Court of Appeals Division I 

State of Washington
Opinion Information Sheet


Docket Number: 63717-7
Title of Case: State Of Washington, Respondent V. Timothy C. Reanier, Appellant
File Date: 08/02/2010


SOURCE OF APPEAL
----------------
Appeal from King County Superior Court
Docket No: 04-1-12848-6
Judgment or order under review
Date filed: 06/01/2009
Judge signing: Honorable James D Cayce


JUDGES
------
Authored by Ronald Cox
Concurring: J. Robert Leach
Michael S. Spearman


COUNSEL OF RECORD
-----------------

Counsel for Appellant(s)
Washington Appellate Project
Attorney at Law
1511 Third Avenue
Suite 701
Seattle, WA, 98101


Maureen Marie Cyr
Washington Appellate Project
1511 3rd Ave Ste 701
Seattle, WA, 98101-3635

Counsel for Respondent(s)
Prosecuting Atty King County
King Co Pros/App Unit Supervisor
W554 King County Courthouse
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA, 98104


Deborah A. Dwyer
King Co Pros Ofc/Appellate Unit
516 3rd Ave Ste W554
Seattle, WA, 98104-2362






IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON

STATE OF WASHINGTON, ) No. 63717-7-I
)
Respondent, ) DIVISION ONE
)
v. )
)
TIMOTHY C. REANIER, ) PUBLISHED
)
Appellant. ) FILED: August 2, 2010
)
)

Cox, J. -- An accused may not lawfully agree to a term of commitment for

treatment following acquittal by reason of insanity where the term exceeds that
authorized by law.1 Where an accused agrees to an unauthorized term of

commitment, that agreement does not cure a facial defect in an order of

commitment that shows, without further elaboration, that the court exceeded its
statutory authority.2 The remedy under such circumstances is correction of the

unauthorized term of commitment.3

1 See In re Pers. Restraint of West, 154 Wn.2d 204, 213-14, 110 P.3d 1122
(2005) ("'[A]n individual cannot, by way of a negotiated plea agreement, agree to a
sentence in excess of that allowed by law.'" (quoting In re Pers. Restraint of Hinton, 152
Wn.2d 853, 861, 100 P.3d 801 (2004)) (citing In re Pers. Restraint of Goodwin, 146
Wn.2d 861, 870, 50 P.3d 618 (2002); In re Pers. Restraint of Thompson, 141 Wn.2d
712, 723, 10 P.3d 380 (2000)); State v. Harris, 39 Wn. App. 460, 462-65, 693 P.2d
750, review denied, 103 Wn.2d 1030 (1985).
2 See West, 154 Wn.2d at 211, 214.
3 See id. at 215.

No. 63717-7-I/2

Here, the trial court ordered Timothy Reanier committed for treatment for

a term of 10 years following his acquittal by reason of insanity on two charges of

third degree assault. In doing so, the court accepted the joint recommendation

of Reanier and the State that "an exceptional term of commitment" would be

imposed. Specifically, the parties agreed that the maximum sentence for two

counts of third degree assault, each of which was five years, should apply and

that Reanier's commitment would "run consecutively for a total term of 10 years."

At the time of Reanier's commission of the acts leading to these charges,

the maximum sentence for a third degree assault charge, a Class C felony, was
five years.4 RCW 10.77.025 mandates that the maximum term of commitment

for treatment following acquittal by reason of insanity cannot exceed the

maximum possible penal sentence for any offense charged for which the person

was acquitted. The statute is ambiguous whether a term of commitment may be

based on consecutive maximum sentences for charges for which an accused is

acquitted by reason of insanity. Moreover, the legislature has not changed the

statute to show that this court's decision prohibiting such a term of confinement

was incorrect during the 25 years since that decision. Accordingly, we conclude

that the trial court exceeded its authority by ordering Reanier committed for a

total term exceeding five years. We reverse.

In July 2004, the State charged Reanier with assault in the second

degree, including a deadly weapon allegation. The charge arose from a

confrontation between Reanier and two sheriff's deputies who responded to a

4 RCW 9A.36.031(2); RCW 9A.20.021(1)(c).

2

No. 63717-7-I/3

call of a man wielding a knife in public. In its request for bail of $500,000, the

State alleged that "it appears as though this charge represents [Reanier's] third

strike." The certification for determination of probable cause states that when

the deputies arrived, Reanier screamed at them to "shoot him." The certification

also states that he rushed toward the deputies with a knife before they subdued

him with a taser.

The trial court ordered that Reanier be committed for observation and

examination, and that a competency hearing would follow. At the competency

hearing, the court determined that Reanier was competent to stand trial and to

enter a plea to charges.

Thereafter, the parties entered into a plea agreement to dispose of the

case. In the agreement, the State agreed to amend the information to reduce

the second degree assault charge to two counts of third degree assault. The

parties agreed to jointly recommend to the court that it impose a term of

commitment for treatment of Reanier. The parties further agreed that the total

term would be based on consecutive maximum sentences for two counts of third
degree assault "for a total term of 10 years."5 In the same agreement, Reanier

agreed that he would have faced a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment

without the possibility of parole had he been convicted of the original charge of

second degree assault. Accordingly, he also agreed that he received a

substantial benefit by agreeing to a joint recommendation of a 10-year term of

commitment rather than facing the risk of a mandatory sentence of life without

5 Clerk's Papers at 33.

3

No. 63717-7-I/4

the possibility of parole if convicted.

Pursuant to RCW 10.77.080, Reanier moved for acquittal on the ground

of insanity at the time of his acts in confronting the two sheriff's deputies. On

May 31, 2005, the trial court entered its order of acquittal by reason of insanity,

an order of commitment, and supporting findings and conclusions. The court

decided that Reanier understood and agreed that 10 years was a legal term of

commitment under the facts of the case. The court also determined that he

received a substantial benefit by the agreement and that he properly waived the

right to challenge the term of commitment by appeal or collateral attack. The

order of commitment imposes a "maximum term of commitment or treatment" of
10 years.6 Reanier did not appeal these orders.

In April 2007, Reanier applied for conditional release from commitment for

treatment at Western State Hospital. Following a hearing at which Reanier, his

counsel, and counsel for the State were present, the trial court entered an order

releasing Reanier from commitment, subject to detailed conditions. These

conditions were based largely on the recommendations and medical evidence

provided by Western State.

In April 2009, the State moved to revoke Reanier's conditional release

due to his alleged violations of conditions imposed by the trial court's April 2007

order. Specifically, the State claimed that he failed to report to his community

corrections officer and ingested cocaine. Reanier, through appointed counsel,

opposed revocation.

6 Clerk's Papers at 31-32.

4

No. 63717-7-I/5

Acknowledging that Reanier had agreed in May 2005, to consecutive five

year terms of commitment, defense counsel nevertheless argued that the

maximum term for any third degree assault was five years. According to defense

counsel, the court no longer had "jurisdiction" to impose conditions or sanctions

on Reanier after five years.

At the hearing on the motion, the State argued that RCW 10.77.025

supported the imposition of the 10-year commitment. In response, Reanier

argued that the statute did not support the imposition of that term. On June 1,

2009, the court entered an order that, among other things, directed that Reanier

return to Western State Hospital and remain there until such time as he entered

treatment for chemical dependency. The same order denies the request "to limit

jurisdiction of [the] court to supervise compliance with release conditions to 5
years total for both charges." 7

Reanier appeals the June 1, 2009 order.

TIMELINESS OF APPEAL AND SCOPE OF REVIEW

The State raises threshold issues regarding the timeliness of Reanier's

appeal and the scope of our review. Specifically, the State contends that his

appeal is untimely because he did not appeal the order of commitment entered

in May 2005. We disagree.

Superior Court Criminal Rule (CrR) 7.8(b)(4) provides for relief from void

judgments. "A void judgment is one entered by a court 'which lacks jurisdiction

of the parties or of the subject matter, or which lacks the inherent power to

7 Clerk's Papers at 96-97.

5

No. 63717-7-I/6

make or enter the particular order involved.'"8 A motion attacking a

sentencing court's authority to sentence a criminal defendant in excess of the
statutory maximum sentence is properly brought under CrR 7.8(b)(4).9

A party must move under CrR 7.8(b)(4) "within a reasonable time," subject
to RCW 10.73.090, .100, .130, and .140.1 RCW 10.73.090(1) provides,

No petition or motion for collateral attack on a judgment and
sentence in a criminal case may be filed more than one year after
the judgment becomes final if the judgment and sentence is valid
on its face and was rendered by a court of competent
jurisdiction.[11]

The term "valid on its face" has been interpreted to mean, "'without further
elaboration.'"12 "A judgment and sentence is invalid on its face if it exceeds the

duration allowed by statute and the alleged defect is evident on the face of the
document without further elaboration."13

Here, the State does not claim that Reanier failed to make his motion

"within a reasonable time," as CrR 7.8(b)(5) requires. Thus, the question is

whether RCW 10.73.090(1) bars relief in this case.

The State does not argue that the order of commitment is valid on its face,

as the statute states. It is clear from examination of the order of commitment,

without further elaboration, that the 10-year term of commitment that the trial

8 State v. Zavala-Reynoso, 127 Wn. App. 119, 122, 110 P.3d 827 (2005)
(emphasis added) (quoting Dike v. Dike, 75 Wn.2d 1, 7, 448 P.2d 490 (1968)).
9 Id. at 123.
1 CrR 7.8(b).
11 (Emphasis added.)
12 Zavala-Reynoso, 127 Wn. App. at 124 (internal quotation marks omitted)
(quoting In re Pers. Restraint of Stoudmire, 141 Wn.2d 342, 353, 5 P.3d 1240 (2000));
see also Goodwin, 146 Wn.2d at 866.
13 West, 154 Wn.2d at 211.

6

No. 63717-7-I/7

court imposed in its May 2005 order exceeded the statutory maximum term for
third degree assault, a class C felony, which is five years.14 Thus, Reanier is not

barred from making a collateral attack on that order.

The State argues that Reanier's appeal is untimely because he did not

appeal the May 2005 order of commitment within the 30-day period allowed for

filing a notice of appeal under RAP 5.2(a). His failure to appeal the earlier order

is not fatal to this appeal of the June 1, 2009, order designated in his notice of

appeal.

The proper focus of RAP 5.2(a) in this case is the order the court entered

on June 1, 2009. While Reanier did not characterize his opposition to

revocation as a CrR 7.8 motion, it is clear from the arguments by the parties at

the hearing that a focus of both sides was RCW 10.77.025. While they framed

their arguments in terms of "jurisdiction," it is clear that the arguments centered

on whether the court's authority to return Reanier to commitment could exceed

five years. Thus, the timely appeal of the June 1, 2009, order brings up for

review the trial court's most recent decision denying his request for release.

Moreover, this is also a proper collateral attack on the May 2005 order of
commitment under CrR 7.8(b)(4) to the extent that order is a void judgment.15

Both orders are properly before us on review.

The State next argues that this appeal is untimely because Reanier's

motion was untimely under CrR 7.4. That rule requires motions for arrest of

14 RCW 10.77.025(1); RCW 9A.20.021(1)(c).
15 See RCW 10.73.090(2) ("Collateral attack" includes a motion to vacate
judgment).

7

No. 63717-7-I/8

judgment to be made within 10 days after the verdict or decision.16 Specifically,

the State claims that Reanier's motion was based on the court's alleged "lack of
jurisdiction of the person or offense."17

Having examined the motion and the portions of the record before us, we

conclude that the motion is properly characterized as one made under CrR 7.8,

not CrR 7.4. Thus, the motion was not untimely.

Likewise, we reject the State's argument, based on In re Personal
Restraint of Goodwin,18 that Reanier must file a personal restraint petition to

obtain relief. We see no reason, under the circumstances of this case, to bar

consideration of his claim due to the manner in which he presents it.

MAXIMUM TERM OF COMMITMENT

Reanier argues that the trial court exceeded its statutory authority in

imposing a 10-year term of commitment following his acquittal by reason of

insanity on the third degree assault charges. We agree.

A criminal defendant acquitted by reason of insanity may be subject to
ongoing supervision.19 If the court finds that the defendant is a substantial

danger to other persons, or presents a substantial likelihood of committing

criminal acts jeopardizing public safety or security, the court may order his or her
hospitalization or any appropriate, less restrictive alternative treatment.2 If the

court finds the defendant presents no such danger but is in need of control by

16 CrR 7.4(b).
17 Brief of Respondent at 11.
18 146 Wn.2d 861, 50 P.3d 618 (2002).
19 See RCW 10.77.110.
2 RCW 10.77.110(1).

8

No. 63717-7-I/9

the court or other persons or institutions, the court will order his or her
conditional release.21

The court's authority to order a term of commitment or treatment is limited

by RCW 10.77.025(1), which provides,

Whenever any person has been: (a) Committed to a correctional
facility or inpatient treatment under any provision of this chapter; or
(b) ordered to undergo alternative treatment following his or
her acquittal by reason of insanity of a crime charged, such
commitment or treatment cannot exceed the maximum
possible penal sentence for any offense charged for which the
person was committed, or was acquitted by reason of
insanity.[22]

The "maximum possible penal sentence" refers to the statutory maximum

of the charged offense, not the top end of the standard range as defined by the
Sentencing Reform Act (SRA).23 Our courts have recognized that the purpose

behind limiting confinement to the maximum penal term is to give effect to
constitutional restrictions governing involuntary confinement.24

"The court's fundamental objective is to ascertain and carry out the

Legislature's intent, and if the statute's meaning is plain on its face, then the

court must give effect to that plain meaning as an expression of legislative
intent."25 It is appropriate to resort to aids to construction, including legislative

21 RCW 10.77.110(3).
22 (Emphasis added.)
23 State v. Sunich, 76 Wn. App. 202, 206, 884 P.2d 1 (1994).
24 Harris, 39 Wn. App. at 463-64 (citing Jackson v. Indiana, 406 U.S. 715, 92 S.
Ct. 1845, 32 L. Ed. 2d 435 (1972)); In re Pers. Restraint of Kolocotronis, 99 Wn.2d
147,152-53, 660 P.2d 731 (1983). Both Harris and Kolocotronis discuss former RCW
10.77.020(3) (1974), amended by Laws of 1998, ch. 297, § 30. The same session law
moved substantially similar language to a new section, RCW 10.77.025. Laws of 1998,
ch. 297, § 31.
25 Dep't of Ecology v. Campbell & Gwinn, LLC, 146 Wn.2d 1, 9-10, 43 P.3d 4
(2002).

9

No. 63717-7-I/10

history, if a statute is ambiguous.26 A statute is ambiguous if, after examining all

that the legislature has said in that and related statutes, the statute remains
susceptible to more than one reasonable meaning.27 When legislative history

fails to provide sufficient guidance, the rule of lenity "provides that a statutory
ambiguity in a criminal case should be resolved in favor of the defendant."28

Additionally, the legislature "'is presumed to be aware of judicial interpretation of

its enactments,' and where statutory language remains unchanged after a court

decision the court will not overrule clear precedent interpreting the same
statutory language."29 The meaning of a statute is a question of law reviewed de

novo.3

In State v. Harris,31 this court addressed the interpretation of language

substantially similar to that which now appears in RCW 10.77.025(1).32 There,

26 Id. at 12.
27 Id. at 11-12.
28 Harris, 39 Wn. App. at 464-65 (citing State ex rel. McDonald v. Whatcom
County Dist. Court, 92 Wn.2d 35, 37-38, 593 P.2d 546 (1979)).
29 Riehl v. Foodmaker, Inc., 152 Wn.2d 138, 147, 94 P.3d 930 (2004) (quoting
Friends of Snoqualmie Valley v. King County Boundary Review Bd., 118 Wn.2d 488,
496-97, 825 P.2d 300 (1992)).
3 Campbell & Gwinn, 146 Wn.2d at 9.
31 39 Wn. App. 460, 693 P.2d 750, review denied, 103 Wn.2d 1030 (1985).
32 Id. at 462. Former RCW 10.77.020(3) (1974) provided,

Whenever any person has been committed under any provision of this
chapter, or ordered to undergo alternative treatment following his
acquittal of a crime charged by reason of insanity, such commitment or
treatment cannot exceed the maximum possible penal sentence for any
offense charged for which he was acquitted by reason of insanity. . . .

In 1998, the legislature deleted the provision at issue in Harris and inserted the
language into a newly enacted statute, RCW 10.77.025. Laws of 1998, ch. 297, §§ 30,
31. RCW 10.77.025(1) provides,

Whenever any person has been: (a) Committed to a correctional facility
or inpatient treatment under any provision of this chapter; or (b) ordered

10

No. 63717-7-I/11

Harris was acquitted by reason of insanity of one count of second degree
possession of stolen property and one count of forgery.33 Each charge was a

class C felony and carried a maximum possible sentence of five years.34 The

trial court entered an order of acquittal by reason of insanity on June 12, 1978,
and also an order conditionally releasing Harris to treatment.35 This court's

opinion does not state exactly what term of commitment the order imposed. But

it is clear that the term exceeded five years, the maximum possible sentence for

either of the charges.

In May 1983, nearly five years after the trial court's initial order committing
Harris to treatment, he filed a petition for final discharge.36 The trial court denied

the petition, and Harris timely appealed.37 He argued that he was entitled to final

discharge under former RCW 10.77.020(3) (1974), which provided

"Whenever any person has been committed under any provision of
this chapter, or ordered to undergo alternative treatment following
his acquittal of a crime charged by reason of insanity, such
commitment or treatment cannot exceed the maximum possible
penal sentence for any offense charged for which he was acquitted
by reason of insanity."[38]

Harris reasoned that the plain language of the statute -- "maximum

possible penal sentence for any offense charged" -- limited his term to five

to undergo alternative treatment following his or her acquittal by reason
of insanity of a crime charged, such commitment or treatment cannot
exceed the maximum possible penal sentence for any offense charged
for which the person was committed, or was acquitted by reason of
insanity.
33 Id. at 462.
34 Id. at 462-63.
35 Id. at 462.
36 Id.
37 Id.
38 Id. (quoting former RCW 10.77.020(3)).

11

No. 63717-7-I/12

years.39 He based his argument on the portion of the statute that states that the

statutory maximum was for "any offense," because the word "offense" is
singular.4 The court rejected that argument, noting that Washington courts have

"repeatedly construed the word 'any' to mean 'every' and 'all.'"41 Thus, the court

was "unpersuaded that the statutory language itself resolve[d] the issue."42

The court next considered legislative history that the State argued

clarified the legislature's intent regarding the statute. In doing so, the court

concluded that the statute was enacted in response to a United States Supreme

Court case that held that a defendant found incompetent to stand trial could not
be committed indefinitely without a finding of dangerousness.43 But the court

concluded that the most that could be said about the statute was that the

legislature sought to tie the commitment period in some way to the maximum
penal sentence.44 In sum, the court concluded that legislative history did not

show that the legislature "even considered the situation in which two or more
offenses were charged."45

Because neither the wording of the statute nor its legislative history

provided sufficient guidance of legislative intent, the court relied upon the only

39 Id. at 462-63 (emphasis added) (quoting former RCW 10.77.020(3)).
4 Id. at 463.
41 Id. (citing State ex rel. Evans v. Brotherhood of Friends, 41 Wn.2d 133, 247
P.2d 787 (1952); S.L. Rowland Constr. Co. v. Beall Pipe and Tank Corp., 14 Wn. App.
297, 306-07, 540 P.2d 912 (1975)).
42 Id.; see also State v. Westling, 145 Wn.2d 607, 611, 40 P.3d 669 (2002) (
"'Any' means 'every' and 'all.'" (citing State v. Smith, 117 Wn.2d 263, 271, 814 P.2d
652 (1991))).
43 Id. at 463-64 (citing Jackson, 406 U.S. 715).
44 Id. at 464.
45 Id.

12

No. 63717-7-I/13

other rule applicable under the circumstances: the rule of lenity.46 Under that

rule, a statutory ambiguity in a criminal case should be resolved in favor of the
accused.47 Despite the court's reluctance to rely on this rule of statutory

construction, it was compelled to reverse because of the ambiguity and the lack
of relevant legislative history.48 The court noted "that if the Legislature intended

to allow a maximum period of commitment based on consecutive sentences, it
could have so provided in the statute."49 The supreme court denied review of

the case.5

Little has changed in the 25 years since the court decided Harris. The

language of the statute that is before us now is not materially different from the

language the court construed in that case. Significantly, the legislature has

done nothing to change the statute in ways relevant to the language at issue

here. We have no reason to conclude that the legislature, which has been

presumably aware of Harris for the last 25 years, disagrees with its holding.

Accordingly, the five year maximum sentence for third degree assault is the

statutory maximum for Reanier's commitment.

The State argues that Harris should not bind this court. It first argues,

contrary to the conclusion of the court in that case, that the statute is not

ambiguous. According to the State, substitution of either the word "every" or "all"

46 Id. at 464-65.
47 Id. at 465.
48 Id.
49 Id. at 465 n.2. (citing People v. Hampton, 121 Ill. App. 3d 273, 459 N.E.2d
985 (1983); People v. Smith, 160 Cal. App. 3d 1100 (1984)).
5 Harris, 103 Wn.2d 1030 (1985).

13

No. 63717-7-I/14

for the word "any" in the phrase "maximum possible penal sentence for any

offense charged" could support the consecutive maximum terms imposed here.

In making this argument, the State draws on this court's statement in Harris that

courts have repeatedly construed "all" to mean both of these other two words.

Although we question whether the substitution of either of these words for the

word "any" in the statute necessarily resolves any ambiguity in favor of

permitting terms of commitment based on consecutive sentences, the State's

argument is better directed to the legislature.

The State also argues that even if the statute is ambiguous, "the intent of

the legislature is clearer now than it was under the sentencing scheme in effect"
when the court decided Harris.51 Again, this is an argument better directed to

the legislature. The role of this court is to determine legislative intent. Because

the legislature has not modified the key portion of the statute in the 25 years

since Harris, we conclude there is no reason to depart from the holding of that

court.

The State finally argues that Reanier's case is distinguishable from that in

Harris because "it appears that the court in Harris was dealing with a

hypothetical term of commitment." Here, Reanier expressly "agreed to, and
received, consecutive terms for his two crimes."52

First, we note from the opinion in Harris that it was the State who argued

that the statute allowed commitment for a period equal to that which would have

51 Brief of Respondent at 16.
52 Id. at 17-18.

14

No. 63717-7-I/15

been served had consecutive sentences been imposed, or 10 years.53 Although

the opinion does not expressly state what term of commitment was imposed, it is

clear from the recital of facts and procedural history that Harris filed a petition for

final discharge nearly five years after the trial court entered its order
conditionally releasing him to treatment.54 On appeal, the focus of the court was

on whether Harris was entitled under former RCW 10.77.020(3) to final
discharge after five years of commitment.55 When the court reversed in January

1985, the remand included the directive that Harris be granted final discharge.56

In short, the case did not involve hypothetical facts. The term of commitment

exceeded the five-year maximum sentence for either of the two charged

offenses.

Second, and more importantly, this argument, as well, is better directed to

the legislature. It can decide whether it intends an interpretation of the statute

different than the one stated in Harris.

The trial court exceeded its statutory authority when it imposed a 10-year

term of commitment under the circumstances of this case.

REMEDY

The State argues, in the alternative, that Reanier's plea is indivisible and

he cannot request relief from his sentence without also challenging his plea

53 Harris, 39 Wn. App. at 463.
54 Harris, 39 Wn. App. at 462. The trial court's orders were entered on June 12,
1978. Harris filed a petition for final discharge on May 20, 1983. The decision does not
state the date of the hearing for Harris' petition.
55 Id. at 462-65.
56 Id. at 465.

15

No. 63717-7-I/16

agreement. We disagree.

To the extent that the State argues that Reanier's agreement to serve

consecutive terms constitutes waiver, it is incorrect. Though direct appeal and

collateral attack are not always available for defendants who have entered into

plea agreements, our supreme court's decision in In re Personal Restraint of
West57 is instructive. There, the State charged West with one count of first

degree robbery, for which West faced life without the possibility of parole as a
persistent offender.58 West entered into a plea agreement in which the State

agreed to reduce the charge to theft in the first degree. In exchange, West

agreed to plead guilty, stipulate to an exceptional sentence of 10 years, and
waive any right to earned early release time.59 The trial court sentenced West to

10 years, the statutory maximum, and indicated on the judgment and sentence,
"defendant stipulates to flat time -- no earned early release."6

On appeal, the supreme court concluded the doctrine of waiver does not

apply where the alleged sentencing error is a legal, rather than factual, error
leading to an excessive sentence.61 "The fact that a defendant agreed to a

particular sentence does not cure a facial defect in the judgment and sentence
where the sentencing court acted outside its authority."62

The court also concluded that the statute governing earned early release

57 154 Wn.2d 204, 110 P.3d 1122 (2005).
58 Id. at 207.
59 Id.
6 Id. at 208.
61 Id. at 213 (citing Goodwin, 146 Wn.2d at 874).
62 Id. at 214.

16

No. 63717-7-I/17

time provided no authority to the trial court to restrict such time.63 Accordingly,

the trial court's sentence was not authorized by statute and was "a fundamental
defect," which justified collateral relief.64

The court rejected the State's arguments that West had waived any right

to earned early release time as part of her plea agreement and that she invited
any error.65 In considering the proper remedy, the court stated, "This court has

been clear that 'the imposition of an unauthorized sentence does not require

vacation of the entire judgment or granting of a new trial. The error is grounds
for reversing only the erroneous portion of the sentence imposed.'"66 The court

remanded for correction of the invalid judgment and sentence in the form of
deletion of the earned early release time provision.67

In West, the supreme court relied in part on its earlier conclusion in In re
Personal Restraint of Goodwin.68 There, petitioner Goodwin argued that his

juvenile convictions should have "washed out" under the SRA and were
improperly included in his offender score.69 The court agreed that Goodwin's

offender score "was miscalculated," and that his offender score was, "as a matter

of law in excess of what is statutorily permitted for his crimes given a correct
offender score."7 As to remedy, the court acknowledged that it had previously

63 Id. at 212-13.
64 Id. at 213.
65 Id. at 213-14.
66 Id. at 215 (quoting State v. Eilts, 94 Wn.2d 489, 496, 617 P.2d 993 (1980)).
67 Id.
68 146 Wn.2d 861, 50 P.3d 618 (2002).
69 Id. at 864-65.
7 Id. at 875-76.

17

No. 63717-7-I/18

"granted relief to personal restraint petitioners in the form of resentencing within

statutory authority where a sentence in excess of that authority had been
imposed, without regard to the plea agreements involved."71 The court

specifically rejected the State's argument that the court should leave the parties

as it found them, since "the usual remedy is the defendant's withdrawal of his

guilty plea, leaving the State free to reinstate the original charges," but the
statute of limitations had run in Goodwin's case.72 The court stated, "Our focus

is not the voluntariness of the plea agreement, nor are we engaging in a

balancing process, weighing the harm to the State versus the harm to the
personal restraint petitioner."73 The court concluded, "Correcting an erroneous

sentence in excess of statutory authority does not affect the finality of that

portion of the judgment and sentence that was correct and valid when
imposed."74 The court granted Goodwin's personal restraint petition, vacated his

sentence, and remanded his case for resentencing using the correct offender
score.75

These cases support remand and final discharge because Reanier has

served the maximum term of commitment authorized by the legislature. In this

case, that maximum is five years.
The State misplaces its reliance on State v. Ermels76 to argue that the

71 Id. at 877 (citing In re Pers. Restraint of Gardner, 94 Wn.2d 504, 617 P.2d
1001 (1980); In re Pers. Restraint of Moore, 116 Wn.2d 30, 803 P.2d 300 (1991)).
72 Id. at 876.
73 Id. (footnote omitted).
74 Id. (citing In re Pers. Restraint of Carle, 93 Wn.2d 31, 34, 604 P.2d 1293
(1980)).
75 Id. at 877-78.

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appropriate remedy is for Reanier to withdraw his plea. In Ermels, the defendant

stipulated to both a factual and legal basis for an exceptional sentence as part of
his plea agreement to a charge of second degree manslaughter.77 He also

waived his right to appeal the basis for and propriety of an exceptional
sentence.78 On appeal, he argued that he did not knowingly waive his right to

have a jury determine the facts supporting his exceptional sentence beyond a
reasonable doubt under Blakely v. Washington,79 which had been decided by

the United States Supreme Court while Ermels' appeal was pending with the
Washington Court of Appeals.8 Ermels asked the court to remand for imposition

of a sentence within the standard sentencing range.81 The court concluded,

"Ermels' limited request for remedy is fatal because it does not appear that he

can challenge the validity of his exceptional sentence without challenging the
validity of the entire plea."82

A key distinguishing feature between this case and Ermels is that the
exceptional sentence in Ermels was authorized by statute.83 Here, the term of

commitment is not authorized by statute. Ermels does not control this situation.

76 156 Wn.2d 528, 131 P.3d 299 (2006).
77 Id. at 531, 533-34.
78 Id.
79 542 U.S. 296, 124 S. Ct. 2531, 159 L. Ed. 2d 403 (2004).
8 Ermels, 156 Wn.2d at 531, 538-39.
81 Id. at 540.
82 Id. at 540.
83 Id. at 535-36 (The court noted its previous holding "that a stipulation to an
exceptional sentence is enough, in and of itself, to constitute a substantial and
compelling reason to justify an exceptional sentence, so long as the sentence is
authorized by statute and the findings also show that the sentence is consistent with
the goals of the [SRA]." (emphasis added) (citing In re Pers. Restraint of Breedlove,
138 Wn.2d 298, 300, 979 P.2d 417 (1999))).

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The State also relies on State v. Miller84 and State v. Walsh85 to argue

that the remedies available to Reanier are either specific performance or

withdrawal of the plea. We disagree on the basis that those cases are

distinguishable.

In Miller, the prosecutor inadvertently told the defendant that he could
receive a sentence of less than 20 years for a first degree murder conviction.86

After Miller pled guilty, he learned that a statute mandated at least a 20-year
sentence.87 He tried to withdraw his guilty plea, but the trial court denied his

motion.88 Since it was undisputed that Miller did not understand the

consequences of pleading guilty, the supreme court held that Miller could
withdraw his plea or have the plea agreement specifically enforced.89

In Walsh, the defendant established that his guilty plea was involuntary
based upon a mutual mistake about the standard range sentence.9 Both the

defense and the prosecution understood at the time of entering into a plea

agreement that the standard sentencing range was 86 to 114 months, when the
actual range was 95 to 125 months.91 The court held that Walsh was entitled to

withdraw his guilty plea because his plea was not voluntary.92

In Miller and Walsh, the defendants sought to withdraw guilty pleas that

84 110 Wn.2d 528, 756 P.2d 122 (1988).
85 143 Wn.2d 1, 17 P.3d 591 (2001).
86 Miller, 110 Wn.2d at 529.
87 Id.
88 Id.
89 Id. at 536-37.
9 Walsh, 143 Wn.2d at 8.
91 Id. at 4.
92 Id. at 9-10.

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were either unknowing or involuntary due to misinformation.93 In both cases, the

misinformation upon which the plea agreements relied was in favor of the

defendant. Both were misinformed that a shorter term of confinement was
available than actually was.94

Here, Reanier does not seek to withdraw his guilty plea to reduced

charges of third degree assault. And he does not argue that he entered into his

plea either unknowingly or involuntarily. Moreover, the "remedy" of specific

performance is no remedy at all for Reanier. Neither case controls here.

As of the date of filling of this opinion, it is clear that Reanier has served

more than five years, the maximum sentence for third degree assault, for which

he was acquitted by reason of insanity. He is entitled to discharge because the

statute does not authorize confining him any longer.

We reverse and remand for entry of an order directing final discharge.

WE CONCUR:

93 Miller, 110 Wn.2d at 536-37; Walsh, 143 Wn.2d at 8.
94 Miller, 110 Wn.2d at 529; Walsh, 143 Wn.2d at 4.

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