February News!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

 Case News, Staff News, & DREAM News


Case News:


A state PRP proceeding is final for the purposes of statutory tolling of the AEDPA statute of limitations when the certificate of finality is issued, not the decision denying a motion to modify or the decision denying review. This holding contradicts almost all federal court holdings on this subject in Washington.

Thanks to the jailhouse lawyer who helped with our client’s federal habeas petition and appeal to the Ninth Circuit, the Ninth Circuit panel that identified this issue, and everyone who helped with this briefing and moot. Congrats to Seattle AFD Ann Wagner!


Over the last twenty years, the district court has been appointing the Federal Defender’s Office to habeas corpus petitions on behalf of noncitizens who are subject to unconstitutional prolonged detention. That struggle reached its apex in 2001, when former Seattle AFD Jay Stansell and current Seattle AFD Jennifer Wellman, assisted by Seattle paralegal Donna Maxwell, represented Kim Ho Ma before the United States Supreme Court, winning the right to file habeas petitions seeking the release of people who have been ordered deported but remain detained.

That remarkable legacy is now approaching its third decade, and continues to win freedom for our clients. In recent months, the Federal Defender’s office won two habeas cases that came to us in unusual postures. In both cases, the petitioners were still pursuing immigration relief, and in both cases, the petitions raised complicated issues about what statutory and constitutional rights the petitioners actually had. The resulting opinions broke new ground.

We’ve also had tremendous success getting people released from detention without having to wait for a judge’s ruling. In recent months, after being appointed by the Court, and after filing petitions, ICE released detainees from Iran, Pakistan, and Laos. Going back to last year, the Federal Defender’s office also obtained release for people from India, Cuba, and the Ukraine.

Thank you to Seattle paralegals Donna Maxwell and Charlotte Ponikvar, Seattle AFDs Corey Endo, Jay Stansell and all others that continue this important work.


Staff News:

Tacoma AFD Heather Carroll travelled to Olympia to testify with other public defenders before the House Public Safety Committee in favor of House Bill 2231 (currently Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2231). The bill would make most current state bail jumps misdemeanor offenses.  As currently amended, it would limit the state offense of bail jump to those charged with a violent or sex offense who failed to quash within 30 days of issuance of the warrant. All other failures to appear would be misdemeanors.  

The bill made it out of the House, and is before the Senate the week of 2/24. Removing the threat of felony bail jump as a means to extract guilty pleas would be huge step forward in Washington State. Thanks to the bill sponsor Representative Pellicciotti and the members of the defense community who advocated for the bill!


Tacoma Senior Litigator Colin Fieman was asked to attend and present at the Capital Case Defense Seminar, held every February in San Diego, California. Fieman presented on ‘Digital Investigative Tools & Discovery.’


Seattle AFD Mohammad Hamoudi was asked to attend and present at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) training, held in San Diego, California. Hamoudi presented on peer-to-peer cases involving fourth amendment issues.



In February, two DREAM court participants successfully completed the program. Although their paths were different, they crossed at the end -- healthy, happy women, supported by friends and family and filled with gratitude. One woman began 19 months ago. She had pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud and her plea agreement included a joint agreement to recommend 20 months of custody. The other began just twelve months ago. She had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, with a five-year mandatory minimum sentence and an advisory guideline range more than twice that. Charges against both were dismissed at the hearing in February. Congrats to our new graduates and a heartfelt thank you to all who work tirelessly to make the DREAM program successful!

Archive Date: 
February, 2020