Washington Legal Defense
Free Consultation
Tribunals Get 150+ Years of Combined Litigation Experience on Your Side
Hester Law Group


On June 29, 2006, the Washington Supreme Court rendered a decision once again upholding open trials for the public. In State v. Modest, Washington Supreme Court Docket No. 76458-1 filed June 29, 2006, the court held that the trial court committed an error of constitutional magnitude when it held that a courtroom be fully closed to a co-defendant and the public during a joint trial without satisfying the requirements set forth in State v. Bone-Club, 128 Wn.2nd 254, 906 P.2d 325 (1995).

Modest involved a trial of two co-defendants. Counsel for one co-defendant had requested, in addition to a motion to sever, a closed courtroom hearing in order to discuss a prior negotiated agreement involving testimony against his co-defendant, Easterling. Subsequently, the co-defendant pleaded guilty while agreeing to testify against Easterling.

In reversing the conviction, the Supreme Court noted that “although the public trial right may not be absolute, protection of this basic constitutional right clearly calls for a trial court to resist a closure motion except under the most unusual circumstances.” Citing Bone-Club at 259. The trial court is required to weigh five requirements prior to closing the courtroom under any situation. In ruling against the state on the admittedly unique question, the court found that while the co-defendant’s motion to sever was independent of Easterling’s, it nevertheless involved Easterling’s right to a public trial under the Washington Constitution.

Moreover, the court noted that fairness of the process was undermined because Easterling was precluded from arguing for or against the motion to sever during the closed proceeding. Regardless of whether Easterling’s right was violated, the court still noted a violation of the public’s right to an open trial under Article 1, Section 10 of the Washington Constitution. The court noted that the trial court’s decision ran contrary to the position that has been in existence for decades that strictly protects the public and the press’s right to view the administration of justice. Additionally, the court found that no decision such as this could be considered trivial or de minimis and as a result Easterling’s conviction was reversed and remanded for a new trial.

The Washington Supreme Court has again made it clear that courts need to go through the balancing tests as required by prior decisions. Closing the courtroom to the public will not be tolerated absent unwarranted circumstances and absent balancing the required factors. There is a presumption that courtrooms remain open. It’s also important that attorneys approach these matters under fundamental principals of fairness for their client and the public. This is a matter that applies to both civil and criminal matters. All practitioners need to ensure that proper procedures are followed or risk having a civil verdict reversed.


Success Stories

  • If he said he was going to do something he did it. He has integrity.

    “Wayne Fricke is a terrific lawyer who knows the law. The following are only several of many ways Mr. Fricke supported me during my time of crisis: 1. Explained the charges against me in a manner that ...”

    - Former Client
  • He always exceeds expectations.

    “Mr. Fricke has been our family lawyer for about 5 years. He has done an amazing job representing my family and I. He always exceeds expectations and informs us on everything going on.”

    - Jen
  • He, at no time, treated me as though I was guilty.

    “I was accused of domestic violence and need a Lawyer to defend me. Not knowing who to hire I started with Mr. K.W. This lawyer did not seem to believe in my innocence and I was looking at 3 to 5 ...”

    - Craig
  • Mr. Fricke had his office call me weekly for updates.

    “A few years ago, I was involved in a car accident. Due to my injuries, I hired an attorney who seemingly disappeared. I was in crisis after calling the court and finding out my case had been dismissed ...”

    - Sharyl
  • He is always honest and straight forward.

    “I hired Lance Hester to help me with 2 different legal matters. One was a felony criminal case and the other was a family law issue. In the felony criminal case this individual had everything to lose ...”

    - Former Client

Proven Results

  • Reduced Sentence Drug Crime
  • Case Dismissed Multiple Counts of Child Exploitation
  • Case Dismissed Domestic Violence
  • Four Felony Charges Dismissed Four Felony Counts
  • Reduced Sentence Drug Distribution
  • Vacated Conviction 4th Degree Assault
  • Case Dismissed Possession of Stolen Property
  • Two Restraining Orders Granted Anti-harassment Orders
  • Federal Court Success Federal Probation Violation
  • Case Dismissed Rape

Why Choose the Hester Law Group?

  • Accessible to Clients

    We understand the urgency clients have when they need an attorney. We are available  24/7 to help you.

  • We Truly Care

    We feel honored to help someone through the toughest time they will ever go through.

  • Personalized Approach

    At Hester Law Group, we use a personal approach that best suits the needs of our clients.

  • Unparalleled Experience

    We have been a successful team for two decades and have over 130 years of combined experience.

We're Available 24/7

Get Started on Your Defense Today
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.