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Ada County v. City of Garden City ex rel. Garden City Council

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise

February 7, 2014

ADA COUNTY and the Board of Ada County Commissioners, Plaintiffs-Respondents,
v.
CITY OF GARDEN CITY, by and through the GARDEN CITY COUNCIL; and City of Meridian, by and through the Meridian City Council, Defendants-Appellants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Moore & Elia, LLP, Boise, for appellant City of Meridian. Michael W. Moore argued.

Garden City Attorney's Office, Garden City, for appellant City of Garden City. Frank Walker argued.

Greg H. Bower, Ada County Prosecuting Attorney, Boise, for respondents. Theodore E. Argyle argued.

J. JONES, Justice.

In 1994, an en banc panel of the district judges of the Fourth Judicial District ordered Garden City and Meridian (the Cities) to provide suitable and adequate quarters for the magistrate's division of the Fourth Judicial District (1994 Order). In addition to providing quarters, the Cities were ordered to provide for the equipment, staff, supplies, and other expenses necessary for the quarters to function properly. The Cities have never complied with the order. In 2010, Ada County brought a declaratory action asking the district judges to find that the 1994 Order is still valid and to require the Cities to comply with it. The Cities responded by filing a motion to vacate the 1994 Order, claiming that the order was invalid because it was entered on an ex parte basis. The en banc panel dismissed Ada County's complaint, holding that a declaratory judgment action is not the appropriate means to determine the validity of the 1994 Order. The panel also denied the Cities' motion to vacate on the grounds that before the 1994 Order was entered, the Cities had received all the process to which they were entitled. The Cities appealed.

I.

BACKGROUND

The Idaho Legislature enacted legislation in 1969 to restructure Idaho's court system. Among other things, the legislation combined the functions of probate courts, police courts, justice of the peace courts, and various other lower courts into a single magistrate's division. City of Boise v. Ada Cnty., 147 Idaho 794, 798, 215 P.3d 514, 518 (2009) (citing 1969 Idaho Sess. Laws chs. 100-28, pp. 344-95; I.C. § 1-103; and I.C. § 1-2201). The reform required each county to provide " quarters for the magistrate's division of the district court, including the facilities and equipment necessary to make the space provided functional for its intended use, and [to] provide for the staff personnel, supplies, and other expenses of the magistrate's division." I.C. § 1-2217. Further, " upon order of a majority of the district judges" in its judicial district, a city must provide such quarters, facilities, equipment and expenses for a magistrate's division. I.C. § 1-2218. " The costs incurred by a county or a city in providing facilities for the magistrate's division are offset through the apportionment" of court-imposed fees. City of Boise, 147 Idaho at 798, 215 P.3d at 518 (citing § 31-3201A).

City of Boise described the Fourth Judicial District's implementation of the reform legislation as follows:

On the day the court reform legislation took effect, January 11, 1971, the district judges of the Fourth Judicial District entered an order requiring Boise City to provide a magistrate's division of the district court. The order stated:
It is hereby Ordered that, pursuant to Section 1-2218, Idaho Code, the City of Boise, Idaho, shall provide suitable and adequate quarters for two magistrates of the Fourth District Court Magistrates Division, including two courtrooms with related facilities and equipment necessary to make the space provided functional for its intended use, and the necessary supplies and non-judicial staff personnel to operate said courts.
To comply with the order, Boise City established magistrate court facilities in an old fire station on Kootenai Street in Boise....
The City's magistrate facilities remained on Kootenai Street until a new facility was opened in August 1981. Construction of the new facility was prompted by an order the district judges of the Fourth Judicial ...

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