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Joseph Herrera appealed his conviction for second-degree murder after a second trial. On appeal, Herrera argued: (1) the State vindictively prosecuted him by adding a sentencing enhancement; (2) the district court erred when it failed to conduct a sufficient inquiry into his request for substitution of appointed counsel; (3) the district court abused its discretion when it overruled objections to a detective’s testimony regarding gunshot residue analysis; (4) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct in closing arguments; (5) the accumulation of errors deprived him of a right to a fair trial; and (6) the district court judge imposed a vindictive sentence after the second trial. After review of the second trial record, the Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible errors and affirmed Herrera’s conviction and sentence. View "Idaho v. Herrera" on Justia Law

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John Doe was the biological father of minor child, J.G. J.G. was conceived in Oklahoma about a month before Doe began serving a thirty-five year prison sentence. J.G. was born in 2011. Doe saw J.G. one time when she was less than twenty months old when someone brought the child to the prison to see him. J.G. and her mother moved to Idaho in approximately 2013. In August 2016, law enforcement removed J.G. and her half-brother from their mother’s care and placed them in shelter care after determining they were in imminent danger. After an adjudicatory hearing, the magistrate court determined it was in the best interest of the children to vest legal custody in the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Eventually the Department and the guardian ad litem for J.G. recommended termination of Mother and Doe’s parental rights. Doe’s termination hearing took place in January 2018. The magistrate court determined that Doe will likely be incarcerated for a substantial period of time during J.G.’s minority and that termination was in the child’s best interest. Doe appealed. But the Idaho Supreme Court concurred with the magistrate court that there was substantial and competent evidence to support the magistrate court’s determination that Doe would likely be incarcerated during a substantial period of time during J.G.’s minority and that termination was in the child’s best interests. View "Health & Welfare v. John Doe (2018-17)" on Justia Law

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Charges were brought against Charles Capone following the disappearance of Rachael Anderson in April of 2010. He was convicted by jury of felony first degree murder, failure to notify coroner or law enforcement of death, and conspiracy to commit failure to notify coroner or law enforcement of death. Capone challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction and claimed the district court erred in the admission of certain evidence and by denying his motion for new trial. Finding no error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho v. Capone" on Justia Law

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Kilo Le Veque appealed district court decisions to revoke his probation and subsequently relinquish jurisdiction. Le Veque argued the district court abused its discretion in these decisions by refusing to consider the propriety of the terms of his probation at the revocation hearing and by relinquishing jurisdiction solely because Le Veque had not obtained a polygraph examination that the district court desired. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s order revoking probation and reversed the district court’s order relinquishing jurisdiction. The Idaho Supreme Court granted the State’s petition for review and: (1) affirmed the district court’s decision revoking Le Veque’s probation; (2) reversed the district court’s decision relinquishing jurisdiction; and (3) remanded the case for further proceedings before a new district court judge. View "Idaho v. Le Veque" on Justia Law

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St. Luke’s Magic Valley Regional Medical Center appealed a jury verdict awarding Rodney and Joyce Herrett $3,775,864.21 in a medical malpractice action wherein St. Luke’s admitted liability. On appeal, St. Luke’s argued that the district court erred by denying its motion for mistrial, admitting certain expert testimony, and improperly instructing the jury as to recklessness. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Herrett v. St. Luke's Magic Valley RMC" on Justia Law

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The humans in the events giving rise to this lawsuit were related by blood or marriage: Stephen Boswell was married to Karena Boswell; Karena is Mary Steele’s daughter; Amber was Mary Steele’s granddaughter and owned a Scottish terrier named Zoey. Amber and Zoey lived in Mary’s home. Stephen and Karena Boswell appealed a judgment entered in favor of Amber Steele and the Estate of Mary Steele. The Boswells sought to recover damages for injuries suffered by Stephen after he was bitten by Zoey. Before the case was submitted to the jury, the district court ruled that all of the Boswells’ claims sounded in negligence and so instructed the jury, rejecting the Boswells’ proposed jury instructions on common law and statutory strict liability. The jury found that the Steeles were not negligent and the district court entered judgment consistent with that verdict. The Idaho Supreme Court found that the Boswells were entitled to have the jury instructed on theories other than negligence. The instructions given by the trial court did not accurately convey the elements of a common law dog bite case in Idaho, nor did they contemplate a cause of action arising from the Pocatello Municipal Code. As such, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded for a new trial. View "Boswell v. Steele" on Justia Law

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This litigation followed an earlier dispute between Val Westover and Jase Cundick, the Franklin County Assessor. That dispute came before the Idaho Supreme Court, where Westover advanced claims for slander of title and intentional interference with existing or potential economic relations and sought writs of mandate and prohibition. After Westover voluntarily dismissed the slander of title and tortious interference claims, the district court denied his requests for extraordinary writs and dismissed the action. Westover appealed, and the Supreme Court affirmed. Westover then brought this action, seeking a declaration that the existence of the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP) violated Idaho law. Westover appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of ICRMP. The district court held that Westover did not have standing to pursue his claim. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court again affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Westover v. Idaho Counties Risk Mgmt Program" on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned the guardianship of a ten-year-old child, Jane Doe II (“Jane”), whose parents passed away in 2017. A family friend petitioned for guardianship; Jane's aunt (twin sister of her mother) also petitioned for guardianship. A guardian ad litem recommended the friend be awarded temporary guardianship for Jane to finish the school year, then the aunt be permanent guardian. The friend appealed. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian was vacated by the Idaho Supreme Court, which remanded the case for the magistrate court to conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to a new trial. View "Western Community Ins v. Burks Tractor" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review centered on the guardianship of a ten-year-old child, Jane Doe II (“Jane”). Both of Jane’s parents passed away in 2017. Thereafter, a family friend with whom Jane and her mother had been living, (“Friend”), petitioned for guardianship. Jane’s father’s twin sister (“Aunt”) also petitioned for guardianship. During proceedings the magistrate court appointed a local attorney, Auriana Clapp-Younggren, to serve as both the attorney and the guardian ad litem for Jane. After trial, the magistrate court followed Clapp-Younggren’s recommendation and awarded temporary guardianship to Friend so that Jane could finish the school year, but appointed Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian. Friend appealed the magistrate court decision. The Supreme Court determined the magistrate court abused its discretion by failing to conduct a reasonable inquiry into whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney. Here, the magistrate court checked two boxes on the form order appointing Clapp- Younggren: one box appointed her as the attorney for Jane and the other appointed her as Jane’s guardian ad litem. Friend later filed a motion for the magistrate court to appoint an attorney for Jane under Idaho Code section 15-5-207(7). This motion was accompanied by an affidavit of a psychotherapist who testified that Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney. However, the judge denied the motion simply stating “I’m denying the motion. Ms. Clapp-Younggren is going to represent [Jane’s] interests in the case.” The magistrate court judge gave no explanation for why he was denying the request. The record also reflects that the magistrate court made no effort to determine Jane’s maturity level. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian is vacated and the case is remanded so that the magistrate court can conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possesses sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to the new trial. View "In the Interest of Jane Doe II (under 18 years)" on Justia Law

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The State appealed the dismissal of a charge against defendant Laura Akins for her failure to notify of a death pursuant to Idaho Code section 19-4301A. In November 2015, Kimberly Vezina’s body was found wrapped in a tarp and a shower curtain in Lake Coeur d’Alene. Law enforcement’s investigation revealed that Laura Akins was suspected of disposing the body after Vezina died of a drug overdose. The statute imposes a duty on persons who find or have custody of a body to promptly notify authorities. It also prescribes the punishment for failure to comply with that duty, including felony punishment for failing to notify with intent to prevent discovery of the manner of death. The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court’s review was whether defendant’s prosecution under this statute would violate her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The Supreme Court hold that it would, based on the unique set of facts of this case and affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss the charge. View "Idaho v. Akins" on Justia Law