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State v. Harvill

Washington Supreme Court
234 P.3d 1166 (2010)


Facts

Law enforcement used an informant, Michael Nolte, to make a controlled purchase of cocaine from an acquaintance, Joshua Harvill (defendant). Nolte telephoned Harvill more than 10 times in the days preceding the transaction. During the calls, Nolte’s tone was aggressive and intimidating. Harvill received four calls the day of the sale while he and his family were at a restaurant. Harvill was afraid Nolte would immediately harm him or his family if he did not sell the drugs to Nolte. After the transaction, Harvill was arrested. The State of Washington (plaintiff) charged Harvill with sale of cocaine. At trial, Harvill admitted to selling the drugs but claimed he did so out of fear of Nolte. Harvill testified that Nolte, who was physically bigger than Harvill, had a reputation for harming other men. At the close of the evidence, the trial court denied Harvill’s request for a jury instruction on duress because Nolte never verbally threatened to harm Harvill. A jury convicted Harvill, and he appealed. The court of appeals affirmed. The Washington Supreme granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stephens, J.)

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