EXPERIENCE THAT MATTERS FOR YOU

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Dedicated. Experienced. Engaged. Prepared to Serve.

“For ten years, I served you as a Spokane County Superior Court Commissioner Pro Tem, providing clear examples of experience you can rely upon to interpret laws and make decisions based in law and fact, in a just, timely, consistent and equitable manner.”

 

—D.C. Cronin

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Through comprehensive study and practice across a broad spectrum of complex legal areas, Dennis has prepared for judicial service. The complexity of cases before the bench requires such experience and preparation. Dennis’ demonstrated legal abilities and appellate record provide tangible examples of his legal acumen and confirmation of his persevering commitment and determination to have the law equally accessible and applied fairly to all. Dennis’ commitment to justice has resulted in published and non-published cases in the Washington Courts of Appeal the Eastern District of Washington and the Ninth Circuit since 1986.

However, the role of a judicial officer is not limited to the courtroom. Judicial leadership provides unique opportunities to address structural inequities and barriers within a system under immense strain. As a small business owner known for his work ethic and legal ability, Dennis earned his AV® Peer Rating while serving in professional and civic leadership positions, demonstrating the qualities necessary to collaboratively and transparently evaluate, develop and implement innovative, intersectional, strategic and cost effective objectives.

Challenging the status quo is not popular. Status quo results in your straight forward case becoming complex when the law and your rights are not first and foremost in all matters before the court. It’s time to hold the system accountable. It’s time to visibly confront the barriers affecting administrative procedures, due process in the application and interpretation of law, with dignity and respect for each individual.

You have the right to expect the person making decisions about you and your family will make those decisions based in the rule of law and enforce the rules the same for each person seeking justice in the courtroom. You have the right to be confident your judicial officer has the legal and professional experience to put you and your family first when faced with complex issues.

Experience in the day to day workings of a system responsible for legal decisions affecting you and your family does make a difference. The majority of cases filed in Spokane County Superior Court involve your families and don’t fit into cookie cutter resolutions.

Family law cases present with complexity due to disagreements about real and personal property, consumer debt, pre-marital funds, inheritances, business valuations, investments, military deployments and benefits, QDROs and other retirement related issues, tax liabilities and every now and then, farms or ranches which have been handed down generation to generation.

Other cases involve step-parents, de facto parents, adoption, paternity, criminal investigation, discovery issues, mental health, drugs and/or alcohol, domestic violence, CPS investigations and interventions, juvenile law, guardianship and elder issues, re-entry and restorative justice, parental rights, children’s rights, child support with potentially significant ramifications regarding state and federal supplementary funds, healthcare coverage, bankruptcy, members of the LGBTQA+ community, and previously self-represented persons.

No matter what legal issues face you and your family, you have the right to expect equitable access to the justice system, and the relevant legal experience to efficiently render just decisions based upon the rule of law.

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APPELLATE CASES PUBLISHED AND NON-PUBLISHED

For more than 30 years Dennis has advocated for clients with issues encompassing a wide range of facets of the law, including most sections of RCWs 4, 7, 9.9A, 11, 13, 26, and Administrative Law, Civil Rights, Criminal Law, Education Law, Environmental Law, Federal & State Labor Law, Federal Tort Claims Act, Martial Law, Mental Health, Poverty Law and Real Property. Below are summaries of Published and Non-Published Opinions, from 1986 through 2017, reflecting some of his appellate practice.

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Federal District and Ninth Circuit

Civil and Voting Rights

Farrakhan v. Locke, 987 F. Supp. 1304 (E.D. Wa. 1997), aff’d in part, reversed in part, and remanded, 338 F. 3d 1009 (9th Cir. 2003) and rehearing denied and en banc denied by 359 F. 3d 1116 (9th Cir. 2004), cert. denied and motion granted, 543 U.S. 984, 125 S. Ct. 477, 160 L. Ed. 2d (2004), summary judgment granted, Farrakhan v. Gregoire, LEXIS 45987 (E.D. 2006), rev’d, 590 F. 3d 989 (2010) and vacated, review and rehearing en banc granted by 603 F. 3d 1072 (2010) and aff’d by 623 F. 3d 990 (2010).

Plaintiffs challenged the validity of felon disenfranchisement alleging minorities were disproportionately prosecuted and sentenced resulting in disproportionate representation and vote denial and/or vote dilution on the basis of race, in violation of the Voting Rights Act and Constitution. This case received national attention and was cited in other circuit opinions, articles, and local and national news media (print and audio). See 338 F.3d 1009 (2003)

Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Alexiou v. United States (In re Subpoena to Testify Before the Grand Jury), 39 F.3d 973 (9th Cir. Wn. 1994), cert. denied, 115 S. Ct. 1825 (1993).

Attorney allegedly deposited a counterfeit $100.00 bill received from a client to his law firm bank account. Upon demand to reveal the client’s identity, the attorney resisted on ethical grounds. The U.S. Attorney issued a grand jury subpoena and the Federal Court was asked the court to quash the subpoena. Held an appeal may be taken from a motion to quash under the circumstances presented, but client identity is not protected.

Criminal

United States v. Fifer, 27 Fed. Appx. 892, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 27099 (9th Cir. Mont. 2001)        

Defendant appealed indictment, sentencing and failure to provide special verdict form. Affirmed.

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Washington State Supreme Court

Election Campaigns and Political Law

Becker v. County of Pierce, 126 Wn. 2d 11, 890 P. 2d 1055 (1995)

A candidate defeated in a primary election for state auditor sought a declaratory judgment invalidating the primary and general elections.  Less than three weeks after oral argument in this case, committee hearings were conducted in both houses of the Washington State Legislature to amend RCW 29.62.030. The legislature changed the law while the case was pending, rendering the case moot.

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Washington State Court of Appeals

Criminal

State v. Rehn, 117 Wn. App. 142, 69 P.3d 379 (Div. III 2003)

Passenger made allegedly incriminating responses to questions asked without Miranda warnings. Trial court denied motion to suppress. Affirmed.

State v. Ford, 2000 Wn. App. LEXIS 2066 (Wn. Ct. App. Oct. 24, 2000)

Appeal from criminal conviction for second degree murder. Affirmed.

State v. Johnson, 96 Wn. App. 813, 981 P.2d 25 (Div. III 1999)

Trial court entered an order setting restitution more than 180 days after sentencing. Reversed.

State v. Lloyd, 1998 Wn. App. LEXIS 289 (Wn. Ct. App. Feb. 26, 1998)

Defendants convicted of first degree kidnapping. One defendant convicted of second degree robbery. Affirmed.

State v. Jones, 82 Wn. App. 871, 920 P.2d 225 (Div. III 1996)

Then a case of first impression in Division III involving the defense of multiple personalities (dissociative disorder). The trial court acquitted Ms. Jones after a bench trial, but convicted Ms. Jones’ alternate personality, thus requiring Ms. Jones’ incarceration. Affirmed.

Domestic Relations

In re: Marriage of Aldrich, 2017 Wash. App. LEXIS 1097 (Division III) (Unpublished)

Successful appeal of denial of petition for modification of spousal maintenance and attorney fees.

In re: Marriage of Lehman, 2017 Wash App. LEXIS 589 (Division III) (Unpublished)

Affirmed trial court in appeal of child support decision and reversed and remanded to trial court in second appeal of trial for entry of clearer findings of fact.

In re: Adoption of C.W.S., 2016 Wash. App. LEXIS 2764 (Div. III) (Unpublished)

Successful defense of an appeal by natural parent of trial court termination of her parental rights in a step parent adoption claiming use of the adoption statutes to terminate her rights violated equal protection because the adoption statutes do not require proof the State offered necessary services to her whereas the parental termination statutes in a dependency action demand such proof. Appeal denied. Discretionary Review Denied.

In re: Moore and Brown, Division III Case No: 32307-2-111 (Aug 31, 2016)(Div. III) (Unpublished)

Successful defense of appeal of Judgment and Order Establishing Parenting Plan and Child Support and parallel appeal of CR 11 sanctions against trial counsel. After protracted proceedings in the Court of Appeals and review by the Supreme Court, the appeal was ultimately dismissed.

In re: Parentage of Ruff, 168 Wn. App. 109, 275 P.3d 1175 (Div. III 2012) Reversed and remanded.

The first published case in Washington to explain Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) emergency jurisdiction process to transfer jurisdiction from one court to the other, and the consequences of a failure to properly do so. This case was also the first Washington case to address UCCJEA attorney fees in a jurisdictional dispute.

In re: Marriage of Vigil, 162 Wn. App. 242, 255 P.3d 850 (Div. III 2011), reconsideration denied by In re Marriage of Vigil, 2011 Wn. App. LEXIS 1842 (July 26, 2011), review denied by In re Marriage of Vigil, 173 Wn. 2d 1005, 268 P.3d 943, 2011 Wn. LEXIS 928 (Nov. 21, 2011)

Trial court affirmed in bifurcation of dissolution proceedings in extraordinary circumstances after bankruptcy was filed on the eve of trial acknowledging the trial court did not have jurisdiction to dispose of the parties’ property at the time set for trial.

In re: Marriage of Kranches, 2011 Wn. App. LEXIS 1926 (Div. III) (Unpublished)

Successful argument on an issue involving first case clearly articulating and defining the standard for a determination of “unsound mind” in a CR 60(b) proceeding.

In re: Custody of A.C., 165 Wn.2d 568, 200 P.3d 689 (2009)

(Assisting counsel on briefing, research, and preparation for argument).

Finding the trial court erred in exercising jurisdiction and violated the goals and provisions of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, reversing the trial court and Court of Appeals custody decision.

In re: Marriage of Dodd, 120 Wn. App. 638, 86 P.3d 801 (2004)

Whether the trial court on revision properly imputed median wage income to father in a child support modification action. Affirmed the trial court, after the trial court revised the ruling of the court commissioner in favor of father.

In re: Marriage of Wilson, 2000 Wn. App. LEXIS 2157 (Div. III) (Unpublished)

Trial court valued wife’s retirement based on a statement balance one month before separation and the home value based on appraisal. The trial court also considered husband’s ability to make repairs in reaching its valuation and distribution. Affirmed.

In re: Marriage of Barlow, 1997 Wn. App. LEXIS 306 (Div. III Unpublished)

Father’s child support obligation was temporarily reduced based on a finding of substantial change of circumstances after father’s income decreased following injuries incurred in an auto accident where father was allegedly intoxicated. Affirmed.

In re: Geestman, 1997 Wn. App. LEXIS 1194 (Div III)(Unpublished)

Issue as to the parties’ date of separation (defunct marriage) and validity of a community property agreement.  Affirmed.

In re: Marriage of Luckey, 73 Wn. App. 201, 868 P.2d 189 (Div. III, 1994)

Holding the trial court did not abuse its discretion in valuing professional goodwill and in fixing visitation rights and spousal maintenance and that the appealing spouse was not entitled to attorney fees for her appeal and clarifying profile evidence is not admissible in a dissolution action and re-enunciating the often heard phrase “the purpose of spousal maintenance is to support a spouse, usually the wife, until she is able to earn her own living or otherwise become self-supporting.” Affirmed.

Employment and Labor

Spokane v. AFSCME, 76 Wn. App. 765, 888 P.2d 735 (Div. III 1995)

A case involving the “right to strike” and issuance of a writ of prohibition preventing Spokane County employees from commencing a work stoppage in a wage dispute. The trial court denied the writ. Division III held employees were not acting in excess of jurisdiction by threatening to strike, thus there was no entitlement to writ of prohibition.

Juvenile/Parental Rights

Yuille v. State, 111 Wn. App. 527, 45 P.3d 1107 (Div. III 2002)

Parents sought summary judgment for conduct allegedly resulting in the false accusation of factitious disorder (Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy) and State’s removal of children.  Affirmed with dissenting opinion for reversal.

In re: Welfare of Kevin L., 45 Wn. App. 489, 726 P.2d 479 (Div. III 1986)

Reversing a termination of parental rights and establishing a private person can file a dependency, the importance of the social file, and the provision of services. This case also delineated the parens patriae powers of the State. Reversed trial court’s termination.

Litigation

Spratt v. Crusader Ins. Co., 109 Wn. App. 944, 37 P.3d 1269 (Div. III 2002), review denied by 147 Wn. 2d 1003, 53 P.3d 1007, 2002 Wn. LEXIS 580

Plaintiff and pub owner each sought a declaration the maximum liability coverage under a liquor liability policy was a total of $2 million.  The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment. Reversed.

Estate of Lee v. City of Spokane, 101 Wn. App. 158, 2 P.3d 979 (Div. III 2000), review denied by 142 Wn.2d 1014, 16 P.3d 1263, 2000 Wn. LEXIS 842.

A wrongful death and excessive use of force action brought by decedent’s relatives arising from a fatal shooting by police officers and competing motions for summary judgment. Affirmed in part. Reversed in part.

Anderson v. Taylor, 1999 Wn. App. LEXIS 2189 (Wn. Ct. App. Dec. 28, 1999)

Anti-harassment petition brought by town council member against town marshal. Trial court found petitioner did not carry her burden of proof on some events and others were privileged. Affirmed.

Long v. Harrold, 76 Wn. App. 317, 884 P.2d 934 (Div. III 1994)

A case explaining the difference between voidable judgments and void judgments involving a motion to vacate. Reversed.

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PRACTICE TIPS AND CASE REVIEW BLOGS

Over the years, Dennis has provided Practice Tips, distributed to attorney, staff and judicial members of the Spokane County Bar Association, to foster discussion and promote rigorous study of the rule of law, and the policies and procedures designed to administer those laws.

2017

  • The Justices Weigh in on LGBTAQ + Bias
  • Temporary Orders and the Appearance of Arbitrary Preference
  • 50/50 Placement – The Case of No Presumption for Relocation
  • Fraught with Danger: Take your time and seek utmost clarity with Pensions and Retirements!
  • Hatred and Contempt
  • Alternate Judicial Resolution Experiments

2016

  • When is Enough Too Much?
  • Children’s Interests within Non-Parental Cases in Division III
  • Best Interests and Appellate Burdens
  • The Old Forms vs. The New Forms
  • Email and the New Ethical Rules
  • Hello, Is Anyone Home – Vicariously Maybe?
  • Hey, Just Text Me
  • Dastardly Form Compliance
  • Recently Published and Unpublished Opinions in Family Law

2015

  • Local Rules and Domestic Case Scheduling Orders
  • Memories: Smokin’ in the Jury Room and Other Local Rules and Legends
  • Family Law Discovery, Contempt and Presentation of Orders
  • The CPS Family Assessment Response Pilot Project
  • The Doctrine of State Action Anti-trust Immunity
  • Spousal Maintenance, Voc Rehab and Other Considerations
  • Some Perils of Scribbled and Rushed CR2A Agreements

2014

  • Child Tax Exemptions and Insurance: What You Don’t Know You Didn’t Know
  • Rules: A Humpty Dumpty Perspective
  • Evidence: The Doctrine
  • Discovery Protective Orders for Victims of Domestic Violence and Basic Reasons for Discovery before Mediation
  • Recent Case Law and Legislative Round Up

2013

  • A Review of Critiques of the Collaborative Law Process
  • Case Law Round Up
  • Analysis of Recent Opinions of Note

2012

  • Appellate Court Opinion Review
  • Summer Decisions from the Appellate Courts and The Input of Children in Divorce
  • Presumptions and Burdens in Family Law Relocations
  • The Bueckling Decision and Legislative Restraints on the Exercise of Jurisdiction
  • How to Properly Withdraw from Active Representation
  • Recent Case Law Review
  • Some Pleading Errors That Are Correctable and Not Necessarily Lethal to Your Case

2011

  • Analysis of the Interplay of I-864 Affidavit for Support of an Immigrant Spouse in a Dissolution Action
  • Some Thoughts Regarding Tax Ramifications of Home Foreclosure in Dissolution Proceedings
  • Innocent Spouse Relief Under IRS Code and Separation Contracts
  • Parental Alienation Syndrome
  • Case Law Review Around the Nation and at Home: Literature and Articles
  • A Review and Analysis of De Facto Parentage and Non Parental Custody in Washington
  • The Ethical Challenges of Using Email in a Family Law Practice
  • Admitting Discovery Materials and Electronic Communications Into Evidence and Other Opinions of Note

2010

  • Pitfalls to Avoid with Qualified Domestic Relations Orders
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