STATE v. BARTHOLOMEW No. 51357-1.
104 Wn.2d 844 (1985)
710 P.2d 196
THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, Petitioner, v. DWAYNE EARL BARTHOLOMEW, Petitioner, PIERCE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, Respondent.
The Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc.
December 12, 1985.
William H. Griffies, Prosecuting Attorney, and Chris Quinn-Brintnall, Chief Criminal Deputy, for petitioner State.
Timothy K. Ford, for petitioner Bartholomew.
Shawn A. Flood (appointed counsel for appeal), Kane, Vandeberg, Hartinger & Walker, P.S., and G. Perrin Walker, Special Counsel, for respondent.
In December 1981, a jury convicted Dwayne Bartholomew of aggravated first degree murder and in a separate hearing the jury found no mitigating circumstances and sentenced him to death. The following November, this court affirmed the murder conviction, but invalidated the death sentence because of the unconstitutional admission of evidence, during the separate sentencing phase, regarding Bartholomew's previous criminal activity. State v. Bartholomew,
The United States Supreme Court vacated this judgment in Bartholomew I, and remanded this case in light of Zant v. Stephens,
State v. Bartholomew,
On remand the Pierce County prosecutor decided not to seek the death penalty using a new jury sentencing phase. The prosecutor, instead, decided to have the trial court sentence the defendant to life imprisonment without parole. The prosecutor asserted that this court's holding in Bartholomew I and Bartholomew II deprived him of the evidence needed to rebut the mitigating circumstances, and therefore the defendant should receive the more lenient sentence.
The trial judge questioned the right of the prosecutor to decline to seek the death penalty at this time in the proceedings. The judge appointed special counsel to argue that the prosecutor lacked discretion to decide not to seek the death penalty. After argument, the judge denied joint motions by the prosecution and defense to enter a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. The trial court cited our mandate in Bartholomew II. The parties petitioned this court to grant recall and clarifications of the mandate or discretionary review. We denied this motion by an order dated December 4, 1984.
Further proceedings were held before the Pierce County trial court at which the prosecution, defense, and special counsel argued as to whether the prosecution should proceed with the sentencing hearing. The trial court determined that a sentencing hearing must take place. The parties again petitioned this court for discretionary review,
The issue now before this court is whether the prosecuting attorney, after the penalty phase of an aggravated murder has been remanded to the trial court for a new jury deliberation solely on the death penalty issue, has the authority to commute defendant's sentence to life without the possibility of parole and bypass the jury and penalty phase of the trial.
(Italics ours.) Here, both requirements were met: the prosecutor properly had filed a notice that he would seek the death penalty and a jury found the defendant guilty of aggravated first degree murder. In such instances the statute mandates that a special sentencing proceeding take place and it gives the prosecutor neither the power nor the discretion to short circuit the penalty phase of the proceeding. In fact, the statute specifically precludes any agreement on the part of the prosecution and defense which would "abrogate the requirement that a special sentencing proceeding be held." RCW 10.95.050(1). The jury is given the exclusive right to determine whether the defendant will live or die based on mitigating circumstances.
The second provision of the statute which is dispositive as to this issue is RCW 10.95.050(4) which provides in part:
(Italics ours.) This section shows that the Legislature anticipated the issue presented by this case and provided a remedy for it. The statute is clear, unambiguous, and requires that the trial court impanel a jury to decide the proper penalty after a remand on the death penalty question. The prosecutor has no discretion to determine unilaterally that the lesser penalty be imposed.
There is no question but that the above cited sections of the statute are mandatory, and that the jury must be impaneled to decide the death penalty upon remand. The applicable statute uses the words "the trial court shall impanel a jury". The general rule is that the word "shall" is presumptively imperative and operates to create a duty rather than conferring discretion. Crown Cascade, Inc. v. O'Neal,
To allow the prosecution this discretion in a death penalty case absent specific statutory guidance could also give an unconstitutional delegation of authority to the prosecutor. See State v. Martin,
In contrast, if the prosecutor can decide after trial whether to seek the death penalty, the prosecutor has unfettered discretion after a case is remanded for error in the penalty stage. No statute exists to give him any guidance whatsoever in administering such power. Consequently, the prosecution would have the power to refuse to take the case to the jury even though the defendant has already been convicted of aggravated first degree murder. Since no guidelines would control the prosecution's decision, it is possible under a factual situation that two defendants, who are convicted of aggravated first degree murder and who have their cases remanded on appeal due to error in the sentencing phase, can, on remand, be subject to different dispositions of their cases. The prosecutor, quite arbitrarily, can decide to take one case to a new sentencing jury while refusing to do the same with the other. Consequently, two defendants, in identical situations, may have their penalties decided differently because the prosecutor has unbridled discretion as to how each will be treated. This clearly violates the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause. State v. Zornes,
Furthermore, if the prosecutor has unfettered discretion at this stage of the proceedings, it would permit him to usurp the jury's role. It is the jury, especially in capital cases, that maintains "a link between contemporary community values and the penal system — a link without which the determination of punishment could hardly reflect `the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.'" Witherspoon v. Illinois,
Because we believe that the jury is better suited for determining a defendant's sentence in a capital case, and because the statute is clear that after remand a new jury must be impaneled to determine an appropriate sentence, we remand this case with instructions that the prosecutor present this case to a sentencing jury for trial of the penalty phase of this case. The prosecution has no right, statutory or constitutional, to usurp the jury's functions to determine mitigation in this case, and make the decision whether the defendant should live or die. The prosecutor does have the right to appear before the jury and ask for mitigation and the sparing of defendant's life. The final decision, however, will rest with the jury, subject to review by this court.
BRACHTENBACH, ANDERSEN, CALLOW, GOODLOE, and DURHAM, JJ., concur.
DOLLIVER, C.J. (dissenting)
I believe the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney does have the discretion not to proceed with the death penalty after the remand of Bartholomew II (State v. Bartholomew,
The majority makes three arguments to justify its position: (1) The statute mandates its result; (2) to hold otherwise
The majority states the definitive statute is RCW 10.95.050(4), which reads:
Majority opinion, at 847-48.
As the majority points out, the language of the statute is mandatory. This, however, is not the issue. The issue is whether "a retrial of the special sentencing proceeding is necessary". The analysis of the majority, while accurate, simply begs the question. A retrial of the special sentencing proceeding is "necessary" only if under the circumstances in the case the prosecuting attorney must proceed with the special sentencing proceeding. There is no such requirement in the statute. Indeed, for the prosecuting attorney to proceed in this case with the special sentencing proceeding would violate the statutes and the holdings of this court.
On remand from an appellate reversal, parties generally have the freedom to amend their pleadings. Johnson v. Berg, 151 Wn. 363, 275 P. 721 (1929); Smith Sand & Gravel Co. v. Corbin, 102 Wn. 306, 173 P. 16 (1918). After reversal, and in the absence of special direction, a case remanded stands in the same position as before the original trial. Stusser v. Gottstein, 187 Wn. 660, 664, 61 P.2d 149 (1936), overruled on other grounds in Greene v. Rothschild,
Unimpeded amendment of pleadings is the usual rule in criminal procedure. See CrR 2.1(d). There is, moreover, nothing in the death penalty statute which is inconsistent with this court rule. See RCW 10.95.010. Without express statutory authority to the contrary, the prosecution should have the discretion to amend its pleadings in death penalty cases remanded due to error occurring in the sentencing phase.
A comparison of the nature of the prosecutor's decision at the preguilt trial stage with that at the post-guilt trial remand stage demonstrates that the decision is really the same. In State v. Campbell,
While defendant's ultimate punishment is implicated by the prosecutorial decision to seek death, the decision is more a "charging" decision than a "sentencing" decision since the basic question the prosecution is asked to make is simply whether sufficient evidence exists to take the issue of "mitigating evidence" to the jury. Campbell, at 26; Dictado, at 297-98. The jury and not the prosecutor ultimately determines the defendant's punishment. Cf. State v. Haner,
The "charging" decision made by the Pierce County Prosecutor upon remand in this case is indistinguishable from the charging decision made prior to the preguilt trial stage upheld in Campbell. Prosecutors intending to seek the death penalty are asked by the statute whether they have reason to believe there are sufficient mitigating circumstances to merit leniency. RCW 10.95.040(1). The Pierce County Prosecutor faces the same charging decision in the present case since as a result of this court's decision in Bartholomew I (State v. Bartholomew,
The prosecutor's "charging" power applies equally to cases, such as the present one, which are remanded due to error occurring in the sentencing process. In State v. Pettitt,
Like the habitual criminal statute, the death penalty sentencing phase is a form of sentence enhancement. See State v. Hennings,
Furthermore, although the purpose of the second phase of a death penalty bifurcated trial is sentencing, the penalty phase is analogous to a "new trial" to which prosecutorial discretion attaches. See Bullington v. Missouri,
Bullington, at 438. The Court stressed it was the prosecution's duty to establish "certain facts beyond a reasonable doubt in its quest to obtain the harsher of the two alternative
Bullington, at 444. Accord, State v. Hennings, supra (double jeopardy clause attaches to separate sentencing proceeding in a habitual criminal action).
If the penalty phase is not "sentencing" for double jeopardy purposes, it should not be "sentencing" for purposes of prosecutorial discretion and the charging function. The common denominator is whether the evidence sought to be admitted is within the purview of sentencing, to which rigid constitutional evidentiary limitations do not apply (see M. Frankel, Criminal Sentences 38 (1973); Kadish, Legal Norm and Discretion in the Police and Sentencing Processes, 75 Harv. L. Rev. 904, 916 (1962)), or whether the evidence is presented in an adversarial manner, which is subject to constitutional evidentiary limitation. Since, for purposes of analyzing the prosecutorial charging function, the penalty phase resembles a trial, it should be subject to the traditional rule that elements proved at adversarial trials are subject to the prosecutor's charging discretion. Thus, the prosecutor's discretion, held to be a proper charging function in State v. Campbell,
The majority claims that although prior to the initial seeking of the death penalty the prosecutor must have "reason to believe that there are not sufficient mitigating circumstances to merit leniency" (RCW 10.95.040(1)), under the circumstances in this case, there would be "no guidelines" and hence the prosecutor would have "unfettered discretion". Majority opinion, at 849. I disagree.
In State v. Dictado,
In her appearance before the trial court, the Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney stated:
As is clear from this statement, the decision not to recharge the death penalty was not done arbitrarily but was based on the exact "narrowly focused" (majority opinion, at 848) discretion which is used in the initial charging under RCW 10.95.040(1) and which has specifically been upheld by this court. The same guidelines apply under any circumstances in which a prosecutor determines whether to ask for the death penalty. The views of the majority comport neither with the facts of this case nor with the law.
Once it is demonstrated the prosecutor does not have "unfettered discretion", then the argument of the majority that the prosecutor would "usurp the jury's functions" (majority opinion, at 850) loses all its force.
The court cannot have it both ways: To assert one year the "prosecutor's discretion to seek or not seek the death penalty depends on an evaluation of the evidence of mitigating circumstances" (State v. Dictado, supra at 297, affirmed in the 1984 case of State v. Campbell, supra at 26) and then 12 months later claim the jury must make the decision. Of course, the jury has the function to determine mitigation; but the statutes and this court have specifically held the prosecuting attorney is the one who is entitled to make and must make the initial determination as to whether sufficient evidence exists to persuade the jury and, thus, whether the death penalty should be charged.
The prosecuting attorney can ask for the death penalty only if there is "reason to believe that there are not sufficient mitigating circumstances to merit leniency." RCW 10.95.040(1). If the prosecuting attorney believes evidence does not exist to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that there are not sufficient mitigating circumstances (see RCW 10.95.060(4)), then the prosecuting attorney does not have the discretion to ask for the death penalty. As is made clear from the testimony of the deputy prosecuting attorney, there is reason to believe such evidence does not exist. Therefore, for the prosecuting attorney to ask for the death penalty again would not only be in contravention of the statute but also would raise serious constitutional issues. It is not the prosecuting attorney who has become "unfettered"
UTTER and PEARSON, JJ., concur with DOLLIVER, C.J.
Reconsideration denied February 19, 1986.
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