Friday, November 15, 2013

City of Auburn v. Hedlund case brief

City of Auburn v. Hedlund case brief summary
201 P.3d 315 (2009)

The Washington Court of Appeals, Division One, affirmed a superior court judge's reversal of defendant's conviction in municipal court for being an accomplice to driving under the influence (DUI), concluding that defendant was a victim of that crime. Review was granted.

Defendant hosted a party where the liquor flowed freely. Following the party, defendant was the only survivor of a single car accident. No one saw the crash, but the events inside the car were videotaped. During the drive, defendant was in the front passenger seat, on her knees, facing the rear of the car, filming. In addition to the DUI conviction, she was convicted for furnishing alcohol and tobacco to a minor.

  • The instant court concluded that because defendant was a victim of the DUI, she could not be charged as an accomplice under Wash. Rev. Code § 9A.08.020. 
  • While defendant's conduct was reprehensible and indeed criminal, it was not absurd to say that she had been punished enough. 
  • In addition to the loss of her fiance as well as several friends, she spent months rehabilitating from her own severe injuries. 
  • Further legal penalties would be dwarfed by the suffering she had already endured. 
  • The instant court further concluded that the superior court properly reversed defendant's convictions based on the erroneous admission of a tape of a 911 call. 
  • Although the caller described a gruesome scene, the gruesome nature of the crash was not related to any element of any crime charged.
The dismissal of defendant's DUI conviction was affirmed. Defendant's convictions for furnishing alcohol and tobacco to a minor were reversed.

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