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Ang v. Martin
Washington Supreme Court
114 P.3d 637 (2005)
Jessy and Editha Ang (plaintiffs) were arrested and charged with 18 counts of bank and tax fraud. The Angs hired attorneys Richard Hansen and Michael Martin (defendants) to defend them against the charges. Hansen and Martin recommended on several occasions that the Angs take a plea deal, but the Angs declined. During trial, Hansen and Martin suggested that the Angs take an offered deal to plead guilty to two of the counts, and allegedly someone told Jessy that Editha might be sexually assaulted if she ended up going to prison. The Angs reluctantly agreed to the plea deal. However, the Angs then consulted with attorney Monte Hester to get a second opinion. Hester believed that the plea deal did not benefit the Angs and helped the Angs successfully withdraw their plea agreements. The Angs then went to trial again and were ultimately acquitted on all 18 counts. The Angs sued Hansen and Martin for legal malpractice for having pressured them into taking the two-count plea deal. During the trial on the legal-malpractice claim, the court instructed the jury that in order to establish their legal-malpractice claim, the Angs needed to prove that they were (1) eventually acquitted of the charges in the plea deal and (2) actually innocent of the alleged conduct. The jury found that the Angs had failed to prove that they were actually innocent, and the trial court dismissed their malpractice claim. The Angs appealed, arguing that the actual-innocence instruction was an error.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Owens, J.)
Dissent (Chambers, J.)
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