Review Denied Aug. 29, 2013.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, LLP, Boise, for appellant. Robyn A. Fyffe argued.
Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Mark W. Olson, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Mark W. Olson argued.
John Doe appeals from the district court's order, on intermediate appeal, reversing the magistrate's order granting Doe's motion to expunge his record pursuant to Idaho Code § 20-525A.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In July 1997, when Doe was fourteen years old, he committed the crime of tobacco possession by a minor in violation of I.C. § 18-1502. In December 1997, the State accused him of coming within the purview of the Juvenile Corrections Act (JCA) for committing the felony offense of burglary and the misdemeanor offenses of petit theft, being a runaway, and being beyond the control of his parents. In January 1998, the State filed a JCA petition again accusing Doe of being a runaway. He admitted to committing the offenses and was sentenced to juvenile probation.
In the instant case, in September 1998, Doe was cited for possession of marijuana. In May 1999, Doe pled guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia by a minor in violation of I.C. § 18-1502C and was sentenced to pay a fine and costs. In December 2000, at the age of seventeen, Doe was charged with possession of marijuana. However, on that occasion, the State asserted that Doe fell within the purview of the JCA for violating I.C. § 37-2732(c)(3), rather than charging him for a second time with a misdemeanor under I.C. § 18-1502C. In October 2001, Doe was charged with underage consumption of alcohol under I.C. § 23-949.
Sometime after Doe's eighteenth birthday, he began to turn his life around. Doe attempted to enlist in the Army, but was turned away because of his juvenile record. In October 2006, Doe petitioned the juvenile court for expungement of his record. In November 2006, the juvenile court expunged Doe's JCA cases; however, his misdemeanors for: (1) possession of drug paraphernalia; (2) tobacco possession; and (3) underage consumption of alcohol were not expunged. The expungement of his JCA cases was sufficient to allow him to enlist in the Army. Doe was deployed to Iraq for fifteen months, returned in February 2009, and was honorably released from active duty in the spring of 2010.
Doe sought work as a correctional officer while he attended the College of Western Idaho. Doe was unable to obtain employment as a correctional officer because of his misdemeanor conviction in this case. In September 2010, Doe filed a motion to expunge the records associated with the conviction of his misdemeanor. Doe brought the motion pursuant to I.C. § 20-525A, which permits individuals to petition for expungement of records from proceedings adjudicated under the purview of the JCA. In the alternative, Doe sought to have his record expunged pursuant to Idaho Court Administrative Rule 32(i) or the magistrate's inherent authority. Doe also argued that if I.C. § 20-525A does not provide him with relief, then the statute violates the Equal Protection Clauses of the United States and Idaho Constitutions. The State objected to Doe's motion, arguing the magistrate court did not have authority to expunge the records.
The magistrate granted Doe's motion pursuant to I.C. § 20-525A. While recognizing that I.C. § 20-525A only provided for the expungement of records of proceedings adjudicated under the purview of the JCA, the magistrate reasoned:
In this case, the state had the option of pursuing the possession of marijuana charge under the JCA or Idaho Code § 18-1502C. As previously noted, the charge was ultimately resolved with fines and costs of $213.50, and no other punishment, classes or probation. Since the state
contemporaneously dismissed a failure to appear citation, it appears likely that the resolution was part of a negotiated plea agreement. In choosing to pursue under section 18-1502C it appears the state did not feel it necessary to subject Defendant to the JCA and was pursuing a less onerous outcome. I have no reason to believe that the state[']s seemingly benign decision not to proceed under the JCA was designed to deprive Defendant of his right to expungement under that Act. In fact, in providing the option of prosecuting cases involving possession of marijuana by minors under Idaho Code § 18-1502C, it is unlikely the legislature intended to create a loophole where this type of misdemeanor is ineligible for expungement while other more serious non-violent crimes remain eligible.
The magistrate did not, however, expunge the records of the convictions for possession of tobacco or underage consumption of alcohol.
The State appealed the magistrate's determination. In its intermediate appellate capacity, the district court reversed the magistrate. The district court concluded that only the records of proceedings adjudicated under the JCA were eligible for expungement and the misdemeanor crime did not fall within the plain wording of the JCA. The district court also rejected Doe's alternative arguments to affirm the magistrate's order. The district court did, however, remand the case to the ...