Court of Appeals Division I
State of Washington
Opinion Information Sheet
Docket Number: 61883-1
Title of Case: Personal Restraint Petition Of Stanford Morgan Spires
File Date: 07/13/2009
SOURCE OF APPEAL
Appeal from King County Superior Court
Docket No: 92-1-01993-7
Judgment or order under review
Authored by Ronald Cox
Concurring: Anne Ellington
Mary Kay Becker
COUNSEL OF RECORD
Counsel for Petitioner(s)
Lila Jane Silverstein
Washington Appellate Project
1511 3rd Ave Ste 701
Seattle, WA, 98101-3647
Counsel for Respondent(s)
Ann Marie Summers
King County Prosecutor's Office
516 3rd Ave Ste W554
Seattle, WA, 98104-2362
View the Opinion in PDF Format
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
In re Personal Restraint Petition of ) No. 61883-1-I
STANFORD MORGAN SPIRES, ) DIVISION ONE
) FILED: July 13, 2009
Cox, J. -- At issue in this personal restraint petition of Stanford Spires is
whether the legal financial obligations (LFOs) that the trial court imposed against
him in June 1992 are still enforceable. Because the 10-year limitations period
expired in December 2002, we hold that the LFOs are no longer enforceable.
Accordingly, we grant the petition.
The relevant facts are undisputed. On June 26, 1992, the trial court
sentenced Stanford Spires to three concurrent exceptional sentences of 13
months each for three counts of unlawful issuance of bank checks.1 According
to the judgment and sentence, the crimes were all committed in February 1992.2
1 State's Response to Personal Restraint Petition, Appendix A at 2-3.
The trial court also ordered Spires to pay to a bank and a car dealer a total of
$8,975.53 in restitution.3 He served his term of confinement and was released
from the Washington State Penitentiary on December 13, 1992.4
In 1995, the superior court ordered Spires to serve 20 days in jail for
failing to pay LFOs and changing his address without notice to the Department
of Corrections.5 On August 31, 1998, the clerk of the superior court issued a
bench warrant for Spires for "probation violation."6 The State asserts and Spires
agrees that this bench warrant remains outstanding.7
In December 2007, the trial court denied Spires' motion to terminate LFOs
for the 1992 convictions.8 In June 2008, Spires filed this personal restraint
petition. Thereafter, the acting chief judge of this court determined that the
petition was not frivolous, appointed counsel, and referred this matter to the
undersigned panel of judges.
TERM OF CONFINEMENT
Spires argues that the trial court no longer has jurisdiction to enforce his
2 Id. at 1.
3 State's Response to Personal Restraint Petition, Appendix B at 1.
4 Petitioner's Supplemental Brief, Appendix B at 1.
5 State's Response to Personal Restraint Petition, Appendix C at 1.
6 Personal Restraint Petition, attachment.
7 State's Response to Personal Restraint Petition at 3; Petitioner's
Supplemental Brief at 2.
8 Petitioner's Supplemental Brief, Appendix F at 1.
LFOs. We agree.
Personal restraint petitions are not a substitute for direct review.9 Where
the petitioner has not had a prior opportunity for judicial review, the petitioner
need only show that he is restrained under RAP 16.4(b) and that the restraint is
unlawful under RAP 16.4(c).1 Petitioners are restrained if, among other things,
they are confined or are "under some other disability resulting from a judgment
or sentence in a criminal case."11 The restraint is unlawful if, among other
things, "[t]he conviction was obtained or the sentence or other order entered in a
criminal proceeding . . . instituted by the state or local government was imposed
or entered in violation of the . . . laws of the State of Washington."12 We review
de novo questions of statutory interpretation.13 When the statute's meaning is
plain, we give effect to that plain meaning as an expression of legislative intent.14
In giving effect to the plain meaning of the legislature's words, we do not
question the wisdom or the public policy behind the statute.15
9 In re Pers. Restraint of Dalluge, 162 Wn.2d 814, 817, 177 P.3d 675
11 RAP 16.4(b); see also In re Dalluge, 162 Wn.2d at 817.
12 RAP 16.4(c)(2); see also In re Pers. Restraint of Cook, 114 Wn.2d 802,
805, 792 P.2d 506 (1990) (relief in personal restraint petitions is not limited to
constitutional errors; statutory claims are also cognizable).
13 State v. J.P., 149 Wn.2d 444, 449, 69 P.3d 318 (2003).
14 Dep't of Ecology v. Campbell & Gwinn, LLC, 146 Wn.2d 1, 9-10, 43
P.3d 4 (2002).
15 In re Pers. Restraint of Sappenfield, 138 Wn.2d 588, 591, 980 P.2d
RCW 9.94A.753(4) governs certain restitution orders for offenses
committed after July 1, 1985, and before July 1, 2000:
For the purposes of this section, for an offense committed prior to
July 1, 2000, the offender shall remain under the court's jurisdiction
for a term of ten years following the offender's release from
total confinement or ten years subsequent to the entry of the
judgment and sentence, whichever period ends later. Prior to the
expiration of the initial ten-year period, the superior court may
extend jurisdiction under the criminal judgment an additional ten
years for payment of restitution.
Former RCW 9.94A.145, in effect when Spires committed his crimes in
1992, provided, "[LFOs] may be enforced at any time during the ten-year period
following the offender's release from total confinement or within ten years of
entry of the judgment and sentence, whichever period is longer."17
RCW 9.94A.760(4), which is effective until August 1, 2009, is the
successor statute to former RCW 9.94A.145 and provides in part:
All other legal financial obligations for an offense committed prior
to July 1, 2000, may be enforced at any time during the ten-year
period following the offender's release from total confinement or
within ten years of entry of the judgment and sentence, whichever
period ends later. Prior to the expiration of the initial ten-year
period, the superior court may extend the criminal judgment an
additional ten years for payment of legal financial obligations
including crime victims' assessments.
Spires contends that the phrase "release from total confinement" relates
to the initial period of incarceration ordered in the judgment and sentence for the
16 (Emphasis added.)
17 Former RCW 9.94A.145(4) (1991), recodified as RCW 9.94A.760
(Laws of 2001, ch. 10, § 6).
18 (Emphasis added.)
crime. He argues that "total confinement" does not include subsequent periods
of incarceration for violations of conditions of community custody or payment of
restitution related to the original crime.19 Thus, Spires argues that the 10-year
time limit began when he was released from his initial period of "total
confinement" on December 13, 1992, not some later time.2 We agree.
In State v. Olson,21 Division Three of this court addressed these
arguments in the context of a direct appeal. There, as here, the offender served
time in jail for failing to pay LFOs and other sentence violations after being
released from the initial term of confinement ordered for the crime.22 The
offender then sought to terminate LFOs because it had been more than 10 years
since he was released from his initial period of incarceration.23
First, the court in Olson recognized that the supreme court's
consideration of the phrase "release from total confinement" in In re Personal
Restraint of Sappenfield24 was helpful to the analysis.25 In Sappenfield, the court
considered amendments to a former version of the general restitution statute.26
19 Petitioner's Supplemental Brief at 7.
2 Petitioner's Supplemental Brief, Appendix B at 1. The briefing from both
parties states that Spires was released from his initial period of confinement in
1993, but the record reflects that he was released in December 1992.
21 148 Wn. App. 238, 198 P.3d 1061 (2009).
22 Id. at 240-41.
23 Id. at 241.
24 138 Wn.2d 588, 980 P.2d 1271 (1999).
25 Olson, 148 Wn. App. at 244.
It held that the 10-year restitution jurisdiction was not tolled for subsequent
periods of incarceration on unrelated crimes.27 The court in Sappenfield
defined the phrase "total confinement" in a context that the Olson court found
applicable, despite the fact that Sappenfield was not directly on point.28
Specifically, the court in Sappenfield stated:
"The [trial] court's jurisdiction begins with the imposition of
sentence. It ends either 10 years later or 10 years after the
offender's release from total confinement. . . . We conclude from
this that the phrase 'release from total confinement' can only mean
release from confinement for the crime for which restitution was
The court in Olson also noted that the State "failed to identify any language in
the restitution statute or in case law to support its position that the 10-year time
period starts over if the defendant is subsequently incarcerated for probation
and restitution violations related to the original crime."3
The court in Olson next concluded that the legislature did not intend for
the restitution statute, RCW 9.94A.753(4) "to restart the 10-year time period
after subsequent periods of incarceration related to the original crime." Unlike
other provisions in the Sentencing Reform Act (SRA), the restitution statute has
26 Sappenfield, 138 Wn.2d at 592 (citing former RCW 9.94A.142,
recodified as RCW 9.94A.753 (Laws of 2001, ch. 10, § 6)).
27 Olson, 148 Wn. App. at 244 (citing Sappenfield, 138 Wn.2d at 593).
29 Sappenfield, 138 Wn.2d at 593 (quoting In re Pers. Restraint of
Sappenfield, 92 Wn. App. 729, 736, 964 P.2d 1204 (1998)).
3 Olson, 148 Wn. App. at 244.
no express language tolling the time period during subsequent periods of
incarceration.31 The court also observed that Olson's subsequent periods of
incarceration were for failing to report to his probation officer and failing to pay
restitution requirements, "not for the crime of unlawful imprisonment for which
the restitution was originally ordered."32 Division Three accordingly reversed the
trial court's order denying Olson's motion to terminate his LFOs.33
Here, Spires was originally sentenced to three exceptional and concurrent
terms of 13 months total confinement, community supervision, and restitution for
the three charges of unlawful issuance of bank checks or drafts to which he pled
guilty.34 He was released from the Washington State Penitentiary on December
13, 1992.35 The 10-year period began to run at that time for all three concurrent
Spires' subsequent period of incarceration was for failing to pay LFOs
and changing his address without notice to or permission of DOC.36 Spires'
31 Id. at 244-45 (Statute dealing with "wash out" periods used in offender
score calculations states, "[C]lass C prior felony convictions other than sex
offenses shall not be included in the offender score, if, since the last date of
release from confinement . . . the offender had spent five consecutive years in
the community without committing any crime that subsequently results in a
conviction." (citing RCW 9.94A.525(2)(c))).
32 Id. at 245.
34 Petitioner's Supplemental Brief, Appendix A at 1.
35 Petitioner's Supplemental Brief, Appendix B at 1.
36 Petitioner's Supplemental Brief, Appendix C at 1.
subsequent period of incarceration was not for the crime of unlawful issuance of
bank checks or drafts for which the restitution was initially ordered. Though
there is an outstanding bench warrant for Spires, he has not otherwise been
placed in total confinement in relation to the 1992 convictions. None of these
events tolls or otherwise affects the running of the 10-year period.
Spires' "release from total confinement," which triggered the 10-year
limitations period, was on December 13, 1992.37 As a result, the State had until
December 13, 2002, to obtain an extension of jurisdiction over Spires under
RCW 9.94A.753(4) and .760(4). It failed to do so. Thus, the court no longer has
jurisdiction to enforce the unpaid LFOs against Spires.
The State argues that because there is an outstanding bench warrant in
effect in this case, the last date of release from "total confinement" cannot yet be
determined. According to the State, the term of total confinement can only be
determined once Spires is apprehended and again confined. Thus, the State
argues that "total confinement" includes all periods of incarceration related to the
original crime, including future terms of total confinement following expiration of
the original sentence term.38 We cannot agree with this argument, which is akin
to the tolling argument rejected in Olson.
The State also argues that the term "total confinement" is ambiguous. We
disagree because the State has failed to show that there is more than one
37 Petitioner's Supplemental Brief, Appendix B at 1.
38 Supplemental Brief of Respondent at 6.
reasonable interpretation of the statute before us.39 The only reasonable
interpretation of the text is that "term of confinement" refers to the confinement
directed by the judgment and sentence.4
The State next argues that Spires' proposed interpretation of the statute
leads to the "absurd consequence" that "[a] defendant need only successfully
ignore the court's [restitution] orders for ten years and the court's jurisdiction to
enforce those orders will expire."41 The supreme court addressed this concern
in State v. Gossage.42 The court noted that the legislature "grappled with" this
issue -- that the limitations period might discourage payment and defeat the
punitive and restorative purposes of the restitution obligation -- when it amended
the restitution statute in 2000.43
The legislature . . . corrected that problem by extending the court's
jurisdiction for the lifetime of the offender or until all LFOs are
satisfied. However, it chose to do so for offenses committed only
from July 1, 2000, forward. As a corollary, the legislature left the
limitation period for offenses committed before July 1, 2000,
39 Budget Rent A Car Corp. v. Dep't of Licensing, 144 Wn.2d 889, 900, 31
P.3d 1174 (2001) ("An ambiguity arises when a term is fairly susceptible to two
or more reasonable interpretations.").
4 Sappenfield, 138 Wn.2d at 593 (concluding that the phrase "release
from total confinement" means release from confinement for the crime for which
restitution was ordered).
41 Supplemental Brief of Respondent at 6.
42 165 Wn.2d 1, 195 P.3d 525 (2008), cert. denied, 2099 WL 1307878
43 Id. at 8 (citing H.B. Rep. on Substitute S.B. 6336, 56th Leg., Reg. Sess.
44 Id. (citing Laws of 2000, ch. 226, §§ 3, 4) (internal citations omitted).
Thus, our construction of the statute does not lead to absurd consequences. If
the State believed that Spires was not living up to his responsibilities under the
restitution order, it could have moved for an extension of the term, provided it did
so in a timely fashion. We are not authorized to rewrite the statute under the
guise that the restorative and punitive purposes of restitution are thwarted.
The State cites the principle that the restitution statute must be broadly
construed in order to carry out the legislature's intent of providing restitution to
crime victims.45 The State made the same type of argument in Gossage, and the
supreme court considered and rejected the implicit assumption that the
legislature had not already grappled with and resolved that issue when it
amended these statutes.46
Finally, the State argues that Sappenfield is distinguishable.47 There, the
court concluded "'the phrase "release from total confinement" can only mean
release from confinement for the crime for which restitution is ordered'" and did
not refer to confinement in unrelated cases.48 The State argues that Spires'
case is different because "any period of confinement for failure to comply with
the court's sentence is still confinement for the crime for which restitution was
45 Supplemental Brief of Respondent at 5 (citing State v. Hennings, 129
Wn.2d 512, 519, 919 P.2d 580 (1996)).
46 Gossage, 165 Wn.2d at 7-8.
47 Supplemental Brief of Respondent at 7.
48 Sappenfield, 138 Wn.2d at 593 (quoting Sappenfield, 92 Wn. App. at
ordered."49 Therefore, according to the State, any total confinement that results
from the outstanding bench warrant in Spires' case would still be confinement for
the crime for which restitution was ordered.5 This is not persuasive.
By this reasoning, "release from total confinement" would never mean
what it says. Instead, it would effectively mean "completion of all sentence
conditions," words the legislature did not use in these statutes. Because the
legislature did not use these words, we reject the State's argument.
In sum, the plain words of the statute mandate that after the expiration of
the 10-year limitations period following the term of total confinement for which a
defendant is sentenced, the court has no power, absent a timely extension, to
enforce unpaid LFOs. Spires is entitled to the relief he requests.
We grant the personal restraint petition.
49 Supplemental Brief of Respondent at 7.
5 Id. (emphasis added).