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State v. Freitas

Court of Appeals of Idaho

August 12, 2014

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
MICHAEL JAY FREITAS, Defendant-Appellant

2014 Opinion No. 61.

Page 598

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 599

Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Lansing L. Haynes, District Judge. Hon. Clark Peterson, Magistrate.

Order of the district court, on appeal from the magistrate division, affirming judgment of conviction for transferring water in violation of a city ordinance, affirmed.

John M. Adams, Kootenai County Public Defender; Jay Logsdon, Deputy Public Defender, Coeur d'Alene, for appellant. Jay Logsdon argued.

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

MELANSON, Judge. Chief Judge GUTIERREZ and Judge GRATTON, CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 600

[157 Idaho 260] MELANSON, Judge

Michael Jay Freitas appeals from the district court's order, entered in its intermediate appellate capacity, affirming Freitas's judgment of conviction for transferring water in violation of Spirit Lake City Ordinance 7-4-10. Freitas specifically alleges that the ordinance is unconstitutional and that the district court erred in affirming his judgment of conviction despite various asserted errors by the magistrate. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Freitas was cited for providing water to a neighbor's residence in violation of Spirit Lake City Ordinance 7-4-10. An officer observed that a hose had been connected to a spigot on the outside of Freitas's home, that the hose was also connected to his neighbor's home, and that water was leaking from the connections. The neighbor's water service had been turned off due to nonpayment. The officer gave Freitas a verbal warning that he was violating the city ordinance by connecting city water to a third person for use in a residence that was not otherwise provided with city water service. The officer then gave Freitas a copy of the ordinance and left. The officer returned the next day and cited Freitas after finding that he was continuing to provide water to his neighbor in violation of the ordinance. Freitas told the officer that he did not think he was doing anything wrong since the water he was providing had gone through his meter and been paid for.

Freitas filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the ordinance was unconstitutional on its face and as applied under various provisions of the federal and state constitutions. The magistrate denied the motion. Freitas went to trial before a jury. At the close of the state's evidence, Freitas moved for judgment of acquittal under Idaho Criminal Rule 29(a) based on alleged insufficiency of the evidence, which the magistrate also denied. Freitas subsequently requested a jury instruction that restated the first line of the ordinance regarding the city's ownership of the water system. The magistrate denied the requested instruction, finding that there was no factual dispute over ownership of the water system. The jury ultimately found Freitas guilty of violating the ordinance and the magistrate imposed a fine of $500,[1] but stayed imposition of the sentence pending appeal pursuant to I.C.R. 54.5(a). Freitas appealed to the district court, which affirmed Freitas's judgment of conviction. Freitas again appeals.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

For an appeal from the district court, sitting in its appellate capacity over a case from the magistrate division, this Court's standard of review is the same as the Idaho Supreme Court's. The Supreme

Page 601

[157 Idaho 261] Court reviews the magistrate record to determine whether there is substantial and competent evidence to support the magistrate's findings of fact and whether the magistrate's conclusions of law follow from those findings. State v. Korn, 148 Idaho 413, 415, 224 P.3d 480, 482 (2009). If those findings are so supported and the conclusions follow therefrom, and if the district court affirmed the magistrate's decision, we affirm the district court's decision as a matter of procedure. Id. Thus, the appellate courts do not review the decision of the magistrate. State v. Trusdall, 155 Idaho 965, 968, 318 P.3d 955, 958 (Ct.App. 2014). Rather, we are procedurally bound to affirm or dismiss the decisions of the district court. Id.

III.

ANALYSIS

Freitas alleges a number of errors on appeal. Primarily, he asserts that the ordinance is unconstitutional on its face because it is facially vague and because it exceeds the police power granted to municipalities under the Idaho Constitution and the statutorily granted power to regulate domestic water systems. He also asserts that the ordinance is unconstitutional as applied because it criminalizes his charitable conduct in this case. Finally, Freitas asserts that the district court erred in affirming his judgment of conviction due to the magistrate's error in giving an ...


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