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This appeal originated from a claim for attorney fees under Idaho Code section 12-117. The district court held that Hauser Lake Rod and Gun Club, Inc. was not entitled to attorney fees under section 12-117 because, even though it had prevailed against the City of Hauser in a code violation dispute, the administrative tribunal that reviewed the dispute was staffed with both County and City officials. According to the district court, section 12-117’s definition of “political subdivision” does not include administrative review tribunals staffed with officials from multiple governmental entities. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erroneously interpreted Idaho Code section 12-117 by concluding the Joint Board was not a “political subdivision:” the decision of the Board of County Commissioners was the act of a political subdivision. The statutory definition of a political subdivision expressly included counties. "As with any corporate body, a county may only act through its human agents. Under Idaho law, those agents are the Board because a county’s 'powers can only be exercised by the board of county commissioners, or by agents and officers acting under their authority, or authority of law.'" View "Hauser Lake Rod & Gun Club v. City of Hauser" on Justia Law

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John Doe appealed a magistrate court’s decision terminating his parental rights. The magistrate court terminated Doe’s rights on the statutory basis of Idaho Code section 16-2005(1), namely, that Doe was incarcerated and is likely to remain incarcerated for a substantial period of time during his sons’ (A.C. and S.C.) minority. The court also found termination was in the best interests of A.C. and S.C. Finding no abuse of discretion, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the termination. View "Health & Welfare v. John Doe (2017-4)" on Justia Law

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The issue at the center of this case, presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review, required it to resolve a custody dispute between Jane Doe I, Child’s natural mother, and Jane Doe, the natural mother’s former partner. During the course of Mother and Partner’s relationship, Mother conceived a child via artificial insemination. After the parties separated, Partner filed a petition to establish parentage, custody and visitation with Child. Partner advanced two legal arguments to support her petition: (1) the Court’s decision in Stockwell v. Stockwell, 775 P.2d 611 (1989), provided an independent cause of action by which the court could grant custody to Partner; (2) argued that she should be deemed a parent under Idaho Code section 39-5405, Idaho’s artificial insemination statute, because she consented to the artificial insemination. As part of this argument, Partner contended that Idaho’s artificial insemination statute violated Child’s rights and her rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution by discriminating against children born outside of marriage. The magistrate court denied Partner’s claim for parentage, but granted her visitation rights under "Stockwell." After review, the Supreme Court concluded: (1) "Stockwell" did not create an independent cause of action for a non-parent seeking custodial rights to a minor child; and (2) the magistrate court properly dismissed the parentage claims brought pursuant to the Artificial Insemination Act. The judgment of the magistrate court was reversed in part and affirmed in part. The case was remanded to the magistrate court to vacate the temporary visitation order that was entered. View "Jane Doe v. Jane Doe I" on Justia Law

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This was a legal malpractice case that addressed the statute of limitations applicable to professional malpractice claims, how a statute of limitations is calculated when the last day for filing a complaint falls on a Sunday, and whether expert testimony is necessary to establish the prima facie elements of legal malpractice. Plaintiff-appellant Christina Greenfield hired defendant-respondent Ian Smith to represent her in a civil suit against her neighbors. While the suit was pending, Greenfield was charged criminally with malicious injury to the Wurmlingers’ property. Greenfield retained Smith to represent her in the criminal matter. Greenfield was acquitted of the criminal charges. In the civil case, Smith successfully moved to withdraw from representing Greenfield because the attorney-client relationship had broken down to the point where he was no longer able to represent her. Greenfield represented herself at trial, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the neighbors. Greenfield sued Smith for malpractice, alleging, among other things, that he failed to complete discovery, failed to file a motion for summary judgment on the Wurmlingers’ counterclaim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, failed to amend the complaint to include additional causes of action for abuse of process, slander and libel, failed to file a timely motion for protective order to safeguard the privacy of her medical records, missed several important deadlines, and made no attempt to get the criminal charges dismissed for lack of evidence. Smith filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Greenfield’s claims were time barred and that she could not prove the prima facie elements of legal malpractice because she failed to designate any expert witnesses. Greenfield opposed the motion by filing a responsive brief and her own affidavit setting forth the allegations she claimed supported her malpractice claim, but did not file any expert affidavits. Greenfield argued that her complaint was timely and that no expert witness was required to prove her case. The district court granted Smith’s motion. Greenfield appealed. Though the Idaho Supreme Court found that the district court miscalculated the filing deadline for Greenfield’s civil matter claims (for determining whether her claims were time barred), Greenfield was unable to meet her burdens of proof to support her claims. Accordingly, the Court affirmed judgment in favor of Smith. View "Greenfield v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (“Doe”) appealed the magistrate court’s judgment granting the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s (“IDHW”) petition to terminate her parental rights. Doe claimed that the magistrate court erred by: (1) terminating her parental rights notwithstanding its finding that her mental health issues made it impossible for her to comply with the case plan; and (2) considering evidence outside of the record during the termination trial. Five permanency hearings were held between January 6, 2015 and December 15, 2015. Prior to the first permanency hearing, the Guardian ad litem again reported that while the Children were progressing, Doe was failing to comply with her case plan. Accordingly, it again recommended that the magistrate court move forward with the termination of Doe’s parental rights. IDHW’s report was substantially similar to its previous report; that is, Doe had continued her noncompliance with the case plan. Finding no reversible error in the magistrate court's judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed termination. View "Health & Welfare v. Jane Doe (2016-47)" on Justia Law

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After review of the documents and affidavits proffered in support of Plaintiff Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC’s (“PRA”) position, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded they did not contain adequate foundation and were not admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule. PRA sued Defendant Lloyd MacDonald for an amount owed on a Citibank credit card account. MacDonald filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that PRA did not have standing to bring this action because it could not prove that the debt had been assigned by Citibank to PRA. MacDonald objected to the evidence PRA submitted to support its position, arguing that the evidence was inadmissible hearsay and lacked adequate foundation. The magistrate court overruled MacDonald’s objections and granted summary judgment in favor of PRA. MacDonald appealed to the district court. The district court affirmed the magistrate court’s decision. The Supreme Court found that even the catch-all exception to the hearsay rule could not be used to admit some of the documents. The decision to grant summary judgment in favor of PRA was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Portfolio Recovery Assoc v. MacDonald" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court did not err when it found that the Church did not have a special relationship with Henrie such that it had an affirmative duty to control or protect him, nor was there any issue of fact as to whether the Church had a general duty to prevent Henrie's injury. This case arose out of injuries suffered by Bryan Henrie while he was participating in a community service event organized by the Mormon Helping Hands (“Helping Hands”), a priesthood-directed program run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”). Henrie argued on appeal that the district court erred when it dismissed his tort claim on summary judgment. Henrie was assigned to work with a crew felling burned trees and rolling or throwing the wood down an embankment on the property to be hauled away later. Later that day, Henrie was attempting to throw a tree stump down the embankment when it caught on his smock. He was pulled down the embankment by the stump, severely injuring his right knee in the process. Henrie asserted that “[a]t the very least, Defendant had a duty not to supply Plaintiff with gear or clothing that would put him or his bodily safety in danger or ultimately harm him . . . Defendant breached this duty of care.” He further asserted that “Defendant owed a duty to Plaintiff to use reasonable care in nominating, training, and supervising any and all of the clean-up organizers and volunteers, including those who spoke with and directed Plaintiff.” The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Church. View "Henrie v. Church of Latter-Day Saints" on Justia Law

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Claimant-appellant Jimmy Christy, Jr. appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission that found him ineligible for unemployment benefits based upon a willful underreporting of earnings to the Idaho Department of Labor. The appeals examiner heard testimony during a hearing, including Christy’s testimony that despite attending high school, he had problems with numbers and did not read well. The Industrial Commission found that Christy’s explanations resolved only part of the discrepancies revealed by a cross-match audit. The Industrial Commission entered its decision finding that Christy had willfully misstated material facts in his weekly earnings reports to IDOL and found him ineligible for unemployment benefits for each of the weeks that earnings were willfully misrepresented. The Industrial Commission also imposed civil penalties and interest. Christy filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court. Finding no reversible error in the Industrial Commission's decision, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Christy v. Grasmick Produce" on Justia Law

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In a parental rights termination and adoption case, John Doe I (“Father”) was incarcerated for second degree murder. He was given a minimum fifteen year sentence, with a subsequent indeterminate period not to exceed life. While Father was in jail awaiting trial, Mother and Jane Doe III ("Child") visited him frequently. After sentencing, Father was transferred to the Idaho State Correctional Institute in Boise. Mother and Child visited him there once in September 2012. This was the last physical contact Child had with Father. Shortly after this visit, Father was transferred to a prison in Colorado. In early 2016, he returned to the Correctional Institute in Boise. Father made frequent phone calls to Child until 2013 when Mother, out of concern for Child, began restricting calls to Child. Thereafter, Father sent a few letters to Child, but has essentially had no contact with Child since then. In 2013, Mother began dating Stepfather. In May 2015, Mother and Stepfather were married. Mother and Stepfather have two children together, and they, Child and their two children live as a family in Nampa. Mother and Stepfather operate two daycare centers in Nampa. Stepfather has acted as a father figure to Child since he began dating Mother, and has had the care, custody and control of Child since he married Mother in 2015. A magistrate court held that it was in the best interest of Child that Father’s rights be terminated so that Stepfather (John Doe II) could adopt her. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Doe II v. Doe I" on Justia Law

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Idaho Code section 18-309’s plain language mandates credit for “any period of incarceration” where “such incarceration was for the offense or an included offense for which the judgment was entered.” The statute “does not limit that credit in any way.” In this consolidated appeal, Sterling Brand and Joshua Nall each pled guilty to their respective charges while they were already incarcerated due to unrelated charges. Brand and Nall then moved for credit for time served under section 18-309, requesting credit for the time spent incarcerated after being served with the arrest warrants until judgments of conviction were entered, even though they were already incarcerated due to unrelated charges. The district court denied both motions, and the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed. In Brand’s case, the district court stated that “if you are in custody on separate charges and then unrelated charges are filed and you’re in custody, you don’t get credit for that time because you’re not being held on the new charges, you’re being held on the original charges.” And in Nall’s case, the district court similarly stated “when [Nall] was served with the Ada County arrest warrant in this case, [Nall] was already being detained as a consequence of charges in the federal case. . . . [T]he Ada County warrant had no effect upon [Nall’s] liberty when he was already subject to confinement for the federal charges.” The Idaho Supreme Court found the district court erred in calculating Brand’s and Nall’s credit for time served, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Idaho v. Brand" on Justia Law