618 P.2d 121 (Wash.App. Div. 1 1980), 7879-8, State v. Whittington

Docket Nº:7879-8-I.
Citation:618 P.2d 121, 27 Wn.App. 422
Party Name:STATE of Washington, Respondent, v. Paul WHITTINGTON, Appellant.
Attorney:Dennis Lee Burman, Jay Carey, Arlington, for appellant., Russell Juckett, Snohomish County Pros. Atty., William W. Spencer, Deputy Pros. Atty., Everett, for respondent.
Judge Panel:CALLOW, C. J., and JAMES, J., concur.
Case Date:October 13, 1980
Court:Court of Appeals of Washington

Page 121

618 P.2d 121 (Wash.App. Div. 1 1980)

27 Wn.App. 422

STATE of Washington, Respondent,


Paul WHITTINGTON, Appellant.

No. 7879-8-I.

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1.

October 13, 1980

[27 Wn.App. 423]

Page 122

Dennis Lee Burman, Jay Carey, Arlington, for appellant.

Russell Juckett, Snohomish County Pros. Atty., William W. Spencer, Deputy Pros. Atty., Everett, for respondent.


Paul Whittington, age 14, appeals from his sentence of 52 weeks in the custody of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), based on a finding of "manifest injustice" under RCW 13.40.160(2).

Whittington was convicted of second-degree reckless burning at an adjudicatory hearing on June 18, 1979. At the conclusion of the hearing, the State informed the court that it would seek a finding of "manifest injustice" at the disposition hearing.

At the disposition hearing on July 6, 1979 the court heard testimony from Whittington's mother, aunt, and probation counselor, and informed the parties that it had previously reviewed the State's presentence report. Whittington's counsel charged that the "manifest injustice" provision was unconstitutionally vague, and objected to the State's failure to provide prior written notice of its intent to seek it. He did not, however, object to the unsworn testimony of the probation counselor, or to the court's use of the presentence report.

The court found that it would be "manifestly unjust" to sentence Whittington within the standard range for a juvenile first offender because of the lack of rehabilitation programs available, Whittington's danger to himself and to society, and lack of parental control. He was sentenced to 52 weeks in the custody of DSHS. On September 27, 1979, the court designated the portions of the record on which it had relied in making its finding of manifest injustice, listing [27 Wn.App. 424] the presentence report, as well as a number of letters written by persons who had dealt with Whittington, expressing their evaluations of him.

Whittington first assigns error to the State's failure to provide him with prior written notice that it would seek a declaration

Page 123

of "manifest injustice." He claims that due process requires written notice of the specific charges and factual allegations to be considered at the hearing sufficiently in advance to permit adequate preparation.

Whittington relies primarily on Specht v. Patterson, 386 U.S. 605, 87 S.Ct. 1209, 18 L.Ed.2d 326 (1967) where the court found the Colorado Sex Offender's Act to be unconstitutional. Holding that the defendant was "entitled to the full panoply of the relevant protections which due process guarantees in state criminal proceedings", Specht v. Patterson, supra at 609, 87 S.Ct. at 1212, quoting from United States ex rel. Gerchman v. Maroney, 355 F.2d 302, 312 (3d Cir. 1966), the court noted:

The case is not unlike those under recidivist statutes where an habitual criminal issue is "a distinct issue" (citation omitted) on which a defendant "must receive reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard." Oyler v. Boles, 368 U.S. 448, 452, 82 S.Ct. 501, 503, 7 L.Ed.2d 446; Chandler v. Fretag, 348 U.S. 3, 8, 75 S.Ct. 1, 4, 99 L.Ed. 4.

Specht v. Patterson, supra, 386 U.S. at 610, 87 S.Ct. at 1212.

The State argues that our statute 1 is distinguishable from that declared unconstitutional in Specht, citing a line [27 Wn.App. 425] of federal cases that found Specht inapplicable to an analogous federal sentencing scheme. United States v. Neary, 552 F.2d 1184 (7th Cir. 1977); United States v. Bowdach, 561 F.2d 1160 (5th Cir. 1977); United States v. Stewart, 531 F.2d 326, 41 A.L.R.Fed. 550 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 426 U.S. 922, 96 S.Ct. 2629, 49 L.Ed.2d 376 (1976); United States v. Williamson, 567 F.2d 610 (4th Cir. 1977). However, inasmuch as those cases either avoided or distinguished Specht, they do not provide sufficient guidance upon which we can rely here.

To the contrary, Washington courts have adopted the Specht due process standards. In State v. Frazier, 81 Wash.2d 628, 503 P.2d 1073 (1972), the Supreme...

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