WSR 06-23-021



[ November 2, 2006 ]





NO. 25700-A-858

The Washington Death Penalty Assistance Center having recommended the adoption of the proposed adoption of New SPRC 8, and the Court having approved the proposed amendments for publication;

Now, therefore, it is hereby


(a) That pursuant to the provisions of GR 9(g), the proposed amendments as attached hereto are to be published for comment in the Washington Reports, Washington Register, Washington State Bar Association and Office of the Administrator for the Courts' Web sites in January, 2007.

(b) The purpose statement as required by GR 9(e), is published solely for the information of the Bench, Bar and other interested parties.

(c) Comments are to be submitted to the Clerk of the Supreme Court by either U.S. Mail or Internet E-Mail by no later than April 30, 2007. Comments may be sent to the following addresses: P.O. Box 40929, Olympia, Washington 98504-0929, or Comments submitted by e-mail message must be limited to 1500 words.

DATED at Olympia, Washington this 2nd day of November, 2006.
For the Court
Gerry L. Alexander

New SPRC 8

GR 9 Purpose Statement

This suggested rule is a corollary to SPRC 2 which requires that defense counsel in potential capital trials be selected from the Court's death penalty qualified counsel list. SPRC 2 anticipates that it will apply when aggravated murder is charged until it is a matter of record the death penalty will not be sought. For instance the comment to the rule provides:

If the time period for filing the death notice has passed, and the death notice has not been filed, the court may then reduce the number of attorneys to one to proceed with the murder trial.

However, it is very difficult to keep track of charging by all the counties. Without a centralized notice requirement the only way to monitor the filing of aggravated murder charges throughout the state is for someone to make regular inquiries to each of the 39 prosecuting attorney or clerk's office in the state. It is possible attorney appointing agents, whether judicial or county officers, may not comply with SPRC 2 when appointing counsel in aggravated murder cases because they either are not familiar with SPRC 2 or may believe there is no need for qualified counsel until a notice of special sentencing procedure is filed. Prompt notification of aggravated murder filings to an appropriate statewide office will assure the appointing officials are aware of SPRC 2 and that appointed counsel are notified of their obligations under the rule and of resources available to them.

The Washington State Office of Public Defense (OPD) is suggested as the receiving agency for the notification because of its fundamental interest in standards of defense representation in Washington. OPD may easily be contacted by interested entities, such as the Washington Death Penalty Assistance Center or WACDL Death Penalty Committee, who may wish to alert counsel appointed in aggravated murder cases to resources and training opportunities available through those offices. However, the Supreme Court Clerk's office would also be an entirely appropriate office to receive the notices of aggravated murder filings.

The notice of aggravated murder filings should not place a significant burden on prosecuting attorneys as copies of the informations could be filed electronically. At most, an additional paper copy of the charging documents would be made and mailed to the receiving agency.

Failure to comply with this rule should not necessarily be grounds to bar or dismiss a notice of intent to seek the death penalty unless a defendant is able to show prejudice to his defense.

New SPRC 8


When a prosecuting attorney files an information charging aggravated murder as defined in RCW 10.95.020, within one business day he or she shall submit a copy of the information to the Washington State Office of Public Defense. When the prosecuting attorney decides whether the prosecution will or will not file a notice of special sentencing proceeding pursuant to RCW 10.95.040, he or she shall notify the Office of Public Defense of the decision in writing within one business day of notification to the defendant or one business day after the death notice date has passed.

Reviser's note: The typographical errors in the above material occurred in the copy filed by the state supreme court and appear in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office