Holt v. Morris, 43036

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Citation529 P.2d 1081,84 Wn.2d 841
Docket NumberNo. 43036,43036
PartiesRobert HOLT, Petitioner, v. Charles R. MORRIS, Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services, Respondent.
Decision Date26 December 1974

Page 841

84 Wn.2d 841
529 P.2d 1081
Robert HOLT, Petitioner,
Charles R. MORRIS, Secretary of the Department of Social and
Health Services, Respondent.
No. 43036.
Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc.
Dec. 26, 1974.

[529 P.2d 1082] Legal Services Center,

Page 842

Richard D. Emery, Allen Ressler, Seattle, for petitioner.

William C. Collins, Asst. Atty. Gen., Olympia, for respondent.

FINLEY, Associate Justice.

In a petition to the Supreme Court for writ of habeas corpus, petitioner Robert K. Holt seeks a new trial respecting a charge of second-degree assault to which he pled guilty and was sentenced to a maximum of ten years in prison. The Board of Prison Terms and Paroles has set petitioner's minimum term at two years.

Petitioner Holt alleges he was unconstitutionally deprived of due process of law in regard to his plea of guilty and the imposition of sentence by the trial court. More specifically, he asserts he was not represented by counsel prior to his plea of guilty and that the trial judge failed to advise him of the nature of the charge against him, possible defenses to it, and the possible consequences of the plea of guilty and conviction on the charge. In addition, he claims that an ostensibly friendly Officer Rush assured him at the time of trial that he would need no attorney and would be better off if he pled guilty.

Respondent Department of Social and Health Services, represented by the Attorney General's office, has moved to dismiss the petition on two grounds. First, that the petition is improperly filed in the Supreme Court; that it should have been filed in the Court of Appeals as provided in CrR 7.7(a).

Such petition shall be directed to the chief judge of the court of appeals in the district in which the court that imposed the sentence or order is located and shall be filed on a standard form approved by the Supreme Court and appearing as section (j) of this rule.

Second, respondent contends the petition is completely without merit. We agree with both contentions of respondent

Page 843

and have concluded that the petition should be dismissed on both grounds.

Prior to 1947, post-conviction relief by petition for a writ of habeas corpus was by decisional law traditionally limited to cases where the judgment and sentence could be said to be void on its face. Determinations as to voidness were, as a matter of course, made judicially without looking into and examining the record and without any testimony or evidence being adduced by remand to a trial court. See In re Grieve, 22 Wash.2d 902, 158 P.2d 73 (1945). But in 1947 the legislature in amending RCW 7.36.130(1) attempted to significantly enlarge the ambit of post-conviction relief by way of petitions for a writ of habeas corpus. Article 4, § 4 of the State Constitution prescribes the habeas corpus jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. There is a question as to whether such jurisdiction established and authorized by Const. Art. 4, § 4 can be altered by the legislature without first amending the Constitution. Be this as it may, the 1947 statutory amendment, coupled with a growing social need and demand for a more viable post-conviction procedure, seems to have prompted the Supreme Court to enhance the ambit of habeas corpus procedure substantially beyond the pre-existent traditional limitations indicated above. This development, partly attributable to the statutory enactment, but essentially the result of creative judicial decision making, filled a post-conviction relief vacuum caused by the lack of any comprehensive and clearly articulated post-conviction relief procedure provided either by statutory enactment or [529 P.2d 1083] by court rules promulgated by the Supreme Court. The indicated expansion of the ambit of habeas corpus served a growing need and demand for improvement in post-conviction review and relief regarding claims of due process errors in the trial of criminal cases. However, the procedure which developed on a case-by-case basis was fraught with uncertainties because of the lack of specificity as to grounds for post-conviction relief and was attended with considerable delay in the processing of writs for habeas corpus at the Supreme Court level. In numerous

Page 844

instances, because of the appellate nature of the Supreme Court, cases had to be remanded to the trial courts for the taking of testimony and evidence, and the hearing and determination of factual issues. Deferral and delay as to final disposition was an almost inevitable result.

The American Bar Association project on Minimum Standards for Criminal Justice and the commentary to its proposed 'Standards Relating to Post Conviction Remedies (Approved Draft 1968)' recognized the need for a 'single unitary post conviction remedy.' The comments to the Washington Proposed Rules of Criminal Procedure also emphasized the need for a unified, systematic, expeditious procedure for post-conviction relief. The general comment of the task force regarding CrR 7.7 of the proposed rules of Criminal Procedure reads:

Post-conviction review has become an established part of the criminal process. The establishment of this procedure is a by-product of the changes in criteria governing criminal prosecutions wrought by the United States Supreme Court. As new minimum standards have been recognized, pressures have developed for efficacious post-conviction remedies to deal with the ramifications of the changes. Sometimes described as the retroactivity of judicial decisions (or statutory enactments) the difficult problem posed is whether society will continue to deprive persons of liberty despite a policy change as manifested in the new decisions.

Presently, Washington lacks any systematic procedure for post-conviction relief. The Task Force felt that case law procedures did not serve satisfactorily in many respects. The Task Force believes that it is preferable in pursuit of justice and administratively most efficient, to develop a system that will treat post-conviction applications on their underlying merits rather than to create an elaborate overlay of procedural rules to attempt to dispose of them.

We are convinced that with the adoption of CrR 7.7 the pre-existing, somewhat haphazard habeas corpus procedure which had developed essentially on a case-to-case basis has now been replaced by a sound, more expeditious single,

Page 845

comprehensive system for post-conviction review designed to avoid technicalities and delay and to focus attention promptly and directly on the merits or lack of merits presented in petitions for post-conviction relief.

In behalf of Petitioner Holt, it is contended that CrR 7.7 is merely supplementary to pre-existing habeas corpus procedures and furthermore that CrR 7.7 does not and cannot deprive a convicted criminal offender of the right to file a petition for an original writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court. We disagree.

The purpose and the hoped for efficacy of the procedures provided in CrR 7.7 have been discussed heretofore. The Washington Constitution, Art. 4, § 4 reads as follows:

The supreme court shall have original jurisdiction in habeas corpus, and quo warranto and mandamus as to all state officers, and appellate jurisdiction in all actions and proceedings, excepting that its appellate jurisdiction shall not extend to civil actions at law for the recovery of money or personal property when the original amount in controversy, or the value of the property does not exceed the sum of two hundred dollars ($200) [529 P.2d 1084] unless the action involves the legality of a tax, impost, assessment, tool, municipal fine, or the validity of a statute. The supreme court shall also have power to issue writs of mandamus, review, prohibition, habeas corpus, certiorari and all other writs necessary and proper to the complete exercise of its appellate and revisory jurisdiction. Each of the judges shall have power to issue writs of habeas corpus to any part of the state upon petition by or on behalf of...

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19 cases
  • In re Coats, 83544–6.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • November 17, 2011
    ...See Laws of 1989, ch. 395 (enacting a personal restraint petition statute); 2 [267 P.3d 328] Holt v. Morris, 84 Wash.2d 841, 843–45, 529 P.2d 1081 (1974). (reviewing expansion of judicial review and collateral relief since 1947). But this strict limitation on the scope of collateral review ......
  • Department of Ecology v. State Finance Committee, 57437-5
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • January 17, 1991
    ...mandamus as to all state officers. That jurisdiction is, however, nonexclusive and discretionary. Holt v. Morris, 84 Wash.2d 841, 845-46, 529 P.2d 1081 (1974). Therefore, the first question we must address is whether it is appropriate for us to exercise our Whether this court will exercise ......
  • Petition of Runyan, s. 58672-1
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • May 20, 1993
    ...902, 904, 158 P.2d 73 (1945); Palmer v. Cranor, 45 Wash.2d 278, 280, 273 P.2d 985 (1954). See also Holt v. Morris, 84 Wash.2d 841, 852, 529 P.2d 1081 (1974) (Hale, C.J., concurring); In re Haynes, 95 Wash.2d 648, 653, 628 P.2d 809 (1981), overruled in part on other grounds in In re Hews, 99......
  • In re Turay, 73255-8.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • August 21, 2003
    ...and fully effective grant of original habeas corpus jurisdiction to the court of appeals." Holt v. Morris, 84 Wash.2d 841, 845 n. 1, 529 P.2d 1081 (1974), overruled in part on other grounds by Wright v. Morris, 85 Wash.2d 899, 540 P.2d 893 (1975); see Johnson, 131 Wash.2d at 565, 933 P.2d 1......
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