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State Appellate Costs Improper on Washington PRP Dismissal

State Appellate Costs Improper on Washington PRP Dismissal

by Mark Wilson

On November 14, 2013, the en banc Washington Supreme Court held that the court’s clerk had erred in awarding the state a $200 statutory attorney fee against a prisoner whose personal restraint petition (PRP) was dismissed.

Washington prisoner Derek E. Gronquist lost early release credits as a sanction for assaulting a guard. He filed a PRP with the state Supreme Court, challenging the disciplinary action.

After the court’s commissioner dismissed the petition, the clerk “awarded the State costs consisting of statutory attorney fees in the amount of $200.” Gronquist moved to modify both rulings.

The Washington Supreme Court denied the motion to modify the commissioner’s ruling, but modified the clerk’s fee ruling. Pursuant to RCW 10.73.160(2), “appellate costs awardable to the State ‘are limited to expenses specifically incurred by the state in prosecuting or defending an appeal or collateral attack from a criminal conviction or sentence.’”

The Court found that Gronquist’s “challenge to the department’s administrative disciplinary action is not an appeal from or a collateral attack on a criminal conviction or sentence.” Therefore, the $200 attorney fee award fell “outside the plain statutory limitation on appellate costs allowed to the State,”and was vacated.See: In re PRP of Gronquist, 179 Wn.2d 120, 312 P.3d 648 (Wash. 2013).


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Related legal case

In re PRP of Gronquist