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Skylee focuses her practice on general commercial litigation, with diverse experiences ranging from mass torts, products liability and class actions. She handles various phases of litigation including discovery, motion practice, alternative dispute resolution and trial. Since joining Stoel Rives, Skylee has been individually responsible for managing the document production and analysis in products liability/mass tort and class actions and for drafting dispositive motions and appellate-level briefing. She has also taken and defended depositions of fact witnesses, experts, and 30(b)(6) designees.

In State v. Andre Luis Franklin, five State Supreme Court justices reversed a defendant’s convictions after concluding the trial court erred in excluding evidence to further the defendant’s “other suspect” defense.  The defendant, Franklin, was in pseudo-relationships with two different women, Hibbler and Fuerte, and the women had a history of jealousy with one another.  Soon after Franklin loaned some money to Fuerte, Fuerte began receiving emails from an unknown email address threatening to post compromising pictures of her online.  These emails were purportedly from Franklin.
Continue Reading State v. Franklin – State Supreme Court Divided Over Discretion

In a unanimous decision, the Washington Supreme Court clarified Washington’s Criminal Court Rules by holding that it is within the trial court’s discretion to provide preliminary rulings on jury instructions during trial. The Court then affirmed Ronald Mendes’s second degree murder conviction after rejecting his argument that he was “compelled” to testify in his defense.
Continue Reading Discretion Prevails: Trial Courts May Rule on Jury Instructions When Asked…or Not

In a 5-4 decision, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld a Thurston County jury’s award of over $57 million to live-in individual care providers (“providers”). Eight of the nine justices agreed to overturn an additional $39 million in prejudgment interest the providers also received at trial. All of the justices agreed that the recipients of the providers’ care (“clients”) were not entitled to recover damages, though for different reasons.
Continue Reading State Supreme Court Upholds $57 Million Verdict for In-Home Care Providers

Under ER 404(b), evidence of prior bad acts is not admissible to show conformity with those acts.  In 2008, the Legislature carved out an exception to ER 404(b) by passing a bill that allowed evidence of prior sex crimes to be admitted in criminal sex cases.  But in 2012, the Washington Supreme Court held that this statute was unconstitutional.

Gower involves a bench trial that took place in 2009, after the Legislature’s ER 404(b) exception was in effect, but before it was held unconstitutional.  The State had charged Gower with a series of sex crimes relating to sexual contact with his minor step-daughter, SEH.  At trial, the State sought to admit the testimony of one of Gower’s other minor children, CM, and the trial court admitted CM’s testimony, stating that the evidence would have been inadmissible under ER 404(b), but was admissible under the statutory exception.  SEH also testified to her own experience at the hands of Gower.
Continue Reading State v. Gower: Anything is Reasonably Probable

In State v. Garcia, Jr., No. 88020-4, the State Supreme Court unanimously reversed the defendant’s first degree kidnapping and second-degree kidnapping convictions and remanded for a new trial of those convictions, but affirmed the defendant’s criminal trespass conviction.

The defendant, Phillip Garcia, Jr., believed he was involved in a car chase after hearing gun shots coming from other vehicles on a highway.  Garcia eventually abandoned his vehicle and ran to a gas station to seek help.  Upon learning the gas station was closed, Garcia broke into the gas station with a cinder block, but fled after hearing he triggered the station’s alarm.  Garcia then went to homes nearby, and ended up at the home where the victim was asleep.  Garcia entered the home through an unlocked door, then spoke with and remained with the victim for two hours before one of Garcia’s friends picked him up.

The State charged Garcia with first degree kidnapping based on his interactions with the victim, and first degree criminal trespass and burglary in the second degree for breaking into the gas station.  The State successfully excluded Garcia’s statements to the victim as hearsay, and also introduced a police report containing hearsay statements from Garcia’s previous burglary conviction.  A jury convicted Garcia of all three charges, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.  Garcia appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support the kidnapping charge and that the trial court’s above evidentiary rulings were erroneous.
Continue Reading State v. Garcia, Jr. – Not Enough Evidence for First Degree Kidnapping Conviction

In State v. Pena Fuentes, the State Supreme Court again condemned “the odious practice of eavesdropping on privileged communication between attorney and client” in criminal matters, as it had previously done in State v. Cory, 62 Wn.2d 371, 382 P.2d 1019 (1963).  Though the Cory court held that such misconduct is presumably prejudicial, in Pena Fuentes the court further held that the presumption is rebuttable if the State can prove the absence of prejudice beyond a reasonable doubt.
Continue Reading These Walls Shouldn’t Have Ears: State Supreme Court “Appalled” by the Need to Remind State that It May Not Eavesdrop on Private Conversations Between a Defendant and His/Her Counsel

In a 5-3 decision, the State Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment on the use of Washington’s recreational immunity statute (former RCW 4.24.210) in Camicia v. Howard S. Wright Constr. Co., No. 85583-8.

Plaintiff Susan Camicia was bicycling along the Interstate-90 trail, crossing over a portion of the trail located on Mercer Island, when she swerved to avoid the defendant construction company’s fence footing protruding onto the pathway.  Then Camicia immediately hit a wooden post on the trail, which the City of Mercer Island had placed there to prevent vehicles from using the trail, and was thrown from her bike.  Camicia suffered serious injuries and was paralyzed as a result of her fall.
Continue Reading Washington Supreme Court: Recreational Use Immunity is in the Eye of the Landowner

In State v. Johnson, a 5-4 majority of the State Supreme Court upheld Lewis County resident Stephen Johnson’s third-degree driving while license suspended (DWLS) charge for failing to pay a $260 traffic ticket because he arguably had the financial means to do so.


After Johnson’s driver’s license expired in 2001 he did not renew it.  In 2007, police stopped Johnson and cited him for driving without a valid license.  Following his appearance at a hearing to contest the infraction, the district court imposed a $260 fine, which Johnson did not pay, and his license was suspended as a result.  Lewis County deputies stopped Johnson again in 2008, this time arresting Johnson for third-degree DWLS.  At trial on the DWLS charge, the Lewis County District Court found Johnson guilty and imposed a fine and suspended jail sentence.

In a hearing to determine whether he could afford counsel, Johnson testified that he had no income, had not worked in 30 years, and received food stamps and energy assistance from the State.  He further testified, however, to owning a $300,000 home free of liens and obtaining a $3 million judgment in a tort suit (though Johnson stated that the defendant appeared judgment proof).  The district court determined that Johnson was not “indigent” for purposes of obtaining court-appointed counsel.
Continue Reading Fifty Shades of Poverty: State Supreme Court Holds There is No Such Thing as “Driving While Poor” If You Own Your House

Washington State Supreme Court reverses Division II in part and holds that failure to meet conditions to terminate a foreclosure sale and further appeal the trial court’s ruling constitutes a waiver of the right to challenge the foreclosure sale, but not other post-sale relief in Frizzell v. Murray, No. 87927-3.

Background and Analysis

Despite her relatively low income of $1600 a month, and despite a learning disability and dementia, Tamara Frizzell obtained from lenders a $100,000 loan secured by the $250,000 home she inherited from her late husband.  She had initially sought a $20,000 loan to pay bills, but the lenders, Barbara and Gregory Murray, convinced Frizzell that she could get a better interest rate on a $100,000 loan.  The Murrays explained that they would only loan money for business purposes, so Frizzell’s live-in friend convinced her that the two of them could launch a wheelchair and scooter business with the 40-50 wheelchairs and scooters he had stored on Frizzell’s property.  Without any business background, business plan, or any other indicia that a wheelchair/scooter business would work, Frizzell received the $100,000 loan, minus $12,000 that the Murrays retained for fees. 
Continue Reading State Supreme Court Curtails Post-Foreclosure Sale Invalidation, but Permits Other Relief

In Stewart Title Guaranty Co. v. Sterling Savings Bank, the State Supreme Court unanimously held that a law firm paid by a title insurer to represent its insured owed a duty of care only to the law firm’s client—the insured—such that the non-client title insurer could not maintain a malpractice action against the attorney.
Continue Reading Wash. S. Ct. Clarifies that Law Firm Paid By Title Insurer to Defend Insured Not Subject to Title Insurer’s Malpractice Claim

At its October 1, 2013 conference, the Washington Supreme granted review to four cases. We provide a summary of the issues presented in each case below.

State v. Owens
Supreme Court No. 88905-8
Court of Appeals No. 67867–1–I
PFR & Answer


Whether the Court of Appeals properly reversed a conviction for First Degree