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Hawkins v. King County

Washington Court of Appeals
602 P.2d 361 (1979)


Facts

Michael Hawkins (plaintiff) was arrested for marijuana possession. Richard Sanders (defendant) was Hawkins’s court-appointed attorney. When Sanders and Hawkins met, Hawkins told Sanders that he wished to be released from jail on bail. During this meeting, Hawkins did not make any violent threats or reveal any plans to commit crimes. Later that day, Sanders spoke with Palmer Smith, an attorney Hawkins’s mother had retained for assistance in having Hawkins hospitalized or civilly committed. Smith told Sanders in person and later in writing that Hawkins was mentally ill and dangerous. A psychiatrist who asserted that Hawkins was dangerously ill and should not be released from custody also contacted Sanders. At Hawkins’s bail hearing, Sanders did not volunteer any information about Hawkins’s alleged mental illness or violent tendencies. Hawkins was granted bail. Shortly after his release, Hawkins assaulted his mother, attempted suicide, and was gravely injured as a result. Hawkins and his mother sued the state, the county, and a psychiatric facility. They later added Sanders as a defendant, claiming that he had committed malpractice by failing to disclose information regarding Hawkins’s mental illness. The trial court granted Sanders’s motion for summary judgement to be dismissed as a defendant from the case. Hawkins appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Swanson, J.)

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