Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Criminal

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Ida Vasquez was convicted by jury of one count of intimidating a witness. Vasquez argued she was deprived of her state and federal constitutional right to a jury trial because, although her counsel waived her right to a jury trial, Vasquez never personally waived such right, either orally or in writing. Vasquez subsequently appealed and this case was originally heard and decided by the Court of Appeals; however, the Idaho Supreme Court granted the State’s petition for review. Under its Court’s fundamental error analysis, the Supreme Court held a criminal defendant’s waiver of the right to jury trial must be made by the defendant orally or in writing. Vasquez’s failure to personally waive her right to jury trial was a clear violation of a constitutional right. The Judgment of Conviction was vacated nunc pro tunc to December 1, 2014. View "Idaho v. Vasquez" on Justia Law

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Erick Virgil Hall was convicted of the 2000 first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and rape of Lynn Henneman. Henneman was a flight attendant from New York, laid over in Boise that day. She and the rest of the flight crew arrived in the early afternoon and checked into a hotel near the Boise River. That evening, Henneman went walking on the Greenbelt. After failing to meet the flight crew the next morning as planned, Henneman was reported missing and an extensive search was undertaken. Two weeks later, her body was discovered floating in the Boise River more than a mile downstream from her hotel. No suspect was identified until 2003, when police were investigating the murder of another woman in the Boise foothills. Erick Hall was questioned in connection with that murder and submitted a DNA sample. Hall’s sample matched the DNA on the vaginal swabs collected from Henneman’s body three years earlier. Hall was ultimately sentenced to death for murder and to consecutive, fixed life terms for first-degree kidnapping and rape. Hall petitioned for post-conviction relief, alleging numerous errors at trial. Hall’s petition for post-conviction relief was summarily dismissed. Hall’s direct and post- conviction appeals are consolidated pursuant to Idaho Code section 19-2719(6). The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of conviction and the order dismissing the post-conviction petition. View "Idaho v. Hall" on Justia Law

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In 2015, defendant-appellant Jason Barrett was arrested for a parole violation related to a prior conviction. At the time of his arrest, Barrett was in possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. While Barrett was incarcerated following the parole violation, the State filed a criminal complaint against Barrett charging him with possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with the intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting or obstructing an officer. On the same day, the district court issued an arrest warrant for these offenses after finding probable cause existed. Barrett later pleaded guilty to the felony charge for possession with intent to deliver; in turn, the State dismissed the misdemeanor charges. The district court imposed a sentence of ten years with three and one-half years determinate, which was to run concurrently with his prior sentence. In consideration of credit for time served, Barrett requested credit starting on July 24, 2015, the date a Hold Notice Request was served on him. The district court partially granted this request, awarding him credit starting on September 9, 2015, the date his arrest warrant was served. This credit amounted to 135 days. Barrett’s subsequent motion for reconsideration of the sentence upon leniency grounds was denied. Thereafter, Barrett appealed his sentence. Prior to the hearing on appeal, Barrett filed a pro se motion seeking reconsideration of the time served ruling, and, specifically, requesting credit for an additional 47 days for the span between July 24, 2015, and September 9, 2015. The district court denied the motion. On appeal, the Court of Appeals considered both the district court’s sentence and the issue of credit for time served. In so doing, the court affirmed the sentence, but reversed the district court’s denial of the motion, holding that Barrett should have been awarded credit for the 47 days. The State filed a petition for review, which the Idaho Supreme Court granted. After review, the Supreme Court held that absent authority establishing that the Hold Notice Request was a legal basis of incarceration or evidence showing that Barrett was actually held pursuant to the Hold Notice Request even without proper authority, Barrett was not entitled to the credit for time served. View "Idaho v. Barrett" on Justia Law

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A jury found David Johnson guilty of two counts of lewd conduct with a minor child under sixteen. Johnson appeals, arguing that the district court erred in multiple ways requiring his convictions be vacated. Finding no reversible error after review of the trial court record, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed Johnson’s convictions. View "Idaho v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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This case addressed whether a defendant accused of DUI could present expert testimony regarding his alcohol concentration at the time he was driving. In April 2015, a Sheriff’s Deputy pulled Justin Austin over for failure to use a turn signal. During the stop, the deputy detected the smell of alcohol, and Austin’s appearance further led the deputy to believe he was driving under the influence. After performing a field sobriety test, he arrested Austin and approximately thirty minutes after the initial stop conducted two breath tests that demonstrated alcohol concentrations above Idaho’s legal limit. Austin claimed that his consumption of three drinks in a short period of time just before the stop contributed to a rising alcohol concentration as he waited for the breath tests, and sought to introduce expert testimony to that effect. The district court granted the State’s motion in limine to exclude expert testimony as to his actual alcohol concentration as irrelevant under the DUI statute’s “per se” provision as interpreted by Idaho precedent. On appeal, Austin challenged the decision to grant the State’s motion, and alternatively challenged the DUI statute as overbroad or void for vagueness where there was no time limit within which approved alcohol concentration testing must be done to be used as evidence of a crime. The district court applied binding case law to grant the motion in limine. The Idaho Supreme Court clarified the law and felt compelled to hold that the district court’s decision to grant the State’s motion in limine constituted an abuse of discretion because it was not consistent with the legal standard now clarified. Accordingly, the Court vacated Austin’s conviction. View "Idaho v. Austin" on Justia Law

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Gracie Tryon appealed her conviction for possession of a controlled substance. Tryon argued the district court erred when it admitted certain statements regarding the identity of the alleged controlled substance. Tryon claimed the admission of these statements violated her constitutional right to confront witnesses against her because the declarant was unavailable and she did not have a prior opportunity to cross-examine him. Tryon also asserted that the State did not present sufficient evidence to support a conviction for possession of a controlled substance. After review of the trial court record, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded the evidence in the record did not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Tryon was in possession of a controlled substance. Tryon's sentence was vacated and the case remanded for the trial court to enter judgment of acquittal. View "Idaho v. Tryon" on Justia Law

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Gracie Tryon appealed her conviction for possession of a controlled substance. Tryon argued the district court erred when it admitted certain statements regarding the identity of the alleged controlled substance. Tryon claimed the admission of these statements violated her constitutional right to confront witnesses against her because the declarant was unavailable and she did not have a prior opportunity to cross-examine him. Tryon also asserted that the State did not present sufficient evidence to support a conviction for possession of a controlled substance. After review of the trial court record, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded the evidence in the record did not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Tryon was in possession of a controlled substance. Tryon's sentence was vacated and the case remanded for the trial court to enter judgment of acquittal. View "Idaho v. Tryon" on Justia Law

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The State of Idaho appealed a district court decision suppressing evidence found during a search of Brody Jaskowski’s pickup. Relying on Idaho v. Turek, 250 P.3d 796 (Ct. App. 2011), the district court held that Jaskowski’s probation agreement required that his probation officer request that Jaskowski submit to a search. The district court found that the probation officer did not make such a request of Jaskowski before searching his vehicle. Therefore, the district court suppressed evidence discovered in the course of the search. Finding no reversible error in that district court decision, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed it. View "Idaho v. Jaskowski" on Justia Law

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On February 14, 2016, after drinking, Roy Baxter “backhanded [his] wife in the throat area” while the two were driving in his car. When they stopped driving and got out of his car, they continued arguing, and Baxter “threatened to kill her and punched her in the arm.” Baxter’s abuse left his wife with “a traumatic injury” and bruising. A no-contact order prohibiting Baxter from attempting to “contact, harass, follow, communicate with, or knowingly remain within 100 feet of: [his wife]” was issued shortly thereafter, but Baxter “call[ed] and talk[ed]” to his wife “between 1-14 times” after the issuance of the no-contact order. In March, the State charged Baxter with domestic violence under Idaho Code section 18-918(2) and violating the no-contact order under Idaho Code section 18-920. The State proposed a plea agreement, whereby, in exchange for Baxter’s plea of guilty on the domestic violence charge, the State agreed to dismiss several other charges and recommend probation on the condition that a domestic violence evaluation rated Baxter’s likelihood to reoffend at “less than high risk[.]” As an additional contingency, the plea agreement prohibited Baxter from “acquiring a new criminal charge or charges between the date of this offer and sentencing, even if the charge or charges are not yet conviction(s).” Baxter was initially uncertain about whether to accept the State’s proposed plea agreement, and underwent a domestic violence evaluation. When the State reviewed the domestic violence evaluation, it grew concerned over “gross omissions” it felt Baxter had made concerning his drug use and violent conduct during the initial plea negotiations, and changed its terms for the agreement. Baxter entered a guilty plea. Baxter’s presentence investigation report (PSI) took into consideration Baxter’s evaluation, and recommended Baxter be placed on a rider. Baxter moved to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing the State’s “intervention with [with the physician evaluator] after [Baxter] entered his guilty plea rendered the plea agreement in this case meaningless.” Baxter did not claim innocence. The district court denied the motion, concluding Baxter had not met his burden to show the existence of a “just reason” to withdraw his plea. The Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Idaho Supreme Court also affirmed, finding Baxter did not show the existence of a just reason to withdraw his guilty plea. View "Idaho v. Baxter" on Justia Law

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Torey Adamcik appealed his conviction and sentence for the murder of Cassie Stoddart when he was sixteen years old. The Idaho Supreme Court previously affirmed the conviction and sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Adamcik sought post-conviction relief on several claims, including ineffective assistance of counsel and that his sentence violated the federal and state bars against cruel and unusual punishment. The district court denied all of Adamcik’s claims following an evidentiary hearing. On appeal, Adamcik contended that the district court erred in denying his requested relief as to three of the ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Furthermore, he argued the district court erred in denying his claim that the imposed sentence of life without the possibility of parole violated the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, section 6 of the Idaho Constitution in light of recent Unites States Supreme Court opinions. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court on denial of post-conviction relief. View "Adamcik v. Idaho" on Justia Law