Civil Survival Project Et Al. V. State Of Washington Et Al.

2022 | Cited 0 times | Court of Appeals of Washington | November 28, 2022


THE CIVIL SURVIVAL PROJECT, individually and on behalf of its Members and Clients, and Irene Slagle, Christina Zawaideh, Julia Reardon, Adam Kravitz, Laura Yarbrough, and Deighton Boyce, individually and on behalf of the Proposed Plaintiff Class,



STATE OF WASHINGTON, individually, and KING COUNTY and SNOHOMISH COUNTY, individually and on behalf of the Proposed Defendant Class,






SMITH, A.C.J. The Civil Survival Project, on behalf of its members, and

the named plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and a putative class, sued

Washington State and King and Snohomish Counties. They sought the return

and cancellation of legal financial obligations arising from convictions rendered

retroactively unconstitutional by State v. Blake, 197 Wn.2d 170, 481 P.3d 521

(2021). To this end they pleaded theories of unjust enrichment and rescission

and requested injunctive relief under Uniform Declaratory

Judgment Act, ch. 7.24 RCW. The trial court dismissed without deciding whether

to certify the class.

Williams v. City of Spokane, 199 Wn.2d 236, 505 P.3d 91 (2022), controls

the resolution of this appeal. It clarifies, first, that Criminal Rule 7.8 and

analogous rules provide the exclusive remedy to revisit judgment and sentences

and, second, that no dispute exists under the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act

sufficient to permit injunctive relief. We therefore affirm.


In February 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court created a sea

change in our state criminal law when it issued its decision in Blake. Blake held unconstitutional , voiding it

and vacating . 197 Wn.2d at 195. The rippling impacts of this

decision have yet to be fully realized, let alone resolved, and will not likely be for

many years. Because of the interaction between the strict liability drug

possession statute and other criminal statutes such as crimes that incorporate

other crimes as an element 1 or the use of Blake-related convictions when

2 it is possible that more than 100,000

individuals were des-long enforcement of the now

void law. 3 Unspooling Blake for all affected individuals

is, as a result, a considerable task by virtue of both its scale and its complexity.

Counties across the State, coordinating with the State itself, have sought

to address Blake by vacating convictions both proactively and, in response to

reactively. Efforts to ensure that Blake

promise is fulfilled have not, however, been limited to the executive branch of our

government. Our state Supreme Court has actively promulgated changes to

court rules to enable easier access to counsel to address voided convictions. 4

1 See, e.g., RCW 69.50.407 (conspiracy). 2 See generally ch. 9.94A RCW (Sentencing Reform Act). 3 Throughout the course of this opinion, use of the phrases such as Blake Blake sentences Blake convictions, sentences, or LFOs affected the Blake decision, not just those that

were directly the result of strict liability drug possession convictions. 4 These rule changes, only proposals at the outset of this litigation, have now come into effect. See CrR 3.1(b)(2)(B) (appointment of counsel); CrR 7.8(c)(2) (vacation of judgment). As the plaintiffs in this case point out, the amended rules apply in this instance to those serving a sentence as the result of the voided conviction. And our state legislature has passed multiple bills that touch on the issues arising

in Blake , the first only two months after issuance of the decision.

S.B. 5092, 67th Leg., Reg. Sess. (Wash. 2021); ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE S.B.

(ESSB) 5693, 67th Leg., Reg. Sess. (Wash. 2022). The most recent legislative

appropriation directs more than $100 million towards the administrative and other

costs of addressing Blake. ESSB 5693, at 12-13.

Prioritized above all by the various governmental entities responding to

Blake are currently imprisoned individuals for whom vacation of their Blake

conviction would result in immediate release. However, the return and discharge

of legal financial obligations (LFOs) imposed as a part of Blake sentences is also

of great concern. LFOs comprise the gamut of fees, fines, and other financial

assignments related to a criminal conviction. 5 They can range from seemingly

small amounts to considerably larger ones, and can be mandatory or

discretionary on the part of the trial court. Collectively, they can constitute a

severe burden on a population that already faces disproportionate financial

struggles; failure to pay has in some counties

incarceration. 6 Increasingly the subject of scrutiny, the harsh consequences of

5 RCW 9.94A.030(31) specifically sum of money that is ordered by a superior court of the state of Washington for legal financial obligations which may include restitution to the victim, statutorily imposed crime - and costs of defense, fines, and any other financial obligation that is assessed to the offender as a result of a felony conviction used by the plaintiffs and in this memorandum, LFOs are the broader collection of all financial obligations resulting from Blake convictions. 6 Alexes Harris, After Blake, will Washington state repay victims of the war on drugs? CROSSCUT (Apr. 8, 2021) LFOs were referenced in the Blake decision itself, though they were not its focus.

197 Wn.2d at 184.

This lawsuit was initiated on March 11, 2021, only two weeks after Blake

issuance. Brought at first by the Civil Survival Project (CSP) a statewide

nonprofit dedicated to advancing the interests of formerly incarcerated people on behalf of its clients and members, collection of plaintiffs was

supplemented to include Irene Slagle, Christina Zawaideh, Julia Reardon, Adam

Kravitz, Laura Yarbrough, and Deighton Boyce, each of whom has borne Blake

LFOs. This group of individuals was meant to be the named members of a

proposed plaintiff class representing all people affected by Blake LFOs. 7 The

original defendants were the State of Washington and King and

Snohomish Counties. This group, too, would be expanded, eventually

encompassing all Washington counties.

goal is the return of any money paid towards an LFO

downstream of a Blake conviction and the cancellation of any outstanding

obligation. To this end they plead several legal causes of action, all couched

within the framework of a putative class action. First, they bring unjust

enrichment and rescission claims as to both paid and unpaid LFOs. Second,

they request declaratory relief pursuant to the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act

blake-will-washington-state-repay-victims-war-drugs [ 6QV8]. 7 result of any Blake or Blake-Related Convictions, had LFOs imposed against

them and/or paid LFOs that were charged, collected, received, or retained by or on behalf of Defendants a (UDJA). Through this avenue they pursue declarations from the court that:

(1) void and vacated ; (2) they are entitled to

recover Blake LFOs collected by the defendants; (3) defendants must cancel any

unpaid LFO debt; (4) defendants must not reallocate Blake-related payments to

cover other LFO balances; and (5) they request any further equitable relief

deemed proper.

The case comes to us and Snohomish C before

after determining that

Criminal Rule (CrR) 7.8 in superior courts or its equivalent rules in courts of

limited jurisdiction through those claims. It dismissed the request for declaratory relief after

determining that CrR 7.8 and its alternatives are an

motions under CrR 7.8 or its alternatives; it concluded that civil class action is an

improper vehicle.

The plaintiffs appeal. 8

8 Plaintiffs initially moved for direct review from the Supreme Court. Numerous interested parties filed two amicus briefs supporting this effort, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Columbia Legal Services, the Korematsu Center, the King County Department of Public Defense, and the Washington Defenders Association. The Supreme Court denied the motion on May 4 of this year. ANALYSIS

We are presented with two questions. First, whether CSP and the

individual plaintiffs are barred from bringing civil class action claims to address

the burden of their Blake LFOs because CrR 7.8 and its equivalent rules prohibit

other avenues of relief. Second, whether the plaintiffs are nonetheless entitled to

declaratory judgment. We conclude that the Washington Supreme Court

definitively resolved these issues earlier this year with its holding in Williams 9 and

therefore we 199 Wn.2d at 244-49. 10

Standard of Review

. FutureSelect

9 Notably, this opinion was issued only shortly before the Supreme Court


by considering certain factual claims made by the defendants. Regardless of whether the trial court took certain factual claims into account, its order of dismissal is supportable on the basis purely of legal argument, as this analysis section will demonstrate. Second, they urge the court which, at the time they wrote their opening brief, was the Washington State Supreme Court to exercise its inherent Blake-related quandaries. Their argument is brief and cites to two Washington cases State v. Wadsworth, 139 Wn.2d 724, 991 P.2d 80 (2000) and State v. Bennett, 161 Wn.2d 303, 165 P.3d 1241 (2007) neither of which explicitly discusses Both cases do, however, mention certain inherent powers of the

courts. Wadsworth, 139 Wn.2d at 740-42 (referencing inherent powers of the courts control their functions, such as by granting bail, compelling production, regulate the practice of law, and adopt rules of procedure); Bennett, 161 Wn.2d at 317, n.10 with the United States Supreme Court as an analogue). These cases seem to show that a apable of addressing claims does not reside in the Washington Court of Appeals, but rather in the Washington Supreme Court. Portfolio Mgmt., Inc. v. Tremont Grp. Holdings, Inc., 180 Wn.2d 954, 962, 331

Dismissal is warranted only if the court concludes, beyond a

reasonable doubt, the plaintiff[s] cannot prove any set of facts which would justify

recovery FutureSelect, 180 Wn.2d at 962 (internal quotation marks omitted)

(quoting Kinney v. Cook, 159 Wn.2d 837, 842, 154 P.3d 206 (2007)). We view

all facts alleged in the complaint as true. FutureSelect, 180 Wn.2d at 962.

CrR 7.8 as the Exclusive Remedy

The central issue of the case is by what means those burdened by Blake

LFOs may be relieved of that burden and regain any money already paid towards

their LFOs. Plaintiffs contend that a civil class action is an appropriate vehicle,

asserting first, that case law indicating CrR 7.8 is the exclusive remedy to alter

judgment and sentences in criminal cases does not apply and second, that due

process weighs against the inefficiencies of case-by-case resolution required if

CrR 7.8 is the exclusive remedy. Defendants disagree, citing primarily to

Williams, in which the Washington Supreme Court recently addressed the proper

remedy for widespread violations in the criminal context. 199 Wn.2d at 241-47.

We agree with the defendants that Williams controls and conclude that CrR 7.8

does not violate due process.

1. CrR 7.8

CrR 7.8 is the mechanism by which the superior courts provide for relief

from a criminal judgment or order. See CrR 1.1 (scope of criminal rules

encompasses superior courts). It allows vacation of judgments a]pplication

. . . made by motion stating the grounds upon which relief is asked, and supported by affidavits setting forth a concise statement of the facts or errors

upon which the motion is based CrR 7.8(c)(1). The rule was originally adopted

to codify the Supreme s in State v. Scott, 92 Wn.2d 209, 595

P.2d 549 (1979), and its progeny cases that Civil Rule (CR) applied to the

vacation of judgments or orders in criminal cases Purpose statement to

proposed amendment to CrR 7.8, 104 Wn.2d at xxxiv (Official Advance Sheet

No. 13, Jan. 3, 1986).

did not simply copy CR 60 into the criminal

rules, but instead selectively excluded incorporation of those sections of CR 60

not relevant in criminal cases. Purpose statement, 104 Wn.2d at xxxiv-xxxv

(giving example of CR 60(b)(7), providing relief in certain circumstances where

the defendant was served by publication). Of particular concern here, the

committee decided against incorporation of CR 60(c), which states that the rule

does not limit the power of a court to entertain an independent action to relieve a

party from a judgment, order, or proceeding CR 60(c). But the committee also

rejected a proposed subsection (c) that would have explicitly made CrR 7.8 the

exclusive means whereby the court may review a judgment rendered by a

superior court in a criminal case Purpose statement, 104 Wn.2d at xxxv. This

rejection was supported at the time by several arguments: that it exceeded the

scope of the holdings of the Scott cases; that it ignored existing avenues for

collateral attack in RCW 7.36 (Washington State RAP 16.3

(personal restraint petitions); that the committee did not wish to limit the power of criminal context was already narrow. Purpose statement, 104 Wn.2d, supra.


The text of CrR 7.8 does not, therefore, speak directly on the question of

whether it is the exclusive remedy available to those seeking to vacate a criminal

judgment. Case law has developed to address this ambiguity. In a series of

cases from the past decades, the Court of Appeals has repeatedly affirmed that

provisions similar to CrR 7.8 but operative in courts of limited jurisdiction, rather

than superior courts, are the exclusive means to remedy problems in criminal

judgments that emerge from those courts. Doe v. Fife Mun. Court, 74 Wn. App.

444, 451, 874 P.2d 182 (1994) (Division I addressing Criminal Rule for Courts of

Limited Jurisdiction (CrRLJ) 7.8, applicable in courts of limited jurisdiction per

CrRLJ 1.1, dismissing putative class action); Boone v. City of Seattle, No. 76611-

2-I, slip op. at 6, (Wash. Ct. App. July 9, 2018) (unpublished), opinions/pdf/766112.pdf (Division I addressing Civil

Rule for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (CRLJ) 60, applicable in courts of limited

jurisdiction per Infraction Rule for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (IRLJ) 6.7(a) and

IRLJ 1.1(a), dismissing putative class action); Karl v. City of Bremerton, No.

50228-3-II, slip op. at 6-7, (Wash. Ct. App. Feb. 20, 2019) (unpublished), opinions/pdf/D2%2050228-3-

II%20Unpublished%20Opinion.pdf (Division II addressing CRLJ 60, dismissing

putative class action); Williams v. City of Spokane, No. 36508-5-III, slip op. at 16-

17 (Wash. Ct. App. June 18 2020) (unpublished), opinions/pdf/365085_unp.pdf (Division III addressing CRLJ 60, dismissing

putative class action). 11

Doe, the first of these cases, relied on by the others and holding that

CrRLJ 7.8 proceedings in courts of limited

jurisdiction excludes other remedies, ruled on the basis of three factors: (1) the

(2) CrRLJ 1.1 and 1.2 indicate respectively the relevant all every ; and (3) CrRLJ 1.2, directing the rules be interpreted

secure simplicity in procedure, fairness in administration, effective justice, and

the elimination of unjustifiable expense and delay vacation, which more effectively employed judicial resources. 74 Wn. App.

at 453-55. The court wrote when rules are set out in detail in criminal rules,

they need not be supplemented by civil rules t 453 (citing State

v. Pawlyk, 115 Wn.2d 457, 476-77, 800 P.2d 338 (1990)). 12

Williams, which was decided earlier this year, saw this line of precedent

affirmed for the first time by the Supreme Court. 199 Wn.2d at 244 Williams

11 for a reasoned decision, cite or discuss unpubli

12 In their opening brief, the plaintiffs contend that Orwick v. City of Seattle, 103 Wn.2d 249, 692 P.2d 793 (1984) stands for the broad proposition that a -wide violations rights Doe. But Orwick instead stands for the proposition that the superior courts have jurisdiction over claims for equitable relief from certain systemwide violations arising in courts of limited jurisdiction. 103 Wn.2d at 252. The jurisdiction of the court is not in question here, only the available paths to relief. would have us reject the analysis of all three divisions of the Court of Appeals

and hold that Boone, Karl, and Williams were wrongly decided. We decline It

also added another pillar to Doe (b) applicable

in civil proceedings in courts of limited jurisdiction which references the court

when describing who may relieve a party of a final judgment, refers not to any

court but specifically to the court that issued the underlying judgment Williams,

199 Wn.2d at 242-43. It also emphasized that the purposes of judicial efficiency

with which Doe was concerned applied just as directly in Williams. 199 Wn.2d

at 244. In both, the plaintiffs sought to bring class actions in superior court to

vacate a large number of allegedly erroneous judgments originating in courts of

limited jurisdiction. Williams, 199 Wn.2d at 238 (concerning speeding tickets);

Doe, 74 Wn. App. at 446-47 (concerning deferred prosecution for alcohol related

criminal offenses). Williams, quoting Doe that judicial resources are

employed more efficiently if the party who asserts a judgment or order as being

void is first required to address its concerns to the court that issued the judgment

or order. 199 Wn.2d at 244 (quoting 74 Wn. App. at 454).

3. Applicability of Precedent to CrR 7.8

Williams the court, 13 even if not

extended to CrR 7.8, means at a minimum that any of the

regarding Blake LFOs springing from courts of limited jurisdiction cannot be

addressed in the first instance by this class action in superior court. 199 Wn.2d

at 242-43. Such claims would instead have to be severed from it for individual

13 Which appears in subsection (b) of both CrRLJ 7.8 and CRLJ 60. treatment in the relevant court of limited jurisdiction under CrRLJ 7.8 and

CRLJ 60. The question then becomes whether CrR 7.8 should be read like

CRLJ 60 and CrRLJ 7.8 in courts of limited jurisdiction as the exclusive remedy

to vacate judgments in superior court. We conclude that there is not a sufficient

basis to deviate from the reasoning of Doe, Boone, Karl, and Williams.

The difference between the text of the relevant rules CrR 7.8, CrRLJ 7.8,

and CRLJ 60 is negligible and does not provide a basis to read CrR 7.8

separately. The Supreme Court has already dismissed as irrelevant the

differences between CrRLJ 7.8 and CRLJ 60. Williams, 199 Wn.2d at 244 (the

two rules are not distinguishable in any relevant way And CrR 7.8 and

CrRLJ 7.8 are nearly identical. 14 Given that, Williams language of CRLJ 60 and CrRLJ 7.8 the court

that issued the underlying judgment is controlling; it applies equally to CrRLJ 7.8

and the textually indistinguishable CrR 7.8. 199 Wn.2d at 242-43.

Hoping to avoid this reading of CrR 7.8, the plaintiffs make several

arguments in an attempt to distinguish Williams and Doe. First, they invoke the

above-mentioned Purpose statement regarding the rule-drafters discussion about

whether to include an exclusion provision. They point out that CrRLJ 7.8 and

CRLJ 60 did not have equivalent notes for the Doe and Williams

14 Save for two differences, neither relevant. First, procedures for review found in CrRLJ 7.8(a), (c)(2) and CrR 7.8(a), (c)(2). Second, CrRLJ 7.8(b) reads a] motion under this section does not affect the finality of the judgment or suspend its operation while CrR 7.8(b) reads, in similar paa] motion under section (b) does not affect the finality of the judgment or suspend its operation consider. This is true, and provides support for the conclusion that the drafters of

CrR 7.8 did not wish to address whether CrR 7.8 was exclusive. CRLJ 60;

CrRLJ 7.8. But regardless of the strength of this argument, we are bound by

Williams n independent unambiguous basis for

exclusivity, which is just as forceful regarding CrR 7.8 as it is regarding CRLJ 60

and CrRLJ 7.8. See State v. Ervin, 169 Wn.2d 815, 820, 239 P.3d 354 (2010)

(courts interpreting statutes look to legislative history and other guidelines of

construction only to resolve ambiguous language).

Second, the plaintiffs contend that Williams and Doe are distinguishable

because they concerned relief from allegedly statutorily invalid municipal

judgments imposing traffic fines facially unconstitutional convictions are

different 15 Citing to language in State v. Jennings, 199 Wn.2d 53, 67, 502 P.3d

1255 (2022), calling Blake constitutionally invalid CrR 7.8 process is therefore not a prerequisite for relief, that the effect of

Jennings has been to in some fashion already invalidate Blake convictions. 16

This is not Jennings CrR 7.8. Jennings held only a] prior conviction that is constitutionally

15 Wash. Court of Appeals oral argument, Civil Survival Project v. Washington, No. 84015-1-I (July 13, 2022), at 20 mins., 15 sec., audio recording -1-court-of-appeals-2022071042/?eventID=2022071042. 16 Wash. Court of Appeals oral argument, supra, at 1 min, 10 sec. Wn.2d at 67 (citing State v. Ammons, 105 Wash.2d 175, 187-88, 713 P.2d 719


Meanwhile, CrR 7.8, applies to the reconsideration of constitutionally invalid convictions. It explicitly

contemplate A defendant is

entitled to relief under subsection (i) where the person . . . is serving a sentence

for a conviction under a statute determined to be void, invalid, or unconstitutional

by [the courts]. through the amendment process initiated in the wake of Blake. Jennings cannot

be read as broadly as plaintiffs suggest.

Third, the plaintiffs assert that the sheer scope of Blake

judicial system create different concerns of judicial efficiency than those present

in Doe and Williams. This argument, though, however true it may or may not be,

cannot rebut Williams textual reading the court Nor

does it sit well with Williams conclusion that individualized vacations in separate

courts serve the purposes of efficiency. 199 Wn.2d at 244. Moreover, Williams

merits, as discussed below in the context of their due process arguments.

We therefore hold that Williams controls. CrR 7.8 is the exclusive

procedural means by which to seek refund and cancellation of superior court

imposed Blake LFOs, just as CrRLJ 7.8 and CRLJ 60 are the exclusive means in

courts of limited jurisdiction. 4. Due Process and Nelson v. Colorado

Plaintiffs next argue that Nelson v. Colorado establishes that requiring

those with Blake LFOs to individually file motions under CrR 7.8 or its equivalents

is a violation of due process. ___ U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 1249, 197 L. Ed. 2d 611

(2017). We disagree. Nelson, though it also concerned the mechanisms by

which wrongly convicted individuals could recoup LFO payments made to the

State, addressed a wholly different, and considerably more onerous, procedural


Nelson saw the United States Supreme Court applying the Mathews v.

Eldridge 17 balancing test to a Colorado post-conviction statute. 137 S. Ct. at

1255. The Mathews factors determine whether a process deprives individuals of

protected rights by looking to: (1) the private interest affected by the official

used; and (3) the governmental interest at stake. 424 U.S. at 335. Colorado

required defendants whose convictions had already been reversed to [their] innocence by clear and convincing evidence to obtain the refund of costs,

fees, and restitution paid pursuant to an invalid Nelson, 137 S. Ct.

at 1253-55. The opinion in Nelson focused on the injustice done by placing the

burden on defendants to prove their innocence when their presumption of

at 1255-

To comport with due processa State may not impose anything

17 424 U.S. 319, 96 S. Ct. 893, 47 L. Ed. 2d 18 (1976). more than minimal procedures on the refund of exactions dependent upon a

conviction subsequently invalidated Nelson, 137 S. Ct. at 1258.

Nelson did not concern whether prohibiting LFO recovery by means of a

class action violated due process. It addressed the permissibility of placing a

significant burden of proof on individuals whose judgments had been reversed,

requiring them to demonstrate innocence even where individualized

determinations as to their guilt had already been made and reversed. Though

Nelson does not set forth precisely the sort of procedures it might

allow, CrR 7.8 and related rules which require only a motion and affidavits

stating the facts upon which that motion is made 18 do not place such a burden

on defendants as was present in Nelson, and could not easily be more minimal.

To the extent that the plaintiffs here argue that placing any onus on defendants to

initiate the return of their own fees violates due process, Nelson does not support


18 differences italicized, read:

CrR 7.8(c)(1): Application shall be made by motion stating the grounds upon which relief is asked, and supported by affidavits setting forth a concise statement of the facts or errors upon which the motion is based CrRLJ 7.8 Application shall be made by motion stating the grounds upon which relief is asked, and supported by affidavits setting forth a concise statement of the facts or errors upon which the motion is based CRLJ 60 Application shall be made by motion filed in the cause stating the grounds upon which relief is asked, and supported by the affidavit of the applicant or his attorney setting forth a concise statement of the facts or errors upon which the motion is based, and if the moving party be a defendant, the facts constituting a defense to the action or proceeding. 5. Relative Efficiency of CrR 7.8 and a Class Action

In this context, plaintiffs and amici spend considerable time urging that an

approach to refunding and cancelling LFOs based in CrR 7.8 offends due

process because it is so inefficient that a number of Blake-affected individuals

will ultimately receive refunds too late or not at all. Here, the relative merits of

refunding Blake LFOs through a class action or an approach based in CrR 7.8

are relevant under Mathews. Plaintiffs and amici compellingly argue that CrR 7.8

is an imperfect method of refunding and cancelling Blake LFOs, but they do not

attempt to show how a civil class action would do better. In fact they do not, in

any comparative analysis, demonstrate how a class action is a process less likely

to cause erroneous constitutional deprivations.

Those seeking LFO repayment will require a similar amount of individual

treatment even through a class action. Their volume of fines is individual, will

have been paid to different degrees, and those fines may be interwoven with the

requirements of other convictions. For some, revisiting a judgment may leave

them open to re-prosecution at the discretion of the local prosecutor. Plaintiffs

have not suggested a manner in which individuals will be able to receive

personalized advice on how to navigate this thicket more readily in the midst of a

class action than if they file CrR 7.8 motions. 19 Similarly, though the plaintiffs

express concern about the burden placed on pro se individuals under CrR 7.8,

19 Class actions typically resolve issues that are shared similarly among there are questions of law or fact common to the class nature of each affected per -burden makes it difficult to imagine what

question of law or fact is truly common among putative class members. they do not explain how this burden would be alleviated by a class action, which

requires class members to either accept or reject whatever class relief is ordered,

typically without aid of counsel.

The class action approach has drawbacks even aside from its one-size-

fits-all treatment of the problems associated with refunding Blake LFOs. Some of

the funds generated by a class action would undoubtedly have to go towards

paying class counsel, representatives, and expenses. And a class action

focusing exclusively on refunding and cancelling LFOs risks complicating efforts

down the line by affected individuals to vacate convictions.

The end result of a class action, as opposed to individualized vacation,

may therefore be the provision of less individualized advice, the return of less of

t , and complications in other Blake

proceedings. These are not indicia of a process that is definitively more efficient

and less likely to cause further constitutional harm than the individualized

approach of CrR 7.8

On the other hand, a civil class action enjoys one major benefit: it would

require the defendants to notify the proposed class members of their right to the

return of their paid LFOs and cancellation of outstanding debts. That the putative

class receives this sort of notice is certainly the goal. However, it is hardly clear

that a class action would be more efficient in this regard than the efforts already

funded by the State, which has devoted millions of dollars to public outreach

about Blake. ESSB 5693, § 116(8). Plaintiffs do not attempt to explain how

providing notice would be practically easier through a class action. The same prudential concerns would be present, but addressed through a different process

with purposes orthogonal to the existing efforts, creating risk of confusion.

P ,

particularly regarding pro se individuals and the possibility that placing an onus

on affected individuals to bring their own motions will result in racially disparate

outcomes. But they have not shown that a class action is, on balance, a more

efficient process by which to refund Blake LFOs or one less likely to cause

similar harms. They have not demonstrated that the difference in outcomes

between the two approaches is so stark as to find application of CrR 7.8 a due

process violation under Mathews, overriding the

We conclude that the use of CrR 7.8 and its equivalent rules as the

exclusive remedy by which to revisit Blake LFOs does not violate due process. 20

Availability of Declaratory Relief

Plaintiffs finally argue that even if CrR 7.8 is the exclusive mechanism to

vacate criminal convictions affected by Blake, they are entitled to equitable and

injunctive relief under the UDJA. Williams speaks on this issue as it did on the

exclusivity of CrR 7.8, saying that no dispute exists to confer standing under the

20 CSP asserts that it, as an organizational plaintiff, has no means to file a CrR 7.8 motion, but nonetheless has standing to bring this lawsuit. Associational non-profit corporation or association which shows that one or more of its members are specifically injured by a government action [to] represent those members in proceedings for judicial review. Washington Educ. Ass'n v. Shelton Sch. Dist. No. 309, 93 Wn.2d 783, 791, 613 P.2d 769 (1980) (quoting Save a Valuable Env v. City of Bothell, 189 Wn.2d 862, 867, 576 P.2d 401 (1978)). To the extent that associational standing is based in the standing of its members to bring actions, CSP cannot assert the ability to bring a civil claim when none of its members would individually enjoy recourse through a similar procedure. UDJA. 199 Wn.2d at 247-49. We therefore conclude that the trial court did not

err 21

To have standing to bring a claim under the UDJA an

actual, present and existing dispute, or the mature seeds of one, as distinguished

from a possible, dormant, hypothetical, speculative, or moot disagreement. Williams, 199 Wn.2d at 248-49 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting

League of Educ. Voters v. State, 176 Wn.2d 808, 816, 295 P.3d 743 (2013)).

The existence of a final judgment closes the underlying contested case,

foreclosing standing on the basis of that dispute. Williams, 199 Wn.2d at 248. In

Williams, for a new dispute to arise sufficient to enable standing for the purposes

of the UDJA, reverse any ticket penalty by

bringing a motion to vacate in the municipal court and thereby create a new

dispute. 199 Wn.2d at 248 (quoting Williams, No. 36508-5-III, slip op. at 28.).

The court addressed the possibility that Williams might have standing as a class

representative for putative class members who might meet this requirement.

21 because To support this proposition, it cited Grandmaster Sheng-Yen Lu v. King County, 110 Wn. App. 92, 98 n. 3, 38 P.3d 1040 (2002). Grandmaster relies in turn on Reeder v. King County, 57 Wn.2d 563, 564, 358 P.2d 810 (1961) (holding t a plaintiff is not entitled to relief by way of a declaratory judgment if, otherwise, he has a completely adequate remedy available to him ). But Reeder has been superseded by CR 57, t]he existence of another adequate remedy does not preclude a judgment for declaratory relief in cases where it is appropriate New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC v. City of Clyde Hill, 185 Wn.2d 594, 605, 374 P.3d 151 (2016) (recognizing supersession). Because we may affirm on any bas dismissal of these claims has no impact on appeal. See Bavand v. OneWest Bank, 196 Wn. App. 813, 825, 385 P.3d 233 (2016). Williams as the only named plaintiff, Williams


199 Wn.2d at 248 (quoting Wash. Educ. Ass'n v. Shelton Sch. Dist. No. 309, 93

Wn.2d 783, 790, 613 P.2d 769 (1980)).

The same holds true here. No party demonstrates the existence of a

dispute recognizable under the UDJA.

The plaintiffs argue that even if they lack standing under the normal

analysis, they may alternatively enjoy recourse to the UDJA because the dispute

pertains to an issue of major public importance. For this proposition they cite to

League of Education Voters, 176 Wn.2d at 816. There, the court wrote 176

Wn.2d at 816 (quoting Nollette v. Christianson, 115 Wn.2d 594, 598, 800 P.2d

359 (1990)). Applying this exception to the normal rules of standing is

discretionary on the part of the court. Snohomish County v. Anderson, 124

Wn.2d 834, 840, 881 P.2d 240 (1994) (challenging constitutionality of Growth

Management Act). Whether an issue is one of major public importance depends

on the extent to which public interest would be enhanced by reviewing the case City of Edmonds v. Bass, 16 Wn. App. 2d 488, 496, 481 P.3d 596 (2021)

(challenging city gun storage ordinance).

Here, we conclude that the public interest would not be enhanced by

reviewing the case and so decline to extend standing under the public

importance doctrine. Unlike other cases that apply the doctrine, this dispute is not the sort of policy that lends not lends itself to quick and easy resolution

through a legal ruling. It instead presents complex, fact-dependent questions of

public administration in an area that has already received significant attention

from many aspects of our state government. To review this case, permitting

declaratory judgment and its unclear consequences, would not enhance the

public interest but instead further complicate an already complicated problem.

Because the trial court correctly concluded that CrR 7.8 and similar rules

are the exclusive means for plaintiffs to address their claims and because the

plaintiffs are not entitled to declaratory relief, dismissal was appropriate.

We affirm.


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