Facts: Respondent Ernest Carter was convicted of robbery in the Superior Court for Pierce County. As Carter had previously been convicted of assault in California and of attempted murder in Oregon, he was sentenced to life imprisonment as a persistent offender. After unsuccessfully directly appealing his sentence, Carter filed an untimely personal restraint petition that asserted that his sentence is unlawful in light of the fact that his California assault conviction is not comparable to a Washington “strike” offense. The Washington Court of Appeals vacated Carter’s sentence and remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing, holding that Carter’s personal restraint petition is not time barred insofar as the “actual innocence” doctrine permits him to challenge the comparability of his prior convictions. The state of Washington appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Does the “actual innocence” doctrine, which creates an exception to procedural bars in cases where a fundamental miscarriage of justice would result if collateral relief is denied, permit Carter to challenge the comparability of his prior convictions?
Conclusion: Justice Fairhurst’s opinion for the Court reversed the Washington Court of Appeals, concluding that the “actual innocence” doctrine does not apply in cases where the petitioner is claiming a purely legal error rather than factual innocence of the charged crime or of an aggravating factor. Thus, as Carter is not claiming actual innocence of the robbery or of any of his prior convictions, his petition is time barred unless one or more of the exceptions to the time bar created by Washington Revised Code §10.73.100 applies.
Petitioner: State of Washington
(Counsel: Melody M. Crick)
Respondent: Ernest Carter
(Counsel: Jeffrey Erwin Ellis)
- Additional Authority
- Additional Authority in Support of Personal Restraint Petition
- Personal Restraint Petition
- Petition for Review
- Petitioner's Reply Regarding Reference Hearing Findings
- Petitioner's Supplement to Personal Restraint Petition
- Petitioner's Supplemental Memo Regarding Reference Hearing Findings
- Response to Personal Restraint Petition
- Statement of Additional Auth
- Supplemental Brief of Petitioner
- Supplemental Brief of Respondent
- Supplemental Memo of Respondent Following Reference Hearing
Argument: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 1:30pm
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, October 20th, 2011
Prevailing Party: State of Washington (Petitioner)
Court: Madsen2 Court (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.