State v. Fenter

Decision Date15 September 1977
Docket NumberNo. 44728,44728
Citation569 P.2d 67,89 Wn.2d 57
PartiesSTATE of Washington, Respondent, v. George William FENTER, Appellant.
CourtWashington Supreme Court

L. W. Kahn, Everett, for appellant.

Robert Schillberg, Pros. Atty., Randolph Furman, Everett, for respondent.

HAMILTON, Associate Justice.

This appeal is before us on the defendant's (petitioner's) motion for discretionary review of the trial court's denial of his motion to quash and bar an indictment issued by the Snohomish County grand jury. RAP 2.3, 6.2(a). We affirm the trial court.

On April 12, 1976, a majority of the Snohomish County Superior Court judges ordered the drawing and impaneling of a grand jury in Snohomish County. 1 The persons selected as grand jurors were sworn in and began sitting as a grand jury on May 17, 1976. On July 2, 1976, the Snohomish County Superior Court judges entered an order extending for 60 days the term of the grand jury, commencing on July 15, 1976. On September 9, 1976, the judges entered an order extending the term of the grand jury for a period of 28 days, commencing on September 13, 1976.

The grand jury, on September 17, 1976, issued an indictment charging the defendant with second-degree forgery (RCW 9.44.040) and second-degree perjury (RCW 9.72.030). The indictment alleged the defendant committed these crimes in Snohomish County on May 26, 1975. In a pretrial motion the defendant moved to quash this indictment on two grounds, which are the same grounds he relies on here for reversal of the trial court. First, he alleges the grand jury was not a legal body at the time it issued the indictment and thus the indictment must fall. Second, he contends he cannot be charged under RCW 9.44.040 and RCW 9.72.030 because the indictment was issued after the repeal of these statutes. 2

Defendant premises his first argument on his interpretation of RCW 10.27.110 as limiting the grand jury's term to one 60-day period. RCW 10.27.110 provides:

The length of time which a grand jury may sit after being convened shall not exceed sixty days. Before expiration of the sixty day period and any extensions, and upon showing of good cause, the court may order the grand jury panel extended for a period not to exceed sixty days.

Defendant's interpretation of RCW 10.27.110 relies too heavily on the first sentence of RCW 10.27.110. In interpreting or construing a statute to discern the legislative intent, the statute must be read as a whole. Legislative intent cannot be ascertained from a single sentence. Greenwood v. State Bd. for Community College Educ., 82 Wash.2d 667, 513 P.2d 57 (1973). We believe the second sentence of RCW 10.27.110 clearly permits the judges of a superior court to extend the term of a grand jury beyond the initial 60-day term. The only limitations contained in RCW 10.27.110 on granting the extension are: (1) good cause must be shown for the extension; and (2) the extension must not exceed 60 days.

Because the Snohomish County grand jury issued the indictment during its second extension, one more issue necessarily arises. Can the Superior Court order more than one extension of the grand jury's term? From our reading of RCW 10.27.110, the answer is clearly yes. As a general rule of statutory interpretation, each word of a statute must be accorded meaning, for the legislature is presumed not to have used superfluous words. State v. Lundquist, 60 Wash.2d 397, 374 P.2d 246 (1962). RCW 10.27.110 authorizes an extension so long as the extension is ordered prior to the "expiration of the sixty day period and any extensions ". (Italics ours.) An interpretation of RCW 10.27.110 as allowing only one 60-day extension after the initial 60-day term of the grand jury would necessarily render superfluous the words "any extensions", for the statute would accomplish the result argued for by defendant without these words. The use of the words "any extensions" in the plural clearly expresses a legislative intent that more than one extension may be granted. Thus, the Snohomish County Superior Court judges did have statutory authority to order the two extensions, and the grand jury was a legal body at the time it issued the indictment against defendant. See, e. g., State v. McReynolds, 212 Or. 325, 319 P.2d 904 (1957).

One final matter must be addressed concerning the extensions granted to the Snohomish County grand jury. Defendant argues the Snohomish County Superior Court judges did not have good cause to order the grand jury's term extended. In answering this contention, we need only point out that the two orders granting the extensions each recite that "good cause has been shown to order an extension". Defendant presented no evidence to the trial court which would refute these recitals. Further discussion of this point is not merited.

Defendant next argues he cannot be charged under RCW 9.44.040 and RCW 9.72.030 because these statutes were repealed prior to the grand jury's issuance of the indictment. He bases his argument on his reading of RCW 9A.98.020, which provides:

The laws repealed by RCW 9A.98.010 are repealed except with respect to rights and duties which matured, penalties which were incurred, and proceedings which were begun before July 1, 1976.

Defendant argues that because RCW 9A.98.020 specifically exempts from repeal offenses in which proceedings were begun prior to July 1, 1976, the legislature necessarily intended that persons who committed offenses under statutes which were repealed by RCW 9A.98.010 could not be charged with these crimes unless the charges were filed prior to July 1, 1976. We disagree.

Washington has a general "savings" statute in RCW 10.01.040, which provides, in part:

No offense committed and no penalty or forfeiture incurred previous to the time when any statutory provision shall be repealed, whether such repeal be express or implied, shall be affected by such repeal, unless a contrary intention is expressly declared in the repealing act . . .

We have previously held that this statute applies to all repealed criminal statutes. See State v. Hanlen, 193 Wash. 494, 76 P.2d 316 (1938); State v. Ficklin, 192 Wash. 575, 74 P.2d 187 (1937); State v. Hanlen, 190 Wash. 563, 69 P.2d 806 (1937). Although RCW 9A.98.020 exempts three categories from repeal and thus acts as a mini-savings statute, it does not expressly state that these three categories are the only categories exempt from repeal. Therefore, we find no express legislative intent that the general savings statute, RCW 10.01.040, does not apply to the statutes repealed by RCW 9A.98.010.

In addition, the Court of Appeals, in State v. Walker, 7 Wash.App. 878, 503 P.2d 128 (1972), reversed on other grounds, 82 Wash.2d 851, 514 P.2d 919 (1973), was faced with the identical question to the one presented...

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29 cases
  • State v. Ross
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • August 12, 2004
    ...which amends or repeals an existing penal statute." State v. Hanlen, 193 Wash. 494, 497, 76 P.2d 316 (1938). See also State v. Fenter, 89 Wash.2d 57, 61, 569 P.2d 67 (1977) (holding that the savings clause applied to former criminal statutory provisions later repealed by the legislature; pu......
  • State v. McCullum
    • United States
    • Washington Supreme Court
    • January 6, 1983
    ...construing legislation, we presume the Legislature is familiar with past judicial interpretations of its enactments. State v. Fenter, 89 Wash.2d 57, 62, 569 P.2d 67 (1977). In the absence of an indication from the Legislature that it intended to overrule the common law, new legislation will......
  • State v. Martin
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    • Washington Supreme Court
    • July 15, 1980
    ...legislature were aware of the state of the law and of prior drafts of the bill at the time RCW 10.94 was enacted. See State v. Fenter, 89 Wash.2d 57, 569 P.2d 67 (1977); State ex rel. Fair v. Hamilton, supra, 92 Wash. at 352, 159 P. 379; 2A Sands, Sutherland Statutory Construction § 48.04, ......
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    • Washington Supreme Court
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    ...International Bhd. of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen & Helpers, 94 Wash.2d 508, 511, 617 P.2d 1004 (1980) (citing State v. Fenter, 89 Wash.2d 57, 569 P.2d 67 (1977); Daly v. Chapman, 85 Wash.2d 780, 539 P.2d 831 (1975)). "The legislature, within constitutional constraints, is the body ......
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