A superior court judge is violating the Supreme Court’s order restricting the use of bench warrants for FTA at arraignment because, she believes, there is a conflict between the Court’s emergency order and CrR 2.2(g). That rule requires that a case be dismissed without prejudice after 90 days if a defendant does not appear for an arraignment or if a warrant has not issued. This judge is “authorizing” warrants and asking that they be “issued” by the State 89 days after filing of the charges. The judge has noted that if the court were to fail to issue a warrant and take no action, the end result would be a wave of dismissals. I’ve spoken with this judge and believe she is genuinely concerned about warrants issuing during COVID; she is hopeful that by authorizing and delaying the issuance of the warrant it will encourage public defenders to attempt to contact unrepresented defendants in order to get them screened, counsel appointed, and an arraignments scheduled before the expiration of the 90 days.
Although this issue arose in Snohomish Co Superior Court, suspending CrR 2.2 will have state-wide implications. How would this affect you in your particular jurisdiction? Some are reluctant to suggest suspending CrR 2.2, because there’s a legal possibility of dismissal which is good for our clients. That said, will any cases actually get dismissed? It seems courts will either issue warrants or resummons defendants to a later court date after the warrant provision of the Supreme Court emergency order expires. Some defenders are hopeful that prosecutors could file cases without a deadline for arraignment or dismissal upon FTA; this could assist defenders in managing caseloads and trial schedules.
What are the pros and cons of suspending CrR 2.2 along with other changes to the rules due to the health and safety emergency that is the COVID 19 pandemic?