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Washington State Prisoner Properly Denied Visitation with Daughters

by David M. Reutter

In an unpublished opinion, the Washington Court of Appeals held on December 18, 2018 that a prisoner was properly denied visitation with his daughters, who were victims of his crimes.

John M. Pino pleaded guilty in 2009 to three counts of first-degree child molestation. His 150-month-to-life sentence included provisions that barred him from contacting his three minor daughters, who also were covered by three Sexual Assault Protection Orders (SAPOs) that prohibited all contact.

In 2016, the SAPOs were amended to allow visitation while Pino was incarcerated.

The daughters, now adults, sought permission to visit their father. Officials with the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) denied their applications and appeals related to the denials.

Pino filed a personal restraint petition, alleging the denial of visitation with his daughters was a violation of due process, as well as arbitrary and capricious. The appellate court began its review by rejecting the DOC’s contention that 42 U.S.C. § 1983 was an adequate remedy to address Pino’s claims, finding that “a § 1983 action would not address any violation of Pino’s rights under the Washington Constitution.”

Moving to the due process claim, the Court of Appeals held that “Pino does not have a liberty interest in visitation with his daughters.” To find that the denial of visits was arbitrary and capricious, Pino had to prove the DOC’s action was “willful, unreasoning, and disregards the facts or circumstances.” That required showing the “action is wholly unsupportable.”

The appellate court noted that Pino’s judgment and sentence restrict him from contact with his daughters, despite the amended SAPOs.

Additionally, “DOC policies still prohibited visitation of an offender’s domestic violence victims regardless of any no contact orders.” While the SAPOs allowed in-person visits, DOC policy required permission from the “Superintendent” and the “appropriate Deputy Director/designee.” No such approval was in the record.

Accordingly, Pino’s personal restraint petition was denied. See: In the Matter of the Personal Restraint Petition of John Milton Pino, Washington State Court of Appeals, Case No. 50876-1-II (Wash. Ct. App. 2018); 2018 Wash. App. LEXIS 2862. 

Related legal case

In the Matter of the Personal Restraint Petition of John Milton Pino