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State v. Peterson

July 22, 2010


Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Elmore County. Hon. Michael E. Wetherell, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Melanson, Judge

2010 Opinion No. 50

Order relinquishing jurisdiction, affirmed.

Trent M.G. Peterson appeals from the district court's order relinquishing jurisdiction. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.


Peterson pled guilty to issuing insufficient fund checks. I.C. § 18-3106(b). On August 18, 2008, the district court sentenced Peterson to a unified term of three years, with a minimum period of confinement of one year. However, the district court retained jurisdiction for 180 days pursuant to I.C. § 19-2601(4).*fn1 The district court ordered that Peterson be committed to the custody of the county sheriff for delivery within seven days to the Idaho State Board of Correction. Peterson was not delivered to the Board or transported to the rider facility but was transported to another county for disposition of other pending charges.

On February 25, 2009, 190 days after retaining jurisdiction, the district court issued an order extending its jurisdiction in the case by thirty days. The court determined that it needed more time to properly dispose of the matter because Peterson had not been transported to the rider facility. However, after a hearing, the district court concluded that it did not have the authority under I.C. § 19-2601(4) to issue the order extending its jurisdiction because the order was issued after the expiration of the 180-day time period. The court then entered an order relinquishing jurisdiction, and Peterson was remanded to the custody of the Board for execution of his original sentence. Peterson filed an I.C.R. 35 motion for reduction of his sentence, which the district court denied. Peterson appeals.


Peterson argues that the district court erred because it incorrectly interpreted I.C. § 19-2601(4) to require that the thirty-day extension be ordered prior to the expiration of the 180-day period of retained jurisdiction. Further, Peterson contends that the district court abused its discretion when it relinquished jurisdiction because the 180-day period of jurisdiction had not began to run, as Peterson was never physically placed into the custody of the Board. Alternatively, Peterson asserts that, even if the district court did not have jurisdiction under the statute, it possessed inherent authority under the Idaho Constitution to place Peterson on probation.

A. Jurisdiction Under I.C. § 19-2601(4)

Peterson argues that the district court's interpretation of I.C. § 19-2601(4) was in error. This Court exercises free review over the application and construction of statutes. State v. Reyes, 139 Idaho 502, 505, 80 P.3d 1103, 1106 (Ct. App. 2003). Where the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, this Court must give effect to the statute as written, without engaging in statutory construction. State v. Rhode, 133 Idaho 459, 462, 988 P.2d 685, 688 (1999); State v. Burnight, 132 Idaho 654, 659, 978 P.2d 214, 219 (1999); State v. Escobar, 134 Idaho 387, 389, 3 P.3d 65, 67 (Ct. App. 2000). The language of the statute is to be given its plain, obvious, and rational meaning. Burnight, 132 Idaho at 659, 978 P.2d at 219. If the language is clear and unambiguous, there is no occasion for the court to resort to legislative history or rules of statutory interpretation. Escobar, 134 Idaho at 389, 3 P.3d at 67. When this Court must engage in statutory construction, it has the duty to ascertain the legislative intent and give effect to that intent. Rhode, 133 Idaho at 462, 988 P.2d at 688. To ascertain the intent of the legislature, not only must the literal words of the statute be examined, but also the context of those words, the public policy behind the statute and its legislative history. Id. It is incumbent upon a court to give a statute an interpretation which will not render it a nullity. State v. Beard, 135 Idaho 641, 646, 22 P.3d 116, 121 (Ct. App. 2001). Constructions of a statute that would lead to an absurd result are disfavored. State v. Doe, 140 Idaho 271, 275, 92 P.3d 521, 525 (2004); State v. Yager, 139 Idaho 680, 690, 85 P.3d 656, 666 (2004).

Idaho Code Section 19-2601(4) states in part that, whenever any person pleads guilty to a crime (except treason or murder), the district court in its discretion may:

Suspend the execution of the judgment at any time during the first one hundred eighty (180) days of a sentence to the custody of the state board of correction. The court shall retain jurisdiction over the prisoner for the first one hundred eighty (180) days or, if the prisoner is a juvenile, until the juvenile reaches twenty-one (21) years of age. The prisoner will remain committed to the board of correction if not affirmatively placed on probation by the court. In extraordinary circumstances, where the court concludes that it is unable to obtain and evaluate the relevant information within the one hundred eighty (180) day period of retained jurisdiction, or where the court concludes that a hearing is required and is unable to obtain the defendant's presence for such a hearing within such period, the court may decide ...

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