Criminal Law: Personal Restraint Petitions

In In re Hews the Washington Supreme Court held that a petitioner who presents a prima facie case of actual and substantial constitutional prejudice may collaterally attack his conviction for the first time in a personal restraint petition. The court’s decision in Hews is the first application of the test formulated in In re Hagler’ that allows the courts to review petitions presenting unappealed constitutional issues. Hews consolidated two personal restraint petitions brought pursuant to Washington Court Rule of Appellate Procedure (RAP) 16.4(c)(2). Petitioners lain Christopher Hews and Samuel Pietro Evans claimed that their respective guilty pleas were not made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily and thus violated the standards necessary for a valid guilty plea. Neither of the convictions were ever appealed; rather, petitioners sought to collaterally attack the constitutional sufficiency of their pleas by way of a personal restraint petition.” Although Hagler was decided only six months prior to Hews, the petitioners’ actions seem to have been prompted by recent cases in which the courts inconsistently endeavored to strike a balance between the need for judicial finality and the preservation of legitimate personal restraint petitions.

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Matthew W. Granger, Criminal Law: Personal Restraint Petitions, 19 Gonz. L. Rev. 185 (1983).

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