Facts: Respondent Terrance Irby was convicted of first degree burglary and first degree murder in the Superior Court for Skagit County and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Irby subsequently appealed his conviction, asserting that the trial court had violated his right under the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I §22 of the Washington State Constitution to a public trial by conducting part of the jury selection process without his participation via an email exchange with attorneys for the prosecution and attorneys for the defense. The Washington Court of Appeals vacated Irby’s conviction, ruling that the trial court denied Irby his constitutional right to be present at and contribute to jury selection. The state of Washington appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Did the trial court deny Irby his right to a public trial by conducting part of the jury selection process without Irby’s participation?
If so, was the error harmless?
Conclusion: Justice Alexander’s opinion for the Court affirmed the Washington Court of Appeals, holding that Irby’s right to be present at and contribute to jury selection had been denied by the trial court insofar as the email exchange resulted in jurors being dismissed for cause without Irby’s participation. The Court also concluded that the error was not harmless given that the jurors dismissed could potentially have been empaneled had Irby been allowed to participate.
Petitioner: State of Washington
(Counsel: Erik Pedersen)
Respondent: Terrance Irby
(Counsel: David Bruce Koch)
Argument: Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:00am
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Prevailing Party: Terrance Irby (Respondent)
Court: Madsen1 Court (2010-2011)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.