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State v. Ruggiero

Court of Appeals of Idaho

April 28, 2014

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
PHILIP MILTON RUGGIERO, Defendant-Respondent.

2014 Opinion No. 35

Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Deborah A. Bail, District Judge.

Order dismissing information charging three counts of preparing false evidence, reversed.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Jessica M. Lorello, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for appellant. Jessica M. Lorello argued.

Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett LLP; Robyn Fyffe, Boise, for respondent. Robyn Fyffe argued.

GUTIERREZ, Chief Judge

The State appeals from the district court's order dismissing the information charging Philip Milton Ruggiero with three counts of preparing false evidence. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Ruggiero was charged with misdemeanor stalking. While that case was pending, three letters were sent to the magistrate assigned to the case. The letters purported to be from the alleged stalking victim and two other persons indicating they had knowledge of relevant facts concerning the stalking charge. All three letters supported the proposition that Ruggiero was not guilty of the charge. The letters were forwarded to the Boise City prosecutor handling the stalking case, who contacted the alleged victim to inquire whether she had written a letter. The alleged victim said she had not and signed an affidavit to that fact. A detective interrogated Ruggiero as to whether he had written the letters, which Ruggiero denied. Nevertheless, Ruggiero was charged by information with three counts of preparing false evidence in violation of Idaho Code § 18-2602. Following a hearing, a magistrate found probable cause to bind Ruggiero over to district court on the three charges.

Ruggiero filed a motion to dismiss, arguing there was not substantial evidence presented at the preliminary hearing that he committed the crimes alleged. He also argued that section 18-2602 infringes upon speech protected by the First Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court in United States v. Alvarez, 567 U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 2537 (2012), and argued section 18-2602 is void for vagueness. After a hearing, the district court granted the motion to dismiss, relying on Alvarez to find that the statute violated Ruggiero's First Amendment rights. The State now appeals.

II.

ANALYSIS

A. First Amendment

The State contends the district court erred by determining that section 18-2602 unconstitutionally infringed on Ruggiero's First Amendment rights. Where an issue presented involves the constitutionality of a statute, we review the district court's determination de novo. State v. Bonner, 138 Idaho 254, 256, 61 P.3d 611, 613 ...


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