Washington v. Solis-Diaz (Majority)Annotate this Case
Guadalupe Solis-Diaz Jr. seeks review of a Court of Appeals decision vacating his sentence a second time and remanding for resentencing but declining to disqualify the sentencing judge. In 2007, 16-year-old Solis-Diaz was tried as an adult in connection with a drive-by shooting in Centralia and was convicted of six counts of first degree assault, each with a firearm enhancement; one count of drive-by shooting; and one count of second degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Judge Nelson Hunt imposed a standard range sentence of 1,111 months (92.6 years) of imprisonment. After his judgment and sentence was affirmed on direct appeal, Solis-Diaz filed a personal restraint petition challenging his sentence. The Court of Appeals ordered resentencing on the basis that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to obtain a sentencing report and properly inform the trial court that SolisDiaz's case had been automatically declined to adult court as a result of his age and the nature of the charges. At resentencing, again before Judge Hunt, the State noted recent changes in the law that allowed the judge to consider an offender's youth in deciding whether to impose an exceptional downward sentence, and it asked Judge Hunt to conduct an individualized determination of the propriety of an exceptional downward sentence for Solis-Diaz. Judge Hunt again imposed a prison sentence of 1,111 months, but in doing so, he commented on the Court of Appeals' holding that defense counsel had been ineffective in connection with the original sentencing. He found it "insulting" for the court to postulate that he would be "so ignorant, lazy, or stupid as to not know or inquire" why a teenage offender was in adult court, and that it was particularly insulting that the court presupposed that he did not "review the file or was so behind in the law not to know ... about the automatic adult jurisdiction" in Washington, and was even "ludicrous" given the judge's years practicing as a prosecutor and defense attorney and his work on juvenile justice issues. Solis-Diaz's request to disqualify Judge Hunt from presiding over resentencing was still declined. "Judge Hunt will be asked to exercise discretion on remand regarding the propriety of a sentence he has twice imposed, and the record reflects that he not only has strong opinions on sentencing generally and juvenile sentencing in particular, but also suggests he has already reached a firm conclusion about the propriety of a mitigated sentence in this case and may not be amenable to considering mitigating evidence with an open mind." As such, the Supreme Court reversed with respect to resentencing only, and remanded for further proceedings.