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State v. Michael Leon Shemesh (No. 91750-7)

Significant constitutional rights and public interests are impacted when there is a systemic breakdown in a county's public defense system that cause a criminal defendant to be incarcerated more than three years awaiting trial.


Washington State Supreme Court


Mr. Shemesh was arraigned on August 12, 2009 with multiple counts of rape, molestation, and possession of pornography. His case did not proceed to trial until November 26, 2012. He was incarcerated throughout the pendency of his case and the question of bail was never revisited. While his case was pending three attorneys were removed from his case by the county OPD Director without consultation with the attorneys and the court disqualified a fourth attorney.

WACDL and other amici argued that the WSSC should accept review because Mr Shemesh's case presented an egregious example of pretrial delay caused by a systemic breakdown in the public defender system in that the county OPD failed to control contractor's caseloads, failed to approve expert expenditures, and failed to fairly compensate counsel for a six~ count felony sexual assault trial. And, perhaps most significantly, the county had no concern for continuity of representation, assigning five different attorneys to represent Mr. Shemesh without regard to the negative impact on the defense and on the attorney~client relationship.


9/30/15: WSSC Denied Reivew

WACDL Amicus Author

Suzanne Elliott

Appellate Author

Marie Trombley

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