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Gordon v. Boise County

May 13, 2013

GORDON RAVENSCROFT, PETITIONER-RESPONDENT,
v.
BOISE COUNTY, IDAHO, A COUNTY ORGANIZED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF IDAHO; BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS FOR BOISE COUNTY; JAMES A. ANDERSON, TERRY C. DAY, ROBERT A. FRY, COMMISSIONERS; CHERESE D. MCCLAIN, DEPUTY COUNTY PROSECUTOR; AND JOHN DOES I-X, RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Boise County. Hon. Patrick H. Owen, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burdick, Chief Justice

2013 Opinion No. 57

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

The district court's determination is affirmed.

This is a permissive appeal of the district court's denial of the Board of Commissioners for Boise County's ("the Board") motion to dismiss Gordon Ravenscroft's petition for judicial review.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On May 11, 2011, Gordon Ravenscroft filed a Petition for Judicial Review against Boise County, its Board of Commissioners, and other individual defendants. The petition sought review of the Board's final decision terminating Ravenscroft's employment. The petition claimed Ravenscroft was denied his constitutional right to due process, the board acted outside the bounds of its authority, and his firing was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion. In response, the Board filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the district court was without jurisdiction to hear an appeal of a county personnel determination. The district court determined that it had jurisdiction over the Board's decision to terminate Ravenscroft because the decision was an "action" under I.C. § 31-1506. The Board then sought permission to appeal this decision, which the district court granted.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

This Court exercises free review over questions of statutory construction, "which includes whether a statute provides for judicial review, and the standard of review to be applied if judicial review is available." Gibson v. Ada Cnty., 142 Idaho 746, 751, 133 P.3d 1211, 1216 (2006) (Gibson III) (internal citation omitted).

III. ANALYSIS

The question in this case is whether the Board's decision to terminate Ravenscroft is subject to the judicial review provisions of the Idaho Administrative Procedure Act [IAPA]. The IAPA and its judicial review provisions do not apply to the actions of local governing bodies, unless expressly authorized by statute. Gibson v. Ada Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, 139 Idaho 5, 7, 72 P.3d 845, 847 (2003) (Gibson I); I.R.C.P. 84(1). Boise County contends that because chapter fifteen of the Idaho Code is titled "County Finances and Claims against County," section 31- 1506 only applies to a board's decisions regarding monetary claims against the county. Boise County further argues that section 31-1506 is ambiguous and this Court should not interpret it as providing judicial review of personnel decisions because this interpretation is not what the legislature intended, would lead to an absurd result, and would conflict with the at-will employment doctrine. Ravenscroft responds that the plain meaning of I.C. § 31-1506(1) provides express statutory authority for courts to review the actions of a board of county commissioners ("board").

A. The Board's decision to terminate Ravenscroft is an "act, order or proceeding" under I.C. § 31-1506.

Idaho Code section 31-1506(1) states: "Unless otherwise provided by law, judicial review of any act, order or proceeding of the board shall be initiated by any person aggrieved thereby within the same time and in the same manner as provided in chapter 52, title 67, Idaho Code, for judicial review of actions." This section only provides judicial review of a board's actions in the absence of more specific statutory provisions addressing judicial review. Giltner Dairy v. Jerome Cnty., 150 Idaho 559, 562, 249 P.3d 358, 361 (2011). Neither party has alleged that review of a board's decision to terminate an employee is "otherwise provided by law." The main question the parties raise is whether the Board's decision to terminate Ravenscroft is the type of proceeding for which I.C. § 31-1506 provides review.

Boise County first argues that the plain meaning of I.C. § 31-1506 only provides judicial review for monetary claims against the county as it is found in the county finance chapter of the Idaho Code. This Court has already declined to follow this narrow interpretation of I.C. § 31- 1506. Giltner Dairy, 150 Idaho at 561, 249 P.3d at 360. Specifically, this Court stated that it "has given an expansive reading to I.C. § 31-1506, notwithstanding the fact that the provision is included in a chapter that addresses county finances." Id. Boise County argues that this statement from Giltner Dairy is misleading because three of the ...


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