Justia Idaho Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court – Criminal

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Appellant Jason Zane Garner appeals the district court order revoking his probation and reinstating his sentence. Appellant Jason Zane Garner appeals the district court order revoking his probation and reinstating his sentence. Following his completion of a rider program, Garner was placed on supervised probation for five years. The terms of his probation included, among other things, that he: (1) not leave the Third Judicial District without written permission from his probation officer; (2) abide by the No Contact Order entered in the stalking case; and (3) follow the instructions of his probation officer. In May 2015, the stalking victim saw Garner outside Albertson’s in Boise. The victim exited her workplace and recognized Garner’s Toyota truck about thirty yards away in the parking lot in front of the grocery store. She took pictures of the truck (which were clear enough to reveal his license plate), then left the scene and notified police. Although she did not approach the truck or speak with Garner, she later testified that he was sitting in his truck and appeared to be smiling at her in the rearview mirror. A few days later, the victim reported to police that her neighbors had seen Garner driving past her house repeatedly. Following this incident, an arrest warrant was issued for Garner for allegedly violating the terms of probation. Two hearings were subsequently conducted by two different district judges. One judge conducted an evidentiary hearing. A second judge conducted the disposition hearing. At the disposition hearing, Garner’s probation officer testified that Garner changed his story repeatedly when asked about his presence in Boise and did not take responsibility for his actions. When asked if Garner’s behavior merited imposition of the sentence (or whether he should be placed on another rider), the probation officer testified that further efforts to rehabilitate Garner would likely be unsuccessful. The district court imposed the entire ten-year term of imprisonment, with six years fixed. Garner filed a Rule 35 motion to reduce his sentence. Because Garner did not produce any new or additional evidence to support the motion, it was denied. Garner timely appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho v. Garner" on Justia Law

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The State appealed the district court’s grant of post-conviction relief for John Wurdemann. Wurdemann was convicted on seven felony counts related to the June 2000 attack of Linda LeBrane. In its order, the district court ruled that Wurdemann’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated because trial counsel failed to properly challenge the admission of eyewitness identifications. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wurdemann v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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Thomas Kelley appealed the district court’s award of restitution entered under Idaho Code section 37-2732(k). The Idaho Court of Appeals vacated the restitution award, and the Supreme Court granted the State’s petition for review. Because the Court concluded the State failed to support its request for restitution with sufficient evidence, it vacated the award. View "Idaho v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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Jamie Nelson appealed the district court’s award of restitution entered under Idaho Code section 37-2732(k). The Idaho Court of Appeals vacated the restitution award, and the Supreme Court granted the State’s petition for review. Because the Court concluded the State failed to support its request for restitution with sufficient evidence, it vacated the award. View "Idaho v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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Jeremy Cunningham appealed a district court’s award of restitution. In September 2014, a jury convicted Cunningham of possession of a controlled substance. The district court imposed a unified sentence of five years, with one-and-one-half years fixed. Thereafter, the district court held a restitution hearing, where the State sought to recoup its prosecution costs under Idaho Code section 37-2732(k). The State requested $2,240, which reflects 16 hours of work billed at $140 per hour. Cunningham argued the hourly rate was unreasonable and unsupported by the evidence, but he offered no evidence or further arguments on his behalf. The district court awarded the State its requested prosecution costs, plus $100 “for lab fees under the Drug Donation Act.” The award totaled $2,340. Cunningham appealed, and the Idaho Court of Appeals vacated the award and remanded for further consistent proceedings. The Court of Appeals held that insufficient evidence supported the award because it was based only on the State’s unsworn Statement of Costs. The Idaho Supreme Court granted the State’s petition for review and concluded the restitution award was indeed not supported by evidence. “Restitution under section 37-2732(k) must be based on a preponderance of the evidence, and an award of restitution will not be disturbed if supported by substantial evidence.” Here, the Court found that the State’s unsworn Statement of Costs did not rise to the level of “substantial evidence.” The Court held that unsworn representations, even by an officer of the court, do not constitute “substantial evidence” upon which restitution under section 37-2732(k) could be based. View "Idaho v. Cunningham" on Justia Law

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Washington resident and appellant Douglas Meyer appealed his felony conviction for possession of over three ounces of marijuana. Meyer argued the district court erred when it denied his request for a jury instruction on the necessity defense. Meyer had a prescription for medical marijuana and was the designated medical marijuana provider for Tammy Rose. He was arrested while driving through Idaho on his way to California with over three ounces of marijuana in his vehicle. He argued that the district court was required to provide a necessity defense jury instruction because he had made a prima facie showing of each of the elements of that defense. The Supreme Court concluded that the district court erred in its reasoning for the denial, but not in its conclusion. “Without a prima facie showing that Meyer did not have any legal alternative to manage his pain for a short period of time, including through the procurement of medications which [were] legal in the State of Idaho, Meyer cannot show that the district court erred in refusing to instruct the jury as to necessity.” View "Idaho v. Meyer" on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellant Laura Smith appealed her conviction for aiding and abetting the delivery of psilocybin mushrooms to an undercover detective. She contended the district court erred in overruling an objection to an out-of-court statement made by the person from whom they purchased the mushrooms about his supplier on the grounds that it was hearsay and violated the Defendant’s right to cross-examine the declarant. Defendant also challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho v. Smith" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Thomas Kralovec was arrested by Boise City Officer Tad Miller for public intoxication and resisting and obstructing arrest. While he was being transported to jail, Kralovec was antagonistic. He cursed, insulted, and threatened Officer Miller. Upon arrival at the jail, Kralovec was met by four deputies. Kralovec remained combative and non-compliant during the intake process. The four deputies took turns restraining Kralovec to search him and remove his handcuffs so that he could be left alone in the cell. The deputies placed Kralovec on a concrete bench in the cell in a prone position with his legs in a “figure four leg trap” with his face to the wall. At some point during the search, Kralovec’s right leg came free and kicked out, knocking a microphone loose from the clip on one deputy’s shirt and allegedly striking another in the shoulder. The incident was recorded by a camera in the holding cell. The State filed an information charging Kralovec with one count of battery on a peace officer, later amending it to charge Kralovec with battery on a correctional officer. State filed notice of its intent to introduce audio evidence of Kralovec’s arrest and transport to jail to show Kralovec’s knowledge and intent pursuant to Idaho Rule of Evidence 404(b). Kralovec objected, arguing that the evidence was either not relevant, or its probative value was substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect. The district court concluded that the evidence was res gestae evidence temporally connected with the alleged battery and had a tendency to explain Kralovec’s alleged misbehavior during the booking process. The district court further concluded that the evidence was admissible under Idaho Rule of Evidence 404(b) as it was relevant to Kralovec’s intent. Kralovec was ultimately convicted on one count of battery on a correctional officer. On appeal, Kralovec argued: (1) the State failed to present constitutionally sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable trier of fact could have found that the State sustained its burden of proving the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the district court abused its discretion when it admitted audio evidence of Kralovec’s encounter with Officer Miller as res gestae and under Idaho Rule of Evidence 404(b); and (3) the sentencing judge abused his discretion by refusing to review the trial transcripts and exhibits prior to sentencing. Finding no error in the district court’s judgment of conviction, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho v. Kralovec" on Justia Law

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The question before the Supreme Court in this matter was whether exigent circumstances existed to justify a warrantless blood draw. Defendant-appellant Daniel Chenobieff argued the blood draw violated his constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and, consequently, that the district court erred in affirming the magistrate court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence obtained in the blood draw. The district court specifically pointed to the prosecutor’s attempt to obtain a warrant through the on-call magistrate who could not be reached. The district court also made reference to the delay resulting from Chernobieff's refusal to perform field sobriety tests, but in doing so the court erred. Any delay caused by Chernobieff's exercise of his Constitutional rights may not be considered. The court concluded that the magistrate considered the totality of circumstances and that the magistrate’s findings were supported by substantial evidence. The Supreme Court concurred with the district court. "Even excluding the delay related to the field sobriety tests, there was substantial evidence to support the magistrate’s findings. Therefore, we find that the district court did not err in affirming the denial of the motion to suppress the results of the blood draw." View "Idaho v. Chernobieff" on Justia Law

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Tarango Deforest Padilla was convicted of two counts of grand theft and was found to be a persistent violator. He appealed his conviction, and it was affirmed by the Idaho Court of Appeals in an unpublished opinion. He later filed a petition for post-conviction relief, contending that his attorney provided ineffective assistance in failing to file a motion to suppress. The district court dismissed that petition. Defendant again appealed. Finding that no such motion would have been successful, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Padilla’s petition for relief. View "Padilla v. New Mexico" on Justia Law