from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District,
State of Idaho, Ada County. Steven Hippler, District Judge.
court judgment of conviction, affirmed.
D. Frederickson, State Appellant Public Defender, Boise, for
appellant. Jenevieve C. Swinford, Deputy State Appellate
Public Defender argued.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for
respondent. Lori A. Fleming, Deputy Attorney General argued.
BURDICK, Chief Justice.
Lee Sanchez appeals the Ada County district court's
judgment of conviction for one count of threats against a
public servant. In September 2016, Sanchez was in prison for
a felony injury to a child offense arising out of Gem County.
While incarcerated, Sanchez sent a letter to the Gem County
prosecutor that allegedly threatened harm to the prosecutor
and his family. Sanchez's letter prompted the State to
charge Sanchez with one count of threats against a public
servant with an enhancement because Sanchez committed the
offense on the grounds of a correctional facility. A jury
convicted Sanchez and he was sentenced to consecutive
five-year prison terms, with four years fixed. On appeal,
Sanchez challenges the district court's denial of his
pre-trial motion to dismiss as well as several evidentiary
rulings by the district court. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
was charged and convicted of one count of threats against a
public servant in violation of Idaho Code section
18-1353(1)(b) with an enhancement because the offense was
committed on the grounds of a correctional facility in
violation of Idaho Code section 19-2520F. The charge arose
after Sanchez sent an allegedly threatening letter to a Gem
County prosecutor who was involved in a separate criminal
case against Sanchez. The prosecutor had previously
prosecuted and obtained a conviction against Sanchez for
felony injury to a child. Following Sanchez's injury to a
child conviction, the prosecutor represented the State in a
Child Protection Act case to determine placement of
Sanchez's children. While Sanchez was incarcerated for
the injury to a child charge and awaiting action on his
petition for post-conviction relief, Sanchez mailed a letter
to the prosecutor's office stating the following:
I hope you and your's [sic] are doing well and
congradulations [sic] on the new addition to your family.
To business: A prosecutor has the responsibility of a
minister of justice . . . This responsibility carries with it
specific obligations to see that the defendant is accorded
justice, that guilt is decided upon the basis for sufficient
evidence and that precautions are taken to prevent and to
rectify the conviction of innocent persons. I.C.R. 3.8(g);
I am about to put some things into motion that neither you or
I can undo.
I don't want to, but I absolutely will. I would like to
think that we are reasonable. I consider myself a Christian.
Retribution does not restore. Hurting others, (even when they
deserve it) also injuries [sic] me. I seek mitigation. I am
coming to you from a position of Legal strength asking you to
consider coming to the prison and talking privately.
I have operated transparently from the beginning. I am
willing to make a one time offer which must be acted upon
very soon; otherwise I will be forced to do this the
hard-way. My chess pieces are ready to move, and moving.
Parties have been contacted who await instructions.
I seek an opportunity to show Idaho what mercy looks like.
My God desires mercy over judgement, but make no mistake,
when left no options, He will execute vengence [sic] and
wrath. Mistakes have been made; let us mitigate them by
having an honest private conversation and decide what action
may be acceptable to all parties.
Me, sitting in prison, with my children in harm's way,
for a crime I didn't commit, past my fixed time, is
unacceptable. I have four possible solutions to offer and all
of them are more pleasant than what is about to happen.
Refuse, and what happens next is your doing.
the State charged Sanchez with one count of threats against a
public servant after he sent the letter, Sanchez filed two
motions to dismiss, first arguing section 18-1353(1)(b) was
unconstitutionally overbroad and vague. In his second motion
to dismiss, Sanchez argued the amended information was
jurisdictionally deficient because it did not include the
"material element of 'harm' in the offense
charged." After a hearing on Sanchez's motions, the
district court denied both of Sanchez's motions to
dismiss. As to the first motion, the district court
determined Sanchez failed to carry his burden of establishing
section 18-1353(1)(b) was unconstitutionally overbroad or
vague. As to Sanchez's second motion, the district court
determined "harm" was implicated in the
information, but the district court granted the State leave
to amend the information to expressly include the element of
to trial, Sanchez moved to exclude two of the State's
exhibits, one being the first page of Sanchez's
conviction for injury to a child, and the second being the
first page of Sanchez's petition for post-conviction
relief. The district court denied both motions, determining
both were relevant to Sanchez's motive and intent. During
trial, the State elicited testimony from the prosecutor about
his reaction to reading the letter. Sanchez objected and was
overruled. A jury convicted Sanchez, and the district court
sentenced him to five years, with four fixed, to run
consecutively with his current term. Sanchez timely appeals
the district court's judgment of conviction.
ISSUES ON APPEAL
Whether the district court erred when it denied Sanchez's
motion to dismiss.
Whether the district court abused its discretion when it
admitted evidence of the prosecutor's reaction to
Whether the district court abused its discretion in admitting
evidence of Sanchez's prior conviction for injury to a
Whether the district court abused its discretion in admitting
evidence of Sanchez's post-conviction proceeding.
Whether the errors alleged by Sanchez, in the aggregate,
deprived him of a fair trial.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
questions and questions of statutory interpretation are
questions of law, [therefore] this Court exercises free
review over both." Leavitt v. Craven, 154 Idaho
661, 665, 302 P.3d 1, 5 (2012) (quoting Stuart v.
State, 149 Idaho 35, 40, 232 P.3d 813, 818 (2010)). In
cases challenging the constitutionality of a statute:
There is a presumption in favor of the constitutionality of
the challenged statute or regulation, and the burden of
establishing that the statute or regulation is
unconstitutional rests upon the challengers. An appellate
court is obligated to seek an interpretation of a statute
that upholds it [sic] constitutionality. The judicial power
to declare legislative action unconstitutional should be
exercised only in clear cases.
Id. (quoting Stuart, 149 Idaho at 40, 232
P.3d at 818).
This Court reviews questions regarding the admissibility of
evidence using a mixed standard of review. State v.
Stevens, 146 Idaho 139, 143, 191 P.3d 217, 221 (2008).
First, whether the evidence is relevant is a matter of law
that is subject to free review. State v. Field, 144
Idaho 559, 569, 165 P.3d 273, 283 (2007). Second, we review
the district court's determination of whether the
probative value of the evidence outweighs its prejudicial
effect for an abuse of discretion. Stevens, 146
Idaho at 143, 191 P.3d at 221.
State v. Ehrlick, 158 Idaho 900, 907, 354 P.3d 462,
469 (2015). When this Court reviews whether a trial court has
abused its discretion, the four-part inquiry is
"[w]hether the trial court: (1) correctly perceived the
issue as one of discretion; (2) acted within the outer
boundaries of its discretion; (3) acted consistently with the
legal standards applicable to the specific choices available
to it; and (4) reached its decision by the exercise of
reason." Lunneborg v. My Fun Life, 163 Idaho
856, 864, 421 P.3d 187, 194 (2018) (citation omitted).