Case Summaries

Criminal Law And Procedure

July 2018 State of Washington v. Imokawa

On July 24th, 2018 Mr. Thayer and his co-counsel, Mark Muenster, won Dean Imokawa’s appeal of his 2017 vehicular homicide and assault convictions. The opinion was published by the Court of Appeals because it creates new law protecting our rights to due process.

Mr. Thayer has been arguing for many years that the Washington State pattern jury instructions used in vehicular homicide and vehicular assault cases are unfair because they fail to clearly allocate the burden of proof to the state when the circumstances indicate that the accident may have been caused by something or someone else besides the accused. Recognizing the inadequacy of the pattern instructions, Mr. Thayer created his own jury instruction making it clear that the burden of proof is on the state when something or someone else may have caused the accident. In two prior vehicular homicide trials, Mr. Thayer convinced the trial court judge that his improvised instruction should be given to the jury. Both clients were found not guilty.

In Dean Imokawa’s case, the trial judge refused to give Mr. Thayer’s requested instruction. The Court of Appeals held that the failure to do so violated Mr. Imokawa’s due process right to a fair trial, and reversed his convictions. This means legal precedent now exists that will enable lawyers around the state to effectively argue for Mr. Thayer’s instruction in vehicular homicide and vehicular assault cases.

The Columbian news paper article publicizing this case may be found at: A copy of the published opinion may be seen on Mr. Thayer’s website and Facebook page.

September 2017
In September 2017 Mr. Thayer obtained dismissal of a three-count felony drug case charged in the Cowlitz county Superior Court. Our client had an outstanding warrant on an out-of-state felony charge. He was identified by Longview Police entering a room at a local motel. They obtained a key from the manager and used it to make entry. Although they knocked prior to opening the door, they did not announce office and purpose, or give our client a reasonable opportunity to respond to the door before entering, as required by statute. Police have to follow the law like everyone else. When they don’t, the illegally seized evidence must be suppressed, as an incentive to encourage police to obey the law next time. In this case, 130 grams of heroin, 69 grams of methamphetamine, 4 grams of cocaine, a scale, packaging material, and over $8,900 in cash were excluded. Without that evidence the State had to dismiss their case.