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State of Idaho v. Randy Paul Koivu

March 1, 2012

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
RANDY PAUL KOIVU, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for Bonner County. The Hon. Benjamin Simpson, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eismann, Justice.

2012 Opinion No. 32

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

The order of the district court is affirmed.

This is an appeal asking that we overrule State v. Guzman, 122 Idaho 981, 842 P.2d 660 (1992), and hold that the Leon good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies to violations of Article I, section 17, of the Idaho Constitution. Because the State has not shown any ground for doing so, we decline to overrule that case and affirm the order of the district court suppressing evidence obtained incident to an arrest pursuant to a wrongly issued warrant.

I.

Factual Background

Randy Koivu (Defendant) was charged with the crime of possession of methamphetamine in Boundary County. He was found guilty of that crime, and on January 6, 2004, the district court sentenced him to five years in the custody of the Idaho Board of Correction, with three years fixed and two years indeterminate. The court suspended that sentence and placed Defendant on probation for four years. The terms of probation included that Defendant pay a fine of $500.00, court costs of $88.50, public defender reimbursement of $300.00, and restitution of $100.00. Defendant later violated the terms of his probation, and on November 1, 2005, the court entered an order revoking his probation and committing him to the custody of the Idaho Board of Correction. Defendant was released from prison on July 2, 2009.

On October 1, 2009, a deputy court clerk in Boundary County filed an affidavit in the Boundary County case stating that Defendant had failed to pay a fine and court costs in the sum of $1,028.50. On December 1, 2009, the same deputy clerk filed another affidavit stating that Defendant had failed to comply with a court order requiring him to pay a fine and costs totaling $588.50 by July 6, 2006. On December 8, 2009, the district court issued a warrant of attachment in the Boundary County case to have Defendant seized and brought before the court to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt for his "failure to comply with that certain order of the Court, a copy of which is attached hereto." No copy of any order was attached to the warrant of attachment, but bail was set in the amount of $588.50, and the warrant further stated that the contempt would be purged and the defendant released upon Defendant posting cash in the amount of $588.50. Neither any law enforcement officer nor the prosecuting attorney had any involvement in generating the affidavits or issuing the warrant of attachment.

On March 5, 2010, two sheriff deputies in neighboring Bonner County lawfully stopped a car for speeding. Defendant was the driver of the car. In running a background check of Defendant, the officers were informed that there was a warrant for his arrest out of Boundary County. Reasonably relying upon the validity of the warrant, the deputies arrested Defendant and transported him to the Bonner County jail. Defendant was arrested only because of the warrant; he could not have been arrested for speeding. While searching Defendant at the jail, a baggie of methamphetamine was discovered near his feet.

On March 5, 2010, Defendant was charged in Bonner County with possession of methamphetamine. Defendant waived his right to a preliminary hearing, and on March 17, 2010, the prosecuting attorney filed an information charging Defendant with that crime. The prosecutor also alleged in the information that Defendant was a persistent violator, having had two prior felony convictions.

On April 8, 2010, the prosecuting attorney in Boundary County moved to dismiss the warrant of attachment pursuant to which Defendant had been arrested. On May 4, 2010, the district court entered an order dismissing it on the ground that "the Court lacked jurisdiction to issue the warrant on December 8, 2009." The lack of jurisdiction was apparently based upon the fact that the district court had not sentenced Defendant to a fine of $500.00 and court costs of $88.50, but had only ordered him to pay such sums as a condition of probation. Upon the revocation of his probation, Defendant was no longer required to pay them. As a result, the district court in the Bonner County case issued an order suppressing the methamphetamine. The State then timely appealed.

II.

Do We Have Jurisdiction to Hear This Appeal?

"[S]ubject matter jurisdiction is an issue that this Court may raise sua sponte at any time." Johnson v. Blaine County, 146 Idaho 916, 924, 204 P.3d 1127, 1135 (2009). Pursuant to Idaho Appellate Rule 11(c)(7), an appeal may be taken as a matter of right from "[a]n order granting a motion to suppress evidence." In this case, Defendant never formally made a motion to suppress any evidence.

The court minutes in the Bonner County case reflect that at Defendant's arraignment his counsel stated she would file a motion to suppress if the district court in the Boundary County case granted the prosecutor's motion to dismiss the warrant of attachment. After the court did so, defense counsel in the Bonner County case filed a brief in support of a motion to suppress in which she argued that under State v. Guzman, 122 Idaho 981, 842 P.2d 660 (1992), "[t]he Leon 'good faith exception' to the exclusionary rule is not applicable to the Idaho Constitution." The Bonner County deputy prosecutor responded by filing a brief in response "to Defendant's Motion to Suppress" in which he argued that Guzman should be overruled. The deputy prosecutor also filed a stipulation of facts signed by both parties, which recited that it was "for the purposes of the Defendants' Motions to Suppress." The parties then filed a written waiver of oral argument "on Defendant's Motion to Suppress." On September 1, 2010, the district court entered its decision addressing the State's criticisms of Guzman and concluding that "Defendant's Motion to Suppress is hereby GRANTED." However, the Defendant had not ever filed a motion to suppress. In addition, Defendant's brief did not identify the evidence he wanted suppressed; the State's response simply stated that "the defendant has moved to suppress this matter," without identifying what "this matter" was; and the court granted the Defendant's motion without identifying what evidence it had ordered suppressed. From the facts set forth in the stipulation, it ...


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