Case Note: In re Morris, 34 Wn. App. 23, 658 P.2d 1279 (1983).

SENTENCING: INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL DEFENDANT IS ENTITLED AT SENTENCING TO COUNSEL FAMILIAR WITH THE DEFENDANT’S CONVICTION. In re Morris, 34 Wn. App. 23, 658 P.2d 1279 (1983).

In In re Morris, the Washington Court of Appeals, Division III, held that defendant Billy Gene Morris was entitled to counsel familiar with his case at the sentencing hearing. The Morris decision attempts to safeguard a defendant’s right to due process at sentencing by clarifying defense counsel’s role in providing effective legal assistance at the criminal sentencing hearing. Lack of familiarity as an element of ineffective assistance suggests the potential for prejudice to a defendant. In harmony with previous-decisions emphasizing the “importance of sentencing”, Chief Judge Roe highlighted the court’s special concern for preserving “justice”, “expediency”, and a “completely fair sentencing” procedure.’

Morris was decided under a sentencing scheme which pro- motes rehabilitation rather than uniformity and equality, which is the objective sought by the Washington legislature in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981, effective July 1, 1984. Washington’s sentencing scheme will henceforth focus on the intent to “ensure that punishment for a criminal offense is proportionate to the seriousness of the offense.” The retributive goals of the Act are no less concerned with the Morris court’s same regard for fairness, justice, and expediency in sentencing and counsel’s role in ensuring that these goals are met. Rather, to avoid the possibility that sentencing under the reform will become a rubber stamp process and to avail the defendant of the Act’s provisions for sentencing outside of the established ranges,” defense counsel’s impact upon the ultimate decision making process is greater. Morris will not be out-dated by the sentencing reform, rather, counsel’s familiarity with his client’s case will continue to shape and inject into the sentencing process the assurances of fairness, humanity, and rehabilitative goals.”

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Constance J. Miller, Case Note: In re Morris, 34 Wn. App. 23, 658 P.2d 1279 (1983), 19 Gonz. L. Rev. 597 (1983).

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