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State Awarded Statutory Attorney Fees, Costs for Dismissed Washington PRPs

The Washington State Court of Appeals has held that the state is entitled to statutory attorney fees following the dismissal of a personal restraint petition (PRP).

After pleading guilty to witness tampering and burglary, Gregory Scott Bailey filed a PRP challenging the voluntariness of his plea. The petition was dismissed on October 7, 2010 and five days later the state filed a cost bill, seeking statutory attorney fees of $200 plus $206 for preparation of the 103-page response brief – at $2.00 per page – for a total of $406. On November 1, 2010, Bailey objected to the cost bill.

The Court of Appeals refused to dismiss Bailey’s objection as untimely. Any purported untimeliness was waived because “the State’s entitlement to statutory attorney fees in the costs for dismissed PRPs is an issue of first impression,” and given “the number of PRPs the court considers each year, a decision on the merits would serve the ends of justice.”

Washington law establishes the statutory attorney fee as $200 for judgments entered by the Court of Appeals. Bailey argued, however, that RCW 10.73.160(2) prohibits such fees because attorney fees are “expenditures to maintain and operate government agencies.”

The appellate court agreed that “RCW 10.73.160(2) should ... be understood to disallow inclusion of prosecuting attorney salaries in the costs imposed on an unsuccessful personal restraint petitioner. Such costs are public expenditures made irrespective of specific violations of the law.”

The Court of Appeals determined, however, that “statutory attorney fees do not represent prosecuting attorney salaries that are paid irrespective of a particular case and are not intended to recoup ‘expenditures to maintain and operate government agencies.’”
Therefore, such fees are not prohibited by RCW 10.73.160(2), and the appellate court concluded that “the State is entitled to statutory attorney fees in its award of costs under RAP 14.3(a).”

The Court of Appeals also rejected Bailey’s argument that $2.00 per page was excessive, finding that “under RAP 14.3(b), the amount awarded per page is fixed by the Supreme Court” at $2.00 per page. See: In the Matter of the Amount Per Page for Original Documents, No. 25700-B-367 (Wash. June 16, 1999).

The appellate court further rejected Bailey’s argument that the state’s 103-page response brief was unreasonably lengthy. The court found that “the State’s response was not excessively long. RAP 10.4(b). The State is entitled to costs of $2.00 per page for 103 pages,” plus the $200 statutory attorney fee. See: In re PRP of Gregory Scott Bailey, 162 Wash.App. 215, 252 P.3d 924 (Wash.App. Div.3 2011).

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Related legal case

In re PRP of Gregory Scott Bailey