Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ring Still Not Retroactive

The Court today reaffirmed its recent decision in Rhoades et al. v. State, 2010 WL 937272 (Mar. 17, 2010), that Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), is not retroactive under Idaho law. Ring held that the jury must find all facts which make a defendant eligible for the death penalty. Idaho law used to allow the judges to make that determination.

State v. Fields,

Rhoades, you might remember, adopted the federal retroactivity rule under state law and then applied this new rule of retroactivity to the defendants and found the new rule in Ring was not retroactive.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Course of Conduct in Felony Stalking Charge May Not Include Acts Constituting Prior Misdemeanor Stalking Conviction

The Court has issued its opinion in State v. Stewart. Mr. Stewart was charged with felony stalking. The Information alleged that a prior misdemeanor stalking was part of the course of conduct constituting the felony. It also alleged that the crime was a felony because Mr. Stewart had been previously convicted of stalking. Mr. Stewart's motion to dismiss the information was denied and he entered a conditional plea of guilty. Today the Court vacated the conviction.

On appeal, the Court first noted that: "To commit the crime of felony stalking, the person must first violate section 18-7906 by engaging in a prohibited course of conduct. That course of conduct requires repeated acts of nonconsensual contact involving the victim or a family or household member of the victim." (Internal citations omitted.) It then held: "To have committed felony stalking under this subsection, Defendant would have to have engaged in a course of conduct that violated section 18-7906 and he would have to have been previously convicted of misdemeanor stalking by earlier engaging in a course of conduct that violated section 18-7906. There would have to be two separate courses of conduct, each of which violates that section. Otherwise, he could not have engaged in a course of conduct that violated section 18-7906 and previously been convicted of misdemeanor stalking." Accordingly, it vacated the conviction and remanded for further proceedings.

The Court also construes the meaning of other subsections of the statute and notes that it appears that Mr. Stewart could not have committed the offenses under those theories either.

Finally, the Court holds that a defendant who has waived a preliminary hearing cannot later dispute whether there is probable cause to charge even if the state amends the information. But he can challenge whether there was probable cause to issue an arrest warrant.

State v. Stewart,

Monday, June 14, 2010

Since We're All Immigration Lawyers Now . . .

In light of Padilla, we've got to keep up on immigration law. So here's a synposis of a SCOTUS opinion issued just this morning regarding aggravated felonies.

In Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, the petitioner, who was seeking discretionary relief from deportation, had two misdemeanor drug possession offenses. One was for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, for which he received 20 days in jail. The other was for possession without a prescription of one tablet of an antianxiety drug, for he received 10 days in jail. He was not charged under a state recidivist provision. Luckily for him, the Court held "that second or subsequent simple possession offenses are not aggravated felonies under §1101(a)(43) when, as in this case, the state conviction is not based on the fact of a prior conviction.”

Opinion at

Friday, June 11, 2010

Canyon Co. Prosecutor to Release Details of Private Contract

"Details on how Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney John Bujak will spend $200,000 for the city of Nampa’s misdemeanor prosecution will come out Monday in a county budget meeting," according to an article in the Idaho Press Tribune. Here's a link:

Last month, Nampa businessman Bob Henry filed a lawsuit seeking records about the contract, after his public records requests were unsuccessful. Bujak maintains the records are not covered by the public records law. The Third District Trial Court Administrator is seeking an out-of-district judge to preside over that case.

Bujak said that $400,000 of the approximately $600,000 contact has gone for salaries and rest is being held for overhead. Apparently, overhead is set to be paid in a lump sum at the end of the year.

My question is what's happening to the interest on that money? Of course, 3% on that amount doesn't add up to much, but it seems to me that it all belongs to Canyon County.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today at the Court

The Court will hear argument in two cases today. One of those is State v. Yeoman.

Richard Yeoman, a registered sex offender in Washington, moved to Idaho in 2007. He was later charged for failing to register. After his motion to dismiss was denied, he entered a conditional plea of guilty preserving his right to appeal.

Mr. Yeoman argues that the sex offender registration statute doesn't apply to him because he was convicted in 1984. Subsections (a), (b) and (d) of I.C. 18-8304 say that the registration requirements apply to those who have been convicted, or who are incarcerated or on supervision as of July 1, 1993, including those who have been convicted in other states. Subsection (c) doesn't have a trigger date, but states that the chapter applies to everyone who "was required to register as a sex offender in any other state or jurisdiction and enters the state to establish permanent or temporary residence." Subsections (b) and (c) of the statute appear to be inconsistent.

Alternatively, he argues that, if the statute applies, it violates his right to travel and gives special preference to citizens of Idaho over other U.S. citizens in violation of the equal protection clause.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Today at the Court

The Court will hear argument in two cases today, one civil and the other criminal. The criminal case is State v. Stewart, an appeal from the denial of a motion to dismiss a first degree stalking charge.

The central basis for the motion to dismiss is that the charging document fails to allege a "course of conduct," an element of stalking. The complaining witness said that she had received e-mails from Mr. Stewart in violation of a no contact order. Mr. Stewart admitted to sending an e-mail. In response to the motion, the State amended its complaint twice and a hearing was held on the motion. The district court denied the motion, finding that the State’s amended information was sufficient. Mr. Stewart then entered a conditional plea of guilty permitting him to appeal the district court's ruling.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Substitute Opinion in Death Penalty Case

The Court issued a substitute opinion in State v. Shackelford today. The results remain the same. Mr. Shackelford's conviction is affirmed, but he gets a new sentencing hearing. The only change in the opinion appears to be the omission of a comment in footnote 3 that Shackelford did not make a confrontation clause objection at trial.

State v. Shackelford,

Parental Drug Testing as Condition of Juvenile Probation Unconstitutional

The Supreme Court has unanimously held that the juvenile court may not order the parents of a juvenile to undergo drug testing as a condition of their child's probation.

The Court wrote: "In summary, the magistrate’s order requiring the Does to undergo urinalysis testing constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that is presumptively invalid absent a warrant. The intrusion is not extraordinarily invasive, but the Does do not have a diminished expectation of privacy in their bodies simply because their daughter is on juvenile probation. The search is therefore unconstitutional because it primarily furthers the State’s interest in law enforcement."

State v. Jane Doe, II and John Doe, I,

Suspect's Silence Does Not Invoke Miranda Right to Remain Silent

The United States Supreme Court held today that a suspect's silence during a interrogation did not invoke his right to remain silent. Just as a suspect’s Miranda right to counsel must be invoked "unambiguously" under Davis v. United States, 512 U. S. 452 (1994), if the accused makes an "ambiguous or equivocal" statement or no statement as to his right to remain silent, the police are not required to end the interrogation or ask questions to clarify the accused’s intent.

The suspect, Van Chester Thompkins, was arrested and then Mirandized. Two officers then interrogated him for three hours about a fatal shooting. While mostly silent during the interrogation, Thompkins never said that he wanted to remain silent or that he wanted an attorney. Eventually, he answered "yes" when asked if he prayed to God to forgive him for the shooting.

The state courts found there was no Miranda violation as did the federal district court on habeas review. The Sixth Circuit reversed the district court, holding that the state courts erred in finding an implied waiver of Thompkins’ right to remain silent. The Supreme Court reversed.

It found that Thompkins never unambiguously invoked his right to remain silent and further waived that right when he made the "yes" statement to police. Thus, it appears that if the state can establish that Miranda warnings were given and understood by the suspect, a later uncoerced statement will establish an implied waiver.

The Court also rejected a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to request a limiting instruction because Thompson could not show the error, if any, prejudiced him.

Berghuis v. Thompkins,