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High Court Hears Case of Multiple Offender at Gonzaga

Paige Browning
Spokane Public Radio

Washington’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments at Gonzaga University’s law school Thursday. Students and community members grabbed seats to watch three hearings, one of which originated in Spokane. Justice Mary Fairhurst attended Gonzaga as an undergrad and law student, and says they try to take the court on the road three times a year. She says the case of State of Washington versus Jason Allen Graham, a Spokane man, was a good fit to bring on the road.

Fairhurst: “If there are cases from the area that would be something that we would look to… We also look for cases that might have a single issue, so it would be easier for the audience to get gist of what is at issue...”

Graham’s case was a lesson in how the court applies the law. In 2002 he was involved in a police car chase and shootout in downtown Spokane, in which he was the only person injured. Graham was convicted of 10 crimes, and is serving an 81-year prison sentence.

Now the court is considering whether he should be granted a reduced sentence, below the standard sentence for his crimes. This would mean a multiple violent offender would be eligible for what the state calls an exceptional sentence. The court’s opinion will be announced this winter.

Dozens of Spokane students and residents the legal counsels argue in front of the court, then had a chance to address the justices in a question-and-answer session at the end.

Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio

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