alleged crime occurred.
  • Barnhart in 2010 appealed his stalking conviction to the King County Superior Court, claiming the jury’s composition in the Bothell Municipal Court case violated his civil rights to a fair trial under Article I, Section 22 of the state constitution, which states in part that criminal defendants are entitled “to have a speedy public trial by an impartial jury of the county in which the offense is charged to have been committed.” King County Superior Court sided with the original court’s judgment but the decision was later reversed by the Washington Court of Appeals.
  • Bothell appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing in part that Barnhart waived any claim of error by failing to exercise his peremptory challenges – a legal right to reject during selection a certain number of potential jurors whom appear to have an unfavorable bias – and that any error that did occur was harmless.
  • However, the State Supreme Court ruled the selection of the jurors indeed violated Barnhart’s rights under article I, section 22 of the Washington Constitution, the Declaration of Rights.
  • The high court sent the case back to Bothell Municipal Court, for a new trial, with a jury composed exclusively of Snohomish County residents.
  • Public Data Ferret’s Washington state and courts archive


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    2 Responses to “State Supreme Court: Bothell violated defendant’s civil right to fair trial”

    1. BenJammin says:

      Sounds like the City did a little venue shopping…for a more conservative jury…

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