Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Criminal
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Riley Lodge appealed a no contact order entered against him as a result of his being convicted of two counts of sexual battery of a minor child sixteen or seventeen years of age. After Lodge pleaded guilty to these two counts, the district court entered a no contact order which prohibited Lodge from having contact with the named victims and “[a]ll minor children.” On appeal, Lodge contended the district court abused its discretion by failing to provide an exception to the no contact order for two minor children who were also his biological children, and who were conceived as a result of the underlying sexual batteries. Lodge argued the district court failed to exercise reason because there was no evidence that he posed a threat to his own children. The Idaho Supreme Court found no abuse of discretion and affirmed the district court and the no contact order. View "Idaho v. Lodge" on Justia Law

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Martin Edmo Ish appealed his conviction and sentence for one count of voluntary manslaughter. The State charged Ish with second-degree murder in November 2015 for the June 2009 killing of Eugene Lorne Red Elk in Pocatello, Idaho. Ish and friends were barhopping when at some point, Ish had a confrontation with staff at the Bourbon Barrel. Ish and his friends went a few blocks away to Duffy's Tavern. The friends returned to the Bourbon Barrel, but Ish did not; Barrel staff called Duffy's to alert them of Ish's earlier confrontation. Red Elk was working at Duffy's as a bouncer. He asked Ish to leave, and Ish complied. Later that night, however, Red Elk was discovered in Duffy's parking lot "gurgling blood." He had suffered a brain injury from blunt force trauma to the head; despite being life-flighted to a medical center in Idaho Falls, Red Elk died three days later. TO police, Ish admitted that he “blasted” Red Elk and he “was pretty sure he killed him because he was laying [sic] there gurgling.” A trial was held in April 2017 after which the jury found Ish guilty of the lesser-included charge of voluntary manslaughter. Ish appealed, claiming the trial order erred in seating and instructing the jury, and in making certain evidentiary rulings. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the judgment of conviction and remand for a new trial. The Supreme Court determined the district court’s finding that the prosecution did not strike Juror 3 with discriminatory intent was clearly erroneous. The Court affirmed the trial court in all other respects. View "Idaho v. Ish" on Justia Law

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Michael Hayes was convicted by jury of felony battery on a correctional officer. Hayes appealed his judgment of conviction on three grounds: (1) the district court erred by failing to issue subpoenas for two medical professionals; (2) the district court abused its discretion by allowing the State to inquire into prior instances of Hayes’ conduct towards correctional officers; and (3) the district court abused its discretion by denying Hayes’ motion for a new trial. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order denying Hayes’ requests for subpoenas, and held that the district court abused its discretion by allowing the State to inquire into prior instances of Hayes’ conduct. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals vacated the district court’s judgment of conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. The Idaho Supreme Court granted the State’s petition for review, and finding the district court did not err in issuing its judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court and affirmed the trial court's judgment of conviction. View "Idaho v. Hayes" on Justia Law

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Thomas Hooley appealed a district court’s decision to dismiss his pro se filing entitled “Motion For New Trial Based on Evidence withheld in violation of Brady with attached exhibits in support of motion.” In July 2014, a jury convicted Hooley of first-degree kidnapping and aiding and abetting aggravated battery. Hooley unsuccessfully appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals. The Idaho Supreme Court denied his petition for review and issued a remittitur on December 18, 2015. In May 2018, Hooley lodged a pro se filing with the district court. Almost 200 pages in length, the first pages of the filing were a “sparse” legal template on which Hooley handwrote information. In the substantive portion of the motion, Hooley wrote that a “New Trial motion based on evidence withheld in violation of Brady cannot be denied on basis that new trial would not have produced different outcome and such violations not subject to harmless error analysis.” He also included statements of law and citations. The district court treated the filing as an untimely motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence under Idaho Criminal Rule 34. The district court denied the motion as untimely, reasoning that Hooley’s motion was filed outside of the 2-year time constraint on Rule 34 motions because his underlying judgment of conviction became final on December 18, 2015, when the remittitur was issued. Hooley appealed and argued that the district court should have construed his filing as a petition for post-conviction relief. The Court of Appeals affirmed. After granting Hooley’s timely petition for review, the Idaho Supreme Court concurred with the district court and affirmed its order. View "Idaho v. Hooley" on Justia Law

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Dave Christensen was indicted by a grand jury on five counts of lewd conduct with two minors under sixteen. The State notified Christensen of its intent to introduce interviews of the two alleged victims at trial under Idaho Rules of Evidence (“I.R.E.”) 803(4) and 803(24). At a pretrial hearing, the district court ruled the interviews were admissible because the victims’ statements were made for purposes of medical diagnosis or treatment. The interviews were admitted at trial by stipulation. A jury found Christensen guilty on four of the five counts. Christensen appealed the district court’s admission of the interviews. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho v. Christensen" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey Marsalis appealed a district court’s decision summarily dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2009 rape conviction. Marsalis alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to: (1) challenge the testimony of the State’s expert witness regarding his and the victim’s blood alcohol levels; (2) present favorable eyewitness testimony at trial; and (3) properly advise him of his speedy trial rights under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD). After review, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed in part, and affirmed in part the district court's decision. The Court affirmed the district court’s summary dismissal of Marsalis’s claim that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call an allegedly favorable eyewitness at trial. However, it reversed and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing on Marsalis’s claim that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the underlying methodologies supporting the State’s expert witness’s testimony and for failing to present an expert witness to discuss the scientific basis behind Marsalis’s blackout defense. The Court also remanded the case back to the district court so it could provide Marsalis with twenty days’ notice to respond to the court’s grounds for dismissing Marsalis’s claim that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to inform him of his speedy trial rights under the IAD. View "Marsalis v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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In 2011, a district court granted Aaron Roth a temporary furlough while he was in jail for a probation violation. Under the furlough order, Roth was released from custody. Roth failed to return. In 2017, six years after he absconded, Roth was arrested and later charged with escape, a felony under Idaho Code section 18-2505. A jury found Roth guilty of escape. Roth then moved the district court for a judgment of acquittal under Idaho Criminal Rule (“I.C.R.”) 29, or in the alternative, to dismiss pursuant to I.C.R. 48(a)(2). The district court granted the motion to dismiss under I.C.R. 48(a)(2). The State appealed the district court’s dismissal. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court abused its discretion by dismissing Roth's case. "This ruling extended the reach of due process too far. ... Due process is not a rigid standard and is satisfied when a defendant is provided notice and an opportunity to be heard. Roth had his opportunity to be heard and was sufficiently notified of the furlough order’s requirements to satisfy due process based on the district court explaining the details of the furlough order on the record at the arraignment hearing. The fact, as found by the district court, that Roth did not receive a written copy of the furlough order does not vitiate the notice that Roth had received in court from the judge." The Supreme Court reversed dismissal and remanded for further proceedings. View "Idaho v. Roth" on Justia Law

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The State appealed a district court decision to grant defendant David Pool’s motion to suppress the results of a warrantless blood draw on the grounds that it was an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In 2016, a police officer came upon the scene of an automobile accident involving two vehicles, one of which was driven by Pool. Pool had failed to negotiate a turn and his vehicle was hit by oncoming traffic. He was not wearing a seatbelt and his airbag deployed in the crash. As a result, he sustained a head injury and was unconscious when the officer arrived at the scene. Pool’s son, a passenger in the vehicle, informed the officer that Pool had not been staying in his traffic lane prior to the crash. He also asserted that the doctors who had prescribed medication to Pool never told him that he could not drive while taking his medications. When Pool regained consciousness, the officer questioned him and noted that he appeared “very lethargic” and “had a presentation similar to a drunk driver . . . slurred speech and thick tongue and obviously disoriented.” Pool told the officer that he believed he had taken his prescription medications that day. Shortly thereafter, a large “baggy” containing seven bottles of prescription medication was recovered from Pool’s vehicle. The officer recognized several of the medications and suspected that they had caused Pool to be impaired. Around that time, Pool and his son were taken to the hospital. The officer followed to question Pool further. At the hospital, the officer ruled out alcohol as a cause of Pool’s impairment based upon the results of a horizontal gaze nystagmus test. The officer did not conduct other field sobriety tests, as he believed Pool’s medical condition rendered it improper for him to do so. Instead, he obtained a blood sample to be used for evidentiary testing. The issue this appeal presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review centered on the officer’s justification for obtaining the blood sample without a warrant. The State maintained that pursuant to Idaho’s implied consent law, I.C. 18-8002(1), the search was reasonable and the district court erred in requiring proof of exigency. The Supreme Court concurred and reversed the district court. View "Idaho v. Pool" on Justia Law

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Shane Lee Dobbs appealed his conviction and the resulting sentence imposed after he pled guilty of lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen. On appeal, Dobbs contended the district court abused its discretion in fashioning a sentence based in part on a desire to “deter[ ] private vengeance” against him. Dobbs also contended his unified sentence of twenty-two years, with ten years fixed, was excessive in light of the mitigating factors. Finding no reversible error or abuse of discretion, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed Dobbs’ judgment of conviction and sentence. View "Idaho v. Dobbs" on Justia Law

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This appeal stems from a criminal defense attorney’s failure to adequately advise his client about the client’s constitutional rights against self-incrimination during a related civil deposition. Melvin Savage was convicted of first-degree arson and misdemeanor stalking. He filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming that his trial counsel failed to adequately advise him about his rights under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I Section 13 of the Idaho Constitution during a deposition in the civil case initiated by the victims of the arson. The district court granted the State’s motion for summary dismissal of the post-conviction petition. Savage then filed a pro se motion for relief from judgment under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) which was not considered. Savage then timely appealed the district court’s grant of summary dismissal and its order refusing to consider his Rule 60(b) motion. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in summarily dismissing Savage’s petition for post-conviction relief because Savage raised a genuine issue of material fact regarding his counsel’s deficient performance. Therefore, the Court reversed the district court’s decision granting the State’s motion for summary dismissal. View "Savage v. Idaho" on Justia Law