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State v. Partee

Supreme Court of Idaho

September 3, 2019

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
GARY C. PARTEE, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Clearwater County. Gregory FitzMaurice, District Judge.

         The judgment of conviction for delivery of methamphetamine is vacated and the order denying the motion in limine is vacated and remanded.

          State Appellate Public Defender's Office, Boise, for appellant, Gary C. Partee. Maya P. Waldron argued.

          Idaho Attorney General's Office, Boise, for respondent, State of Idaho. Ted Tollefson argued.

          STEGNER, JUSTICE.

         Gary C. Partee appeals from the judgment of conviction entered upon the jury verdict finding him guilty of delivery of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with the intent to deliver, and possession of methamphetamine.[1] Before trial, Partee moved to exclude statements he made to law enforcement officers during an interview in which he admitted multiple deliveries of methamphetamine that were made as result of a confidential informant agreement. The district court denied his motion. Because we hold that the agreement was ambiguous, we vacate the portion of the judgment of conviction for delivery of methamphetamine and vacate the order denying the motion in limine. We further remand to the district court for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On November 29, 2016, the Orofino Police Department executed a search warrant to search Partee's home. Partee was arrested for various felony charges. The State charged Partee with possession of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with the intent to deliver, and four misdemeanor charges in Case No. CR-2016-951 (the 2016 case).

         On December 9, 2016, Partee entered into a "Confidential Informant/Testimonial Agreement" with the State. Partee agreed to do three things: First, he would debrief the State regarding drug activity and stolen property about which he had knowledge. Second, he would participate in at least twelve purchases of controlled substances. Third, he would testify truthfully for the State with regard to those purchases. In exchange, the State agreed to give Partee immunity for everything he disclosed in the debriefing, dismiss all charges except for the possession of methamphetamine, and not file additional charges. As for the remaining possession charge, the parties agreed they would enter into a binding plea agreement providing for a sentence of probation, with treatment for drug addiction and no additional jail time.

         On the same day that he entered into the Agreement, Partee engaged in an interview with law enforcement officers. He told the officers about his participation and knowledge of the distribution of methamphetamine and admitted to selling methamphetamine at least fifty times during a six-month period. Partee was released from the Clearwater County Jail following his interview, in part due to his willingness to participate as a confidential informant.

         However, after his release, Partee failed to maintain contact with the police and never completed any purchases of controlled substances as contemplated in the Agreement. As a result of Partee's apparent unwillingness to fulfill the terms of the Agreement, the State filed Case No. CR-2017-95 (the 2017 case) against Partee alleging that he possessed and delivered methamphetamine based on the statements he made during his December 9 interview. The State moved to consolidate the 2017 and 2016 cases because the charged offenses arose from the same circumstances.

         Partee filed a motion to dismiss the delivery charge in the 2017 case, or, in the alternative, suppress statements made by him.[2] Partee argued the State violated the Agreement "by intending to utilize statements made by Mr. Partee against him to support the charge of Delivery of a Controlled Substance." Partee conceded that the State was no longer bound by the remainder of the Agreement, as that was contingent upon his participation in purchases of controlled substances. Nevertheless, he maintained he had done everything that was required of him in the Agreement to prevent the State from using his statements at trial. Without Partee's admissions of multiple deliveries of methamphetamine, the State apparently could not prove the charge.

         The district court held a hearing on the motion in limine and motion to consolidate. The district court denied Partee's motion to exclude his statements because it concluded the Agreement was unambiguous and Partee's failure to participate in the purchases of controlled substances relieved the State from any grant of immunity. In addition, the district court granted the State's motion to consolidate the two cases.

         The case proceeded to trial. The jury found Partee guilty of delivery of methamphetamine, as well as possession of methamphetamine with the intent to deliver, and possession of methamphetamine. The district court sentenced Partee to five years with three years fixed for each count, with the sentences to run concurrently. The district court suspended the sentences and retained jurisdiction. Partee timely appealed requesting this Court vacate his judgment of conviction on the delivery charge and reverse the order denying his motion in limine. Partee also requests this Court vacate the order consolidating the 2016 and 2017 cases because defense counsel's opposition to the motion was contingent upon the outcome of the motion in limine.

         II. ...


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