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State v. Doe

Court of Appeals of Idaho

August 20, 2014

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
JOHN (2013-14) DOE, Defendant-Appellant

Editorial Note:

This decision is not final until exception of the 21 day petition for rehearing period. Pursuant to rule 118 of the Idaho Appellate Rules.

2014 Opinion No. 65

Page 859

Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Richard S. Christensen, District Judge; Hon. Clark A. Peterson, Magistrate; Hon. James D. Stow, Magistrate.

Decision, on intermediate appeal, affirming order of commitment for malicious injury to property, 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; Daphne J. Huang, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Daphne J. Huang argued.



Page 860

GUTIERREZ, Chief Judge

John Doe appeals from the decision of the district court on intermediate appeal affirming the magistrate's order that Doe committed malicious injury to property, bringing him within the purview of the Juvenile Corrections Act (J.C.A.). He also challenges the district court's determination that mootness precluded review of Doe's claim that his right to due process was violated by the magistrate's failure to hold a hearing and make individualized findings regarding whether Doe must remain shackled during court proceedings. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.



Doe was served with a petition and summons alleging he committed malicious injury to property, Idaho Code § 18-7001, bringing him within the purview of the J.C.A. Specifically, the petition alleged he damaged a refrigerator by tipping it over at the juvenile group home where he was residing.

After appearing before a magistrate several times, Doe was appointed counsel who filed a " Motion for Hearing to Remove Physical Restraints" and memorandum in support.[1] In the motion, Doe argued that routine shackling of juveniles without an individualized finding that shackles are necessary in a particular case " is in violation of Due Process, harms the integrity of the judiciary, and is not conducive to the juvenile system's stated emphasis on rehabilitation." Therefore, he asserted, the magistrate was required to hold a hearing and then exercise its discretion as to whether Doe should continue to be shackled during court proceedings. Over a week later, Doe appeared with counsel in court for a pretrial conference. Doe was in " handcuffs attached to a belly chain and [had] shackles on." [2] At the pretrial conference, the court took up Doe's motion regarding shackling. After hearing argument from both sides, the magistrate stated it would also incorporate arguments that defense counsel had made earlier in the day regarding the use of shackles on a different juvenile in a different case (hereinafter Doe II) and the court's denial of the motion in that case. The magistrate court denied Doe's motion.

Doe appeared before a different magistrate judge for the evidentiary hearing on the malicious injury to property charge. After the hearing commenced, the magistrate allowed Doe to be unshackled upon finding the State no longer had authority under the J.C.A. to detain Doe because the time limits for detention in the statute had been reached. The State presented its case through the testimony of a group home employee who witnessed the incident and the responding police officer. The employee testified that on the day of the incident, he was supervising Doe and three other juvenile residents who were cleaning in the dining room. The employee testified that some of the juveniles became upset, including Doe, and while

Page 861

the employee's back was turned, Doe overturned a large refrigerator. The employee testified that Doe told the employee he pushed over the refrigerator " out of rage." A Coeur d'Alene police officer who had responded to the scene testified that Doe told him some of the other juveniles present had been teasing Doe, which caused Doe to become angry and push over the refrigerator. The officer testified that Doe admitted he knew what he did was wrong, but that he had been angry and " he thought it was better to push over the refrigerator than hurt somebody." Doe testified that he merely tried to " move" the refrigerator out of the way and had not anticipated that it would fall over. He claimed to have told the responding officer that it was better to move the refrigerator out of his way than to engage in a physical conflict with another juvenile. The magistrate determined Doe committed malicious injury to property as charged by the petition.

Doe appealed to the district court, contending the magistrate erred by failing to hold a hearing and to make individualized findings regarding whether Doe must remain shackled during court proceedings. He also contended the magistrate erred by determining that he committed malicious injury to property, asserting the evidence did not support a finding that he had the requisite intent. The district court held a hearing, during which Doe was present in shackles. In a written decision, the district court determined the shackling issue was moot and that the State had presented sufficient evidence for the magistrate to find that Doe committed malicious injury to property. Doe now appeals to this Court.



Doe contends the district court erred by determining the shackling issue was moot because it falls within exceptions to the mootness doctrine. As to the merits of the issue, Doe argues his due process rights were violated by the magistrate's failure to hold a hearing and make individualized findings that the use of shackles was necessary as to Doe specifically. Finally, he contends the district court erred by affirming the magistrate's determination that he possessed the requisite intent for malicious injury to property.

When reviewing the decision of a district court sitting in its appellate capacity, our standard of review is the same as expressed by the Idaho Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court reviews the trial court (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. 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.

Pelayo v. Pelayo, 154 Idaho 855, 858-59, 303 P.3d 214, 217-18 (2013) (quoting Bailey v. Bailey, 153 Idaho 526, 529, 284 P.3d 970, 973 (2012)). Thus, the appellate courts do not review the decision of the magistrate court. Bailey, 153 Idaho at 529, 284 P.3d at 973. Rather, we are procedurally bound to affirm or reverse the decisions of the district court. State v. Korn, 148 Idaho 413, 415 n.1, 224 P.3d 480, 482 n.1 (2009).

A. Use of Shackles

At the pretrial conference, the parties briefly discussed the shackling issue with the magistrate, after which the magistrate indicated it was incorporating counsel's argument and the magistrate's holding from Doe II and " deny[ing] the request." [3] The transcript of Doe II's hearing to which the magistrate referred is in the record. There, defense counsel argued that the restraints on Doe II (which, like in this case, were handcuffs attached to a belly chain and leg shackles) were a restriction of Doe II's " freedom of movement" and " right to Due Process."

Page 862

Defense counsel recognized that the court had discretion to determine whether Doe II should remain shackled, but argued such a determination should be made " on the basis of personal characteristics of [the client] that would lead the Court to believe that he [presents] either a danger of [running away] or . . . causing some sort of disturbance in the courtroom." The State responded:

Your Honor, it is at your discretion, obviously. I have several things that are--obviously, the charges[4] before the Court . . . raise concern. Based on these charges I would be concerned about violation.
There is also a very full courtroom with both . . . juveniles, parents, [and] family. And there is also limited court staff, bailiff and also staff from [the juvenile detention center]. So, I would have to defer to them regarding . . . their comfort level . . . and whether it poses a safety issue. But, again, it's at your discretion, your Honor.

The magistrate indicated it had read defense counsel's " lengthy" motions and made the following ruling:

[I]n making a finding, I think I can just frankly deny this without additional order. There's been a sufficient record, I think, before the Court.
But in any event, the juvenile's not detained[5] because of security issues that are posed by the Courthouse.
The juvenile is not being detained as a result of limited staff, even though I know [the State] did mention that.
Essentially, the juvenile's detention is based on individualized issues posed by his behavior and other factors. And with the input, of course, of the Juvenile Detention staff.
In making that ruling, I'm not conceding that I'm required to make such a ruling or that any further hearing need be had. But, nevertheless, I have addressed the motion.
I'll deny the motion in both cases as to that issue.
But juveniles are not, in this County, routinely shackled. They're only shackled when there's a determination made for their detention and based on the input from the Detention staff that such is necessary for the security of the courtroom.
And not just that, for the security of the juvenile themselves, because when a juvenile has a conduct disruption or problem in court, or even if they attempt to flee or do things like that . . . [u]nlike an adult who is then apprehended by adult[] security staff, you have a juvenile who then has to be apprehended by adult security staff, which poses a risk and a danger of injury to ...

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