King v. Olympic Pipeline stands for the position that if there is both a civil and criminal case stemming from the same incident, the defendant may request that the civil matter be stayed until the criminal case is resolved. This can occur in a domestic violence incident where criminal charges are filed, and there may also be a civil protection order or personal injury law suit pending that was filed by the victim. In a criminal case, a defendant has a 5th amendment right to not testify and incriminate themselves, so the logic being resolve the criminal case first, and then turn to the civil case second. However, in the recent decision of Smith v. Smith, the court ruled that this is not always the case. In the decision, the court denied the Defendant’s request to stay the civil case until the criminal case was resolved because the court found that the Olympic Pipeline factors weighed against the defendant.
In a recent decision stemming from the Pierce County Superior Court case, Meinhart v. Anaya, the plaintiffs prevailed at a jury trial and the jury awarded the plaintiffs nearly all of their requested medical expenses, but for some reason, the jury declined to award the plaintiffs any noneconomic damages (pain and suffering). The plaintiffs’ attorney requested a new trial based on this unusual verdict, but the court denied the request. On appeal, the court held that because “[t]here was no evidence from which the jury could have concluded that [the plaintiffs] suffered no pain and suffering” that the “trial court abused its discretion in denying the [plaintiffs’] motion for a new trial.”
A good attorney will know all the judges in a particular jurisdiction and what judges are good for each particular kind of case and issue. But how can an attorney get a particular case set in front of the ideal judge? In Washington State, we have an affidavit of prejudice statute, RCW 4.12.050, Superior Court Criminal Rule 8.9, and CrRLJ 8.9 (for District Court). If a criminal case was a game of cards, the affidavit of prejudice rule is a playing card that says if an attorney or defendant thinks that a particular judge cannot be fair and impartial, they can play a card against that judge and a replacement judge must be brought in. But you can only play this card once. Also, there are limits as to when you can play this card. So while you cannot pick the best judge for your particular case, you can get rid of the worst judge.