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Criminal Law Keyed to Gershowitz
In re the Personal Restraint of John Tortorelli
Citation:149 Wash.2d 82, 66 P.3d. 606.
The defendant had conducted salvage operations in Lake Washington to recover logs which had rested on the bottom of the lake for centuries, if not thousands of years. He used a crane to lift up trees that had been partially buried in the mud at the bottom of the submerged forest area.
The Department of Natural Resources began an investigation into the defendant’s acts and determined that he had illegally seized trees worth $165,000. At trial, the defendant did not contest nor concede the State’s ownership of all the trees. Instead, he claimed a good faith belief that he had permission to salvage logs under his license. He was convicted of theft. He filed a personal restraint petition, arguing for the first time that the State did not own the logs or, relatedly, that there is insufficient evidence of state ownership of the logs.
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