After yesterday's bill cutoff, House and Senate lawmakers turned to floor action today.
One of several bills approved in the House urges the state courts to adopt a rule that protects sex-offense victims who are called to the stand to testify against a defendant who is acting as his own attorney. House Bill 1001 now goes to the Senate.
Former Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, was unable to pass a similar bill (through the Senate) last year that would have required a court appointed lawyer to do the questioning of witnesses – as long as the pro se defendant was in contact with his attorney. HB 1001 faces the same challenge now.
But this year Democratic Rep. Roger Goodman of Kirkland and Republican Rep. Jay Rodne of Issaquah teamed up to pass House Bill 1001. It asks courts to adopt a rule that lets the individual court do the questioning on behalf of the pro se defendant – or name another party to do so.
The goal, as Goodman and Rodne pointed out in floor speeches, is to spare a victim from further victimization by a perpetrator. The vote was 92-0 with six lawmakers absent, but all South Sound lawmakers from Thurston, Mason and Pierce counties voted for it.
Goodman said a rule to accomplish the bill's goals is moving through the Supreme Court's rule-making process, and the bill now urges adoption of the rule for all state courts.
UPDATE on original 3:12 p.m. Feb. 22 post: clarifies that Williams' bill cleared the House on a 97-0 vote and died in the Senate. Williams says there were senators who wanted to defer to the courts, which the Goodman and Rodne bill does.