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State of Idaho v. Skylar Gill

November 23, 2010

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SKYLAR GILL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Twin Falls County. Hon. Randy J. Stoker, District Judge.

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

2010 Opinion No. 78

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

Order denying Rule 35 motions, affirmed.

Pro Tem

Skylar Gill appeals from the district court's orders denying his I.C.R. 35 motions for reduction of the sentences imposed upon his guilty pleas to possession of a controlled substance, I.C. § 37-2732(c)(1), and aggravated battery, I.C. §§ 18-903(b), 18-907(a). For the reasons set forth herein, we affirm.

In June 2008, an officer initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle in which Gill was a passenger. After the driver of the vehicle was arrested for failing to purchase a driver's license, the officer searched the vehicle and found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in a backpack owned by Gill. Gill was charged with possession of a controlled substance in Docket No. 36871. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Gill pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance and an unrelated charge of possession of a controlled substance was dismissed. The state agreed to recommend a period of retained jurisdiction.

In October 2008, while in the Twin Falls County jail awaiting sentencing on his possession charge, Gill struck another inmate, fracturing the inmate's jaw. The state charged Gill, in Docket No. 36872, with aggravated battery. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Gill pled guilty to aggravated battery and the state agreed to recommend a period of retained jurisdiction to run concurrent with the sentence imposed in Docket No. 36871.

At a consolidated sentencing hearing, the district court imposed a unified sentence of five years, with two years fixed, for the possession of a controlled substance charge, and a unified sentence of seven years, with three years fixed, for the aggravated battery charge. The district court ordered that the sentences run concurrently and retained jurisdiction in both cases. Following the retained jurisdiction period, the district court relinquished jurisdiction and ordered the balance of Gill's sentences executed.

Gill filed Rule 35 motions for reduction of his sentences. Gill requested that the district court "consider giving him another opportunity on the retained jurisdiction program with his medication appropriately adjusted" or, alternatively, "to consider reducing his fixed time to 1 year." Following an evidentiary hearing on Gill's motions, the district court denied Gill's request for leniency. The district court held that it was without statutory authority to grant Gill a second period of retained jurisdiction without an intervening period of probation and that Gill failed to produce sufficient grounds to warrant a reduction of his fixed terms.

Gill appealed and the cases were consolidated on appeal. Gill asserts that the district court abused its discretion when it failed to recognize that it had the authority to order a second period of retained jurisdiction. Alternatively, Gill contends that the district court abused its discretion by failing to reduce Gill's sentences pursuant to his Rule 35 motions.

A. Second Retained Jurisdiction without an Intervening Period of Probation

As an initial issue, we must address whether the district court lacked statutory authority to order a second period of retained jurisdiction in Gill's case without having first placed him on probation. The state argues that I.C. § 19-2601(4) authorizes a court to order a second period of retained jurisdiction only if the defendant is first placed on probation at the end of the initial period of retained jurisdiction. In this case, the district court retained jurisdiction for 180 days. At the end of the retained jurisdiction period the district court relinquished jurisdiction. Gill filed Rule 35 motions requesting the district court to grant Gill a second retained jurisdiction. The district court denied Gill's motions holding it was without statutory authority to grant Gill a second period of retained jurisdiction without an intervening period of probation. The state contends that the district court was correct in its interpretation of the statute and therefore no abuse of discretion has been shown.

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 ...


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