Changes in Washington Practice Report (#16)/ Court citations to Washington Practice

May 7, 2014

Washington State LawThis is installment #16 in a continuing series of Changes in Washington Practice Reports.

It is interesting to consider how the Washington courts cite to various volumes of Washington Practice, and how these volumes seem to enter into judicial analysis and decision making.

A brief survey indicates that such citations are widespread. An informal sampling suggests that such cites often refer to definitions of terms and concepts; analysis and interpretation of statutes and cases;  and explanations that bring together various types of issues.

This usage also suggests that practicing attorneys might make use of Washington Practice in the same way when preparing written arguments.

As an example, consider a recent case before the Court of Appeals (2014 WL 1266304 (Wash.App.Div.3) ) in which several cites are included to two different volumes of Washington Practice.

This case involved someone who borrowed money, with the loan secured by a deed of trust. The loan payments stopped, and foreclosure was sought by the bank.

The borrower challenged the foreclosure by arguing that the bank was not the holder of the note. The trial court entered summary judgment for the bank, and an appeal ensued.

Tegland’s Evidence Law was cited by the court (to volume 5C of Washington Practice), regarding the identification of documents. The court extracted the bolded sentence from the following explanation:

“A business record must be identified before it is admissible….Identification by a custodian may be sufficient even though the custodian was hired after the record was made. Identification by a supervisor may be sufficient….” (section 803.42)

This citation involved the interpretation of a statute, with reference to case law. This material thus fell into the category of “analysis and interpretation of statutes and cases”.

Several other references were made to Real Estate Transactions by Stoebuck and Weaver (volume 18 of Washington Practice).The court drew upon the following bolded materials:

“The statutory deed of trust is a form of mortgage…. It is a three-party transaction in which land is conveyed by a borrower…to a trustee…who holds title in trust for the lender…as security for…a loan…. Though on its face the deed conveys title to the trustee…it is an equitable mortgage….”(section 17.3)

“The originating financer generally continues to act as agent for collection and servicing of the loan….” (section 18.31)

These references included both the “definitions of terms and concepts” and the “analysis and interpretation of statutes and cases”.

When attorneys are trying to decide how to incorporate references to Washington Practice into their arguments to the court, Methods of Practice (volumes 1 to 1C) can provide useful assistance. Excerpts from all of the volumes of Washington Practice are included in an easily-searchable format, so that potential cites may be quickly located. The individual volumes of interest may then be examined for the needed details.

Postings on this blog may also be searched and used as a source of references to potential volumes.

And other blogs can also help frame legal questions in different ways, suggesting additional types of linkages to Washington Practice. Examples of such web pages are the ACA Blog and MLO Blog, both by this author.