Senate passes Padden measures aimed at addressing recent Supreme Court decisions

Bills would help permit pretrial drug and alcohol monitoring and give deceased victims of violent crimes a voice in sentencing hearings

On Wednesday the Senate passed two measures sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, aimed at improving public safety and increasing justice for crime victims. Both bills were introduced to address recent Washington State Supreme Court decisions.

“Sometimes the court gets it right and sometimes it gets it wrong, but in either case there are often real-world consequences that need to be addressed,” said Padden, who chairs the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

“These two bills together will help make our judicial system more just and more effective at protecting the people of this state. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to move with all deliberate speed to take up these important measures.”

Senate Bill 6099, also known as the Victims’ Voice Act, is in response to a controversial ruling by the Supreme Court in April that a detective’s testimony on behalf of an 80-year-old murder victim, urging the court to reject a plea agreement and give her killer a harsher sentence, violated the defendant’s due-process rights.

Under the VVA, which passed the Senate unanimously, if a crime victim is deceased and has no estate or surviving family or any other representative, a prosecuting attorney may appoint an investigative law-enforcement officer or community victims advocate to serve as a representative of the victim during the sentencing hearing. The appointed representative of the victim would be permitted to make a sentencing recommendation that is different from that provided in a plea agreement.

Senate Bill 6134 would clarify that a $150 limitation on costs for pretrial supervision does not apply to those for pretrial electronic alcohol and drug monitoring. The bill is in response to the decision in Washington v. Hardtke. In that case, the Supreme Court found that the costs for an electronic alcohol-monitoring bracelet fit under the statutory meaning of “pretrial supervision.”

“The consequences of the Supreme Court decision are being felt right now at the court level; courts are already changing their policies,” warned Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “The practical effect of that decision is that courts can no longer impose reasonable, pretrial supervision, intended to protect victims and the public at-large. This bill fixes that problem.”

SB 6134 passed the Senate 41-3 and has the support of both the Association of Washington Cities and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.