Zuanich Law Family Law Newsletter
Episode #8: The Contest Episode
September 2, 2021
Like my child, the Zuanich Law Family Law Newsletter took a summer recess—partially due to laziness, partially due to military duty, partially due to non-laziness, and partially due to laziness.
But like the changing of the season, the coming of football season, and the exciting march towards original Hallmark Christmas movies, nothing will stand in the way of this Newsletter and my journey to bring joy and humor and useful(less) legal knowledge to the lawyers of this great state.
And so we begin the Fall Season with a … CONTEST.
For my criminal law subscribers, my contests are well-known and notorious . The rules are simple—or are they?
The three highlighted cases in this week’s Episode share an important, unmistakable, unequivocal, irresistible THEME. Your job: Tell me the theme.
The first FIVE SUBSCRIBERS to correctly identify the theme and notify me through proper service of process (certified mail, return receipt requested, with five multi-colored stamps … or maybe just text or email) WIN A PRIZE.
What is the prize, you say? Great question…Your very own episode…What’s that, you say?
At some future point, one of the winners (randomly chosen) will be interviewed as part of an upcoming Newsletter. And your most interesting personality traits (like your favorite Marvels superhero or your favorite rule of evidence) will be broadcast to the world. Of course, you can refuse this esteemed honor and decline to participate, but I mean… why would you? (Seriously, why would you?)
Any questions? No, good. Let’s begin.
Marriage of Van Wicklen
COA, Division 1
July 26, 2021
Facts: Wife files for dissolution. Tries to serve Husband but no luck. Court allows service by mail, and no response. Default judgment, and then bad news follows bad news follows bad news for Husband. Until he decides to file an answer, responding to the allegations, and asking for a trial … but the trial court slaps him down and re-affirms default and denies his motion to vacate. Husband appeals.
Holding: Affirmed. Husband waived any challenge to proper service and personal jurisdiction by requesting “affirmative relief” in his response to Wife’s petition (i.e. division of property, no spousal maintenance, blah blah blah). You must either plead lack of personal jurisdiction in the answer (didn’t happen) or file a pretrial motion to dismiss (didn’t happen). Don’t do either, and you’re SOL. In this case, Husband didn’t formally raise lack of service until his reply brief in his motion to vacate the default—i.e. way way way way too late.
Takeaway point: Never waive any CR 12 type defenses in your answer unless you are 5 billion percent positive you do not plan on challenging them at some point.
Berenji v. Alcoba
COA Division 1
August 2, 2021
Facts: Berenji did not get a teaching position at the UW to which he applied and got somewhat pissed and started harassing / annoying / bothering / scaring one of the Department employees. At some point, Berenji sent (accidentally or intentionally) a nude picture of himself to her personal email (how he found her personal email is unclear). At some point, Alcoba (the victim) received phone call from a hospital and was told that a patient named Berenji identified her as next of kin. Alcoba freaked the fuck out. Court ends up issuing stalking and harassment order and orders attorney’s fees, Berenji appeals.
Holding: Affirmed. Berenji argued that getting pissed about job status falls under legitimate employ-related correspondence and that can’t be harassing, under a first amendment type analysis. Wrong, Court said, and not in the way you went about it, especially the weird incidents. Berenji also argued that sending a photo by itself wasn’t stalking and there’s no evidence it was intentional. Umm, yeah, no, the Court ruled. A trial judge could reasonably conclude that sending lewd photos was stalking.
Takeaway: Some cases are hard to win on appeal. Enough said.
Aminpour v. Englund
COA Division 1
August 2, 2021
Facts: Neighbor dispute over land (brace yourself for this shocker!) ends up in litigation (no, you don’t say). Aminpour petitions for anti-harassment order. At hearing, lawyer says he has surveillance videos of the harassing conduct but couldn’t get them uploaded in time. Asked if wants continuance, counsel says can go forward without them. Hearing happens; Aminpour loses. Then, on motion to reconsider under the substantial justice prong of CR 59, Aminpour’s new attorney files the videos and says “Yeah, now I want you to see the videos.” Court reconsiders after watching videos. Englund appeals.
Holding: Reverses. Aminpour made a choice to go to trial without the videos and lost. He can’t now say “oops, changed my mind, maybe I do need the videos to win.” And trial judge just watched the videos and changed its mind, without explaining WHY it should have given trial counsel a pass for deciding to go forward without them. Abuse of discretion.
Takeaway: If your client has video evidence of harassment, to quote Nike, JUST USE IT.
About Us: Zuanich Law focuses on criminal and civil and family law appeals, post-conviction relief, and restoring firearm rights. We also have an active civil litigation practice, including family law, personal injury, landlord-tenant, business law, civil protection orders, administrative hearings, and contract disputes.