compiled by David E. Ortman
1. To swear or not to swear…
“…the Commission chairman finally
stated: ‘We are not going to swear the
witnesses. It is our decision. We want
the facts in the case so that we can make
an honest decision.’”
Nirk v. Kent Civil Serv. Comm’n, 30 Wn. App.
214, 216 (1981).
2. Why won’t my attorney return my
“Before sentencing, the court appointed
new counsel for Flores because his trial
counsel was incarcerated.”
State v. Andrew Michael Flores, Court of Appeals, Division II (27169-9-II, Docket No:
001010362), Nov. 1, 2002.
3. Why [questionable] federal dis-
trict court judges want to be [unques-
tionable] federal appeal court judges:
“Besides, a [Federal] District Court decision would be of questionable authority
at any rate.”
Clawon, et al. v. Grays Harbor College District
No. 2., et al., 148 Wn.2d 528, 542 (2003).
4. Wha’ happened?
“As already noted, the question of what
actually happened is irrelevant to the
determination of this question.”
Hemenway v. Miller, 116 Wn.2d 725, 741
5. We apologize!
FN6. “We apologize for the convoluted
English but this is the language of the
UCC [Uniform Commercial Code].”
Bank of America v. Huber, 115 Wn. App. 368, 381
6. What time is it?
“Time is of the essence of a contract
whenever it appears to have been the
intention of the parties to make time of
University Properties, Inc. v. Moss, 63 Wn.2d
619, 621–22 (1964).
7. The Civil War only took four years.
“The plaintiffs sought damages on numerous grounds. Their cases were consolidated and discovery occurred from
1993 to 1998.”
Tegman, et al. v. Accident & Medical Investigations, Inc., et al., 150 Wn.2d 102, 106–07 (2003).
BONUS: All-time favorite run-on sentence
“Appellants answered the complaint, alleging that they are the owners of eighty acres over which said Woods creek flows,
and that the diversion of the waters at the place proposed would greatly damage them; that during the year 1891 said
Hewitt went upon the land now owned by appellants, and marked out a right of way and constructed a ditch through the
land for the purpose of diverting the waters of said stream, claiming to do so under and by virtue of the conveyance from
Woods, heretofore mentioned; that shortly thereafter said Hewitt abandoned said right of way and ditch, and proceeded
to construct water works at a point five miles distant from the Woods creek location, and that such works have ever since
been used to supply water to the city of Everett; that since March, 1892, no attempt has been made to divert and use the
waters of Woods creek until about August 1, 1902, when respondent, claiming as the assignee of the rights of Hewitt,
attempted to lay out a new pipe line, which was separate and distinct from the line originally laid out by Hewitt, running
through the land on a different route; that when the aforesaid instrument between Woods and Hewitt was executed, it was
the intention of the parties that only sufficient water should be diverted from Woods creek to supply the town of Lowell,
which then contained about one hundred inhabitants, is now a place of about five hundred people, and is entirely separate
and distinct from the city of Everett; that the principal purpose of respondent in constructing the pipe line across appellant’s lands, and in diverting the water of said stream, is to supply the city of Everett with water; that if only such a quantity
of water were diverted as would be necessary to supply the town of Lowell, it would not materially damage appellants, but
that the diversion to supply the city of Everett will materially damage them and will render said stream valueless to them;
that at the time this action was commenced, respondent had not acquired the riparian rights below appellants’ land, and
that it has no right to divert the waters at that point along or above their lands; that the instrument between Woods and
Hewitt is void and of no effect, for the reason that it is indefinite in its description of the right of way as to its width and
location and as to the amount of water to be diverted; that respondent seeks to perpetrate a fraud upon appellants in that
it is pretending to proceed by virtue of the original conveyance from Woods to Hewitt which authorized the diversion
of water for the use of the town of Lowell, whereas the principal purpose now is to divert water for the use of the city of
Everett; that respondent has never acquired any right to construct a pipe line at said place, or to divert the water by means
thereof, for the purpose of supplying the city of Everett; that appellants and their grantors have been in possession of said
land under color of title, and have been in the open, notorious, and exclusive possession thereof ever since the 1st day of
January, 1892; that neither said Hewitt nor his assignee has ever, since said time, attempted to exercise possession or
ownership over said lands or waters, and that inasmuch as more than ten years have elapsed the respondent is barred.”
Everett Water Co. v. Powers, 37 Wash. 143, 147-149, 79 P. 617 (S. Ct. 1905).
Choice Quotes from
Washington Court Cases
When he’s not collecting case
quotes, David E. Ortman is a Seattle attorney who also runs masters track and field. He is shown
here at the 2013 National Senior
Games in Berea, Ohio. He won the
M60–64 Long Jump ( 5.32m) and
400m ( 56.78), running the fastest
M60–64 400m time in the world for
2013. Contact him at deortman@
8. It’s never too late to change your
“After the hearing of this case, it was
assigned to me to prepare an opinion
reversing the decision of the trial court.
After an intensive study of the record, including the comprehensive and persuasive oral opinion pronounced by the trial
judge at the close of the trial, I found myself unable to write an opinion to reverse,
and accordingly prepared an opinion
affirming the judgment appealed from.
This opinion did not meet the approval of
my associates, and the preparation of the
opinion of the court was reassigned to
another member thereof, which reassignment resulted in the foregoing opinion. I
cannot concur therewith.”
King Co. v. Lunn, 32 Wn.2d 116, 122–23 (1948)
(Dissent, J. Robinson).
9. Scratch that.
“We reject the City’s argument that the
scratch on Scout’s nose is proof of provocation.”
Morawek v. City of Bonney Lake, Court of Appeals, Division II (Docket No: 44542-5-II), Nov.
10. It’s lucky we’re lawyers.
“Law is admittedly a highly technical
field beyond the knowledge of the ordinary person.”
Lynch v. Republic Publishing Co., 40 Wn.2d 379,
389 (1952). NWL