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State v. Vargas

Court of Appeals of Idaho

May 4, 2018

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
TANYA ANDREA VARGAS, Defendant-Appellant.

         2018 Opinion No. 21

          Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Gerald F. Schroeder, District Judge; Hon. Michael J. Oths, Magistrate.

         Decision of the district court, on intermediate appeal from the magistrate, affirming magistrate's denial of motion in limine, affirmed.

          Barnum Howell & Gunn PLLC, Boise, for appellant. Matthew Gunn argued.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Lori A. Fleming, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Lori A. Fleming argued.

          HUSKEY, JUDGE.

         Tanya Andrea Vargas appeals from the district court's decision affirming the magistrate's denial of Vargas's motion in limine, which sought suppression of the officer's out-of-court and in-court identification of Vargas. Vargas contends that the magistrate and district court erred in concluding that an officer's identification of a suspect does not raise due process concerns--and therefore does not require the court to employ the two-step reliability test for identifications made pursuant to suggestive identification procedures--if the identification stems from a photograph obtained as part of that officer's investigation. Vargas further argues that the magistrate and district court erred in failing to suppress the officer's in-court identification, as it was the result of a tainted out-of-court identification. For the following reasons, we affirm the district court's decision.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         At approximately 10:50 p.m. on May 8, 2015, an officer noticed that a vehicle had a nonfunctioning taillight and began to follow the vehicle. After calling the vehicle's license plate number into dispatch, the officer attempted to stop the vehicle. The driver slowed but did not stop. The officer, who pulled to within fifteen feet of the vehicle, was able to observe the driver's face in the driver's side mirror, as the driver kept glancing into the mirror. After the officer activated her siren, the driver accelerated rapidly. The officer, pursuant to department policy, did not give chase.

         The license plate number led the officer to the registered owner of the vehicle. The registered owner told the officer that the owner had provided the vehicle to Vargas. After obtaining Vargas's photograph from a copy of her state-issued ID, the officer was able to identify Vargas as the driver of the vehicle.

         On June 5, 2015, Vargas was charged with one count of eluding a police officer. Vargas pled not guilty. Before trial, Vargas filed a motion in limine seeking suppression of the officer's identification of Vargas, both in and out of court. The magistrate denied the motion. On March 15, 2016, the case proceeded to trial and a jury found Vargas guilty. The magistrate sentenced Vargas to 166 days in jail, but credited her with 166 days served. Vargas timely appealed the judgment of conviction to the district court. The district court affirmed the judgment of conviction, holding that the magistrate did not err in denying Vargas's motion in limine. Vargas timely appealed the district court's decision.

         II.

         STANDARD ...


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