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Washington Prisoner's Judgment Garnished to Pay Conviction Related Expenses

In an unpublished opinion, the State of Washington Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s order of garnishment that eradicates a prisoner’s award for violations of the state’s Public Records Act (PRA).

Previously, prisoner Alan Parmelee obtained a $19,170 judgment against the Washington State Department of Corrections (WDOC) for its delay and refusal to provide records requested by Parmelee.

The State of Washington initiated a garnishment action against Parmelee and WDOC to satisfy the restitution for his arson conviction, recoupment of attorney fees paid by King County, and court costs owed to the King County Superior Court Clerk’s office. The state failed to respond to Parmelee’s alleged exemptions from garnishment, and it voluntarily dismissed the action.

Another application for garnishment was filed in January 2008 by King County and its Court Clerk’s office. This time, Parmelee committed a procedural error by serving his claim of exemptions on the criminal division of the King County Prosecutor’s office, instead of the civil division, which was the address shown on the writ.

The claim was not delivered to the civil division until more than 28 days later. The King County Superior Court denied the claim of exemptions, finding it was both untimely and meritless. A motion to reconsider was denied, and an appeal was dismissed based upon Parmelee’s failure to comply with a commissioner’s ruling that required him to file a motion for discretionary review within 45 days.

The Appellate court said it would not consider the arguments that the judgment that garnished $19,170 from Parmelee because he failed to appeal from or assign error denying his claim of exemptions. Even if it did consider Parmelee’s exemptions to be timely, the Court said he provided no argument or authority to support his claim that error occurred in finding his claim baseless.

The Court also disagreed with Parmelee’s argument that “the State waived its right to collect” because it dismissed the first garnishment writ beyond the statutory time to reply to his claim of exemptions. It held Parmelee waived this argument by failing to appeal or assign error to the order denying the claim of exemptions. It further held that his arguments are without merit on the claim, for the two cases he cited did not support his arguments.

Finally, the court held the Superior Court’s order was entered timely. It denied the state’s request to award it attorney fees and costs on the current appeal. See: State of Washington v. Parmelee, 157 Wash.App. 1035 (Wash.App. Div. 1 2010); 2010 WL 3214554.

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Related legal cases

State of Washington v. Parmelee

State of Washington v. Parmelee