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Sirens & Gavels

Mon., April 11, 2011, 5:56 p.m.

Hundreds of state convictions in doubt

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — At least 17 criminal convictions in Whatcom County could be overturned on appeal because jurors were questioned inside a judge's chambers, possibly violating the defendants' rights to a public trial.

The Bellingham Herald reports appeals courts have been overturning cases based on state Supreme Court rulings and sending them back for new trials.

Pam Loginsky with the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys says similar appeals could affect hundreds of cases statewide.

In Spokane, legal experts say at least one case and no more than a few overall could be affected.

The association has asked the state Supreme Court to revisit a 1995 ruling in a Whatcom County case on public trials.




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