Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil

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Sovereign immunity is inapplicable when constitutional violations are alleged. Appellants brought a class action suit against the State, alleging Idaho’s public defense system was inadequate under federal and state constitutional standards. The district court reasoned that Appellants’ claims were not justiciable on standing, ripeness, and separation of powers grounds and dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court found that appellants' claims were justiciable on standing and ripeness, not separation of powers. The Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of Appellants’ complaint as to the State of Idaho and the PDC, but affirmed dismissal as to Governor Otter. The Court remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Tucker, et al v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in dismissing the State Defendants under the Constitutionally Based Educational Claims Act (“CBECA”). This appeal arose from Russell Joki’s action challenging the constitutionality of: (1) fees charged to students of Meridian Joint District #21 ; and (2) the statewide system of funding Idaho’s public schools. Joki and sixteen other individuals (collectively referred to as “Joki”) initiated the suit against the State, the Idaho Legislature, the Idaho State Board of Education, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction (collectively referred to as the “State Defendants”), all 114 Idaho public school districts, and one charter school. The district court granted the State Defendants’ motion to dismiss. Joki argued the CBECA did not apply here, but the Supreme Court disagreed, finding: (1) the CBECA was constitutional, “it is not unreasonable for the legislature to also declare that allegations that the required educational services are not being furnished should first be addressed to the local school districts which have been given the responsibility and authority to provide those services;” and (2) Joki’s claims relating to the fees levied by the school districts fell squarely within the definition of a constitutionally based educational claim because the legislature’s duty was to provide free common schools. View "Joki v. Idaho Bd of Education" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Barry Searcy was an inmate in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC). In 2011, he filed a civil complaint naming as defendants the Idaho State Board of Correction, IDOC, and various individual defendants in their official capacities (collectively “the Board”). Searcy’s complaint alleged that the Board illegally charged inmates fees for: (1) commissary goods; (2) telephone calls; (3) photocopying; (4) medical service co-pays; and (5) hobby supplies. The Legislature had not provided express statutory authorization for any of these fees at the time that Searcy brought this action. Instead, the fees were imposed based upon IDOC policy or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The Board moved for summary judgment in all claims, and the district court ultimately granted the Board's motion. Searcy appealed, and his claims “solely challenging the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Count I” (alleging that raising revenue through the disputed fees exceeded the Board’s rulemaking authority under Idaho Code section 20-212 and caused a wrongful forfeiture of property in violation of Idaho Code section 18-314) were heard by the Court of Appeals. In a split decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed. Searcy petitioned for review, which the Supreme Court granted. After review, the Court determined that the fees at issue here were not unconstitutional fees. As such, it affirmed the Court of Appeals' judgment. View "Searcy v. Idaho Bd of Correction" on Justia Law

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Senor Iguana's, Inc. appealed the cancellation of its liquor license. The district court found that Iguana's failed to pay the license renewal fee before the end of a grace period, so the license expired by operation of law. Iguana's argued on appeal that the license constituted a property right and that because the Alcohol Beverage Control bureau failed to provide notice and a hearing before cancelling the license, Iguana’s was denied its constitutional and statutory rights. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Senor Iguana's v. ISP - ABC" on Justia Law

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This was an appeal of a district court order affirming in part an order issued by the Director of the Idaho Department of Water Resources (“IDWR”). In response to a delivery call filed by Rangen, Inc., the Director had issued an order curtailing certain junior-priority ground water pumping in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (“ESPA”). The order provided that the junior-priority ground water users could avoid curtailment by participating in an approved mitigation plan. The Idaho Ground Water Appropriators, Inc. (“IGWA”) filed several mitigation plans for approval. The Director issued an order conditionally approving IGWA’s Fourth Mitigation Plan, which proposed leasing water from another surface water right holder and piping the water to the Rangen facility. Rangen petitioned for review. The district court upheld the Director’s order in significant part. Rangen appealed. Finding no reversible error with the district court's order, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Rangen, Inc. v. Dept of Water Resources" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Rayland Brown was charged by indictment with the felony crime of forcible sexual penetration by use of a foreign object. On the second day of Brown’s jury trial, he and the State agreed to a written plea agreement. One of the provisions of the plea agreement was that the charge would be amended to felony domestic battery. On the same date, the State filed an information charging the crime of felony domestic battery, and Brown pled guilty to that charge. The district court sentenced Brown, and in accordance with the plea agreement the court retained jurisdiction for 365 days. A year later, the court entered an order relinquishing jurisdiction, which resulted in Brown being required to serve a prison sentence of at least fifteen years and up to twenty years, with credit for 483 days already served. Brown filed a motion for reconsideration, and the court reduced the mandatory portion of the prison sentence from fifteen years to eleven years. Brown then filed this civil action seeking post-conviction relief on the ground that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in his criminal case. The district court interpreted the alleged ineffective assistance as being that his counsel advised him that he would receive probation after the period of retained jurisdiction and failed to object to the court’s alleged deviation from the plea agreement. The district court dismissed the petition for post-conviction relief because the court in the underlying case did not deviate from the plea agreement and the plea agreement, which Brown signed, notified him that he may not receive probation because it expressly provided that “[a]t the end of the period of retained jurisdiction, the court would be free to exercise or relinquish jurisdiction in its discretion.” Brown then appealed, challenging whether the court in his criminal case had subject-matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court concluded Brown could not raise that issue for the first time on appeal in this civil action, and affirmed the judgment in this case. View "Brown v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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The Board of Trustees of the Mountain Home School District No. 193 appealed the district court’s denial of the its request for attorney fees. This case arose when School District employee Terri Sanders claimed that the Board breached its contract with her by hiring a candidate less qualified than her for a teaching position that Sanders had also applied for. After a jury found the Board did not breach its contract, the district court held the Board was not entitled to attorney fees because Sanders presented a legitimate issue for trial. The court also held that because I.C. 12-117 was the exclusive source of attorney fees for a school district, I.C. 12-120(3) could not apply. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that attorney fees under I.C. 12-117 were not exclusive. Because fees were available under I.C. 12-120(3), the Court remanded the case for the district court to enter the appropriate award of attorney fees under that statute. The Court also vacated the district court’s award of arbitration costs to the Board. Neither party received attorney fees on appeal. View "Sanders v. Bd of Trustees - Mt. Home School Dist 193" on Justia Law

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A certified question of law from the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho was presented to the Idaho Supreme Court. Karen White and her development company, Elkhorn, LLC, sought to recover $166,496 paid to Valley County for "capital investments for roads in the vicinity of [their] White Cloud development." Phase I of White Cloud was completed and it was undisputed by the parties that the tax monies paid for Phase I were used by the County to complete capital investments for roads in the vicinity of the White Cloud development. The County conceded that it did not adopt an impact fee ordinance or administrative procedures for the impact fee process as required by the Idaho Development Impact Fees Act (IDIFA). The County also conceded it did not enact an IDIFA-compliant ordinance, because, at the time, the County believed in good faith that none was required. Plaintiff filed suit against the County claiming that the road development fee imposed by the County as a condition for approval of the White Cloud project violated Idaho state law and deprived Plaintiff of due process under both the federal and Idaho constitutions. In her Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff raised two claims for relief. The first claim for relief alleged that “Valley County’s practice of requiring developers to enter into a Road Development Agreement ("RDA," or any similar written agreement) solely for the purpose of forcing developers to pay money for its proportionate share of road improvement costs attributable to traffic generated by their development is a disguised impact fee, is illegal and therefore should be enjoined." The first claim for relief also alleged that, because the County failed to enact an impact fee ordinance under IDIFA, the imposition of the road development fees constituted an unauthorized tax. Plaintiff’s second claim for relief alleged that the County’s imposition of the road development fee constituted a taking under the federal and Idaho constitutions. The County argued Plaintiff voluntarily agreed to pay the RDA monies. Plaintiff denies that the payment was voluntary since it was required to obtain the final plat approval. The issue the federal district court presented to the Idaho Supreme Court centered on when the limitations period commences for statutory remedies made available under Idaho law to obtain a refund of an illegal county tax. The Court answered that the limitations period for statutory remedies made available under Idaho law to obtain a refund of an illegal county tax commences upon payment of the tax. View "White v. Valley County" on Justia Law

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Medical Recovery Services, LLC (MRS), a licensed collection agency, appeals from the district court’s order affirming default judgments entered by the magistrate court. Each Respondent’s account indebtedness was assigned to MRS. MRS filed suit to recover payment from each Respondent and also sought $350 in attorney fees from each, based on a contractual provision. None of the Respondents answered the complaints filed by MRS, so MRS filed for default judgments to be entered in each case. The magistrate court entered default judgments as to all Respondents but granted attorney fees in amounts less than the $350 that MRS was requesting under the contracts. MRS asserted that the magistrate erred in awarding attorney fees in the amount of the principal owed by the Respondents for medical services, as opposed to $350, which was the minimum amount that each Respondent contracted to pay. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Medical Recovery Services v. Strawn" on Justia Law

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In 2011, plaintiff-respondent Jamee Wade was shot twice by a Fruitland police officer after an altercation. Intending to file a claim under the Idaho Tort Claims Act, Wade sought copies of investigatory records related to the incident pursuant to the Idaho Public Records Act (IPRA). This appeal arose from a Petition for Access to Public Records filed by plaintiff seeking the disclosure of investigatory records in the possession of the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (CCPA). The district court ordered CCPA to produce the records pursuant to the request, but limited disclosure to Wade and his counsel. CCPA timely appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment: the district court applied an erroneous legal standard in its analysis under I.C. 9-335. The records Wade requested were active investigatory records. View "Wade v. Taylor" on Justia Law