State v. Stenger

In State v. Stenger, 111 Wn.2d 516, 760 P.2d 357 (Wash. 1988), the Supreme Court of Washington held that a prosecutor who had defended Stenger on two criminal charges ten years before seeking to levy the death penalty on him should have been disqualified. The court noted that the prosecutor would not normally be disqualified in these circumstances, since the charge of aggravated murder in the first degree was "unrelated to the accused's previous crimes concerning which the prosecuting attorney represented him." Stenger, 760 P.2d at 360. The court went on to say, however, that the potential imposition of the death penalty changed the analysis: The factual information the prosecuting attorney obtained from the accused by virtue of the prosecuting attorney's previous legal representation of the accused, including information about the defendant's background and earlier criminal and antisocial conduct, is information closely interwoven with the prosecuting attorney's exercise of discretion in seeking the death penalty in the present case. Id.