Washington Law Review


Alice M. Wright


Since its creation in 1971, the Washington special inquiry judge procedure has operated virtually without constitutional challenge. However, the recent case of State v. Neslund raised the issue of whether a special inquiry judge can properly act as a neutral and detached magistrate to issue search warrants. The United States Constitution and the Washington State Constitution set forth basic guarantees of privacy and fairness, including the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally a "reasonable" search must be accompanied by a search warrant issued upon a determination of probable cause by a neutral and detached magistrate. This Note examines the Washington special inquiry system and considers the statutory and constitutional constraints placed upon a judge who issues search warrants subsequent to presiding over a special inquiry investigation. The issues raised in Neslund have not previously been addressed by the Washington courts, nor have they arisen under similar statutes in other states. The Note concludes that Neslund was correct in holding that a special inquiry judge should not be automatically disqualified from issuing search warrants.

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