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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: state Court of Appeals

Court upholds ‘road rage’ sentencing

By Kevin Graman

The state Court of Appeals let stand the sentencing condition imposed on a Spokane motorist who assaulted a bicyclist during a road rage incident two years ago – that he keep his anger in check.

When a jury convicted Dylan T. Anstrom, 32, of second-degree malicious mischief and fourth-degree assault last year, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen gave him two years’ probation, provided that he had no further road rage incidents.

Anstrom appealed, saying the condition violated his due process rights. This week, the Court of Appeals for Division III refused to review his appeal because he could not show that “he has been harmed by the condition in any way.”

In July 2008, Anstrom was driving near the Centennial Trail when he drove up behind two bicyclists and started honking his horn before speeding past them, nearly hitting one of them.

When Anstrom stopped at a traffic light one of the bicyclists rode up and told Anstrom he had nearly caused a serious accident, according to court documents.

Enraged and believing the bicyclist had damaged his car, Anstrom chased the bicyclist through a nearby parking lot. Unable to catch the first bicyclist, Anstrom stopped the second bicyclist and demanded to know the name of the first.

When the second bicyclist refused to give him the name, Anstrom knocked him off his bicycle, kicked him, punched him, threw the bicycle on top of the cyclist and then threw the bicycle against a telephone pole, according to court documents .

Judges look at verdict tossed over racial comments

Three state appellate judges were asked Tuesday to reinstate a verdict in favor of a local doctor after five jurors in the original malpractice trial reportedly made derogatory comments about the Japanese heritage of one of the plaintiff’s attorneys.

The case has attracted statewide attention among dozens of minority legal organizations, many of which filed arguments in support of upholding a decision by now-retired Superior Court Judge Robert Austin.

The judge granted a new trial in 2008 after two of the 12 jurors came forward and gave sworn statements about what other jurors said about attorney Mark Kamitomo, who represented the family who sued the physician for malpractice. The doctor appealed Austin’s decision.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Kamitomo (pictured above in January 2008) spoke of his surprise over the incident in a story you can read here.

Read more about Austin’s decision here.

Russell appeals his 3 convictions

Despite apologizing for the drunken crash that killed three Washington State University students and seriously injured three others (shown above), Fred Russell has appealed his conviction and 14-year prison sentence.

Read Tom Clouse’s story here.

Read past coverage of the case here

Review petition filed in school suicide lawsuit

The legal saga of the custodian who claims her school forced her to clean up a student’s suicide mess continued this month as a lawyer for the Nine Mile Falls School District asked the state Supreme Court to review a state Court of Appeals ruling regarding the lawsuit.

Debbie Rothwell claims she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after cleaning up the bloody scene inside the main entrance to Lakeside High School in 2004, then serving cookies to mourning students hours later and tending to the makeshift memorial that week, according to a May 2007 lawsuit. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt dismissed the suit in January 2008, ruling the incident was covered by the Industrial Insurance Act.

The Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit in a 2-1 ruling last month. Spokane lawyer Michael McFarland filed a petition for discretionary review to the state Supreme Court last week.

At issue in the legal rulings has not been the merits of one side’s claim versus the other’s, but whether Rothwell’s claims fall outside the bounds of the Industrial Insurance Act, which prohibits lawsuits based on industry injury or occupational disease.

“I can tell you that my clients strongly dispute many of the allegations contained in Ms. Rothwell’s Complaint, and my investigation into this matter supports my client’s assertions,” McFarland wrote in an email. “While I believe that the Supreme Court will accept review of this matter, and will thereafter reverse the Court of Appeals, I am also very confident that if forced to litigate this case at the trial court level, (former Superintendent) Michael Green and the District will ultimately prevail.”

McFarland continued, “All I will say at this time is that if and when the true facts come out, they will show that in the face of a tragic situation, Michael Green and Nine Mile Falls School District acted entirely appropriately and responsibly, taking into consideration the best interests and well-being of the students, staff and Nine Mile Falls School District community.”

Spokane lawyer William Powell represents Rothwell. Stevens County Sheriff’s Craig Thayer and three deputies were originally names as defendants in the suit but have since been dismissed.

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