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Posts tagged: idaho supreme court

Idaho Supreme Court rejects Shackelford appeal, upholds sentence

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld two life sentences given to a former death row inmate who killed his ex-wife and her boyfriend in 1999. The court ruled Friday against 51-year-old Dale Shackelford and his argument that he should have been given a different judge for his resentencing in 2011 and that some testimony shouldn't have been allowed. Shackelford was convicted of shooting Donna Fontaine and Fred Palahniuk to death in the northern Idaho town of Kendrick. He was sentenced to death. However, the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that juries, not judges, must hand down death sentences. At a new sentencing hearing Shackelford received two fixed life sentences. Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson says he's pleased with the recent decision because Shackelford remains a threat to society.

Court rejects worker’s comp claim for psych damage from man who fell into fryer

A restaurant worker who fell into a deep fat fryer and was severely burned can't claim worker's compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder, for which he sought treatment two years after the accident, the Idaho Supreme Court has ruled. Justice Warren Jones, writing for a unanimous court, wrote that the worker didn't prove that his psychological trauma was caused predominantly by the accident with the fryer, and noted that he'd had other stresses in his life as well. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Idaho woman fights new ‘vexatious litigation’ rule

A woman who has already been banned from filing frivolous lawsuits in several state and federal courts is challenging a new Idaho law designed to staunch so-called vexatious litigation, the AP reporters. Holli Lundahl Telford has already been designated a vexatious litigant by the states of Utah, California, Montana, Idaho's federal court, the 9th and 10th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, according to court records. In 2011, a judge in eastern Idaho made the same call, and again, Telford is fighting the designation, appealing to the Idaho Supreme Court. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

Idaho Supreme Court pondering case that could limit death penalty appeals

The Idaho Supreme Court is deciding just how much of each death penalty case they must consider under Idaho's mandatory review law, and the ruling could dramatically change the landscape of capital punishment in Idaho, reports AP reporter Rebecca Boone. The issue came up in an eastern Idaho murder case; click below for Boone's full report.

Idaho Supreme Court hears Coeur d’Alene city council election challenge

The Idaho Supreme Court, sitting in Coeur d'Alene today, heard arguments on a challenge to the results of a Coeur d'Alene City Council election in 2009, in which Mike Kennedy edged Jim Brannon by five votes, a number that fell to three after a District Court challenge - but Kennedy remained the winner. Starr Kelso arged for Brannon; Kennedy was represented by Michael Haman and Scott Reed. You can read our full report here from S-R reporter Scott Maben.

Idaho Supreme Court rules against Idaho Wool Growers in appeal

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Booted off their grazing land, Idaho sheep ranchers have now been rebuffed in state Supreme Court after justices ruled against them on Friday. The Idaho Wool Growers Association and several ranchers had brought suit against Idaho, claiming the state failed to make good on promises to protect them against the loss of their Payette National Forest grazing allotments. The allotments were closed to protect wild bighorn sheep from diseases spread by their domesticated cousins. The ranchers previously lost in 3rd District Court, but appealed on grounds the state was responsible for making good their losses. Justices upheld the lower court ruling, determining that a 1997 letter from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game contained no promise to protect ranchers. The court also awarded attorneys' fees to Fish and Game.

Idaho Supreme Court rejects Rammell appeal over shooting of escaped domestic elk

The Idaho Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from frequent political candidate and former elk rancher Rex Rammell in his lawsuit against the state over the shooting of his escaped domestic elk. In the unanimous ruling authored by Justice Jim Jones, the court held that “the plain language” of Idaho state law “supports defendants' argument that the statute provides authorization for the state to legally take escaped domestice cervidae.” It also held, “The Rammells have pursued this appeal without a reasonable basis in law or fact,” and awarded attorney fees and costs to the state. You can read the decision here. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Rammell arguments on at Idaho Supreme Court; listen live now

The Idaho Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments this morning in Rex Rammell's appeal over the shooting of his escaped domestic elk; you can listen live here. Rammell sued the state, then-Gov. Jim Risch and Idaho Fish & Game over the incident. Rammell's lawyer just told the justices that he doesn't believe Idaho law permits “the destruction of domestic elk simply for being out of the confines of the ranch for seven days.”

“Doesn't Fish & Game have the authority to issue emergency depredation hunts when situations arise?” asked Justice Jim Jones. Rammell's attorney, Patrick Furey, said there was no evidence the elk were diseased or a threat to the state's wild elk herds. “There was nothing at all about these elk to distinguish them as escapees from a neighbor's cattle herd that got out. … This wasn't a case of velociraptors escaping from Jurassic Park.”

“You can't just proclaim to go destroy private property, you've got to have a reason,” Furey told the justices. Justice Daniel Eismann said the state law doesn't talk about disease. “The statute talks about … domestic cervidae that have been escaped for more than seven days.” Justice Joel Horton noted that the state law extends immunity both to licensed hunters and to state agencies for shooting escaped domestic elk that are in the wild more than seven days. Furey said he thought that law “was intended only to immunize the hunter, and not to authorize what was done here.”

The state's attorney, Mike Kelly, told the justices the issue is narrowly defined: Interpretation of the state law. “Gov. Risch had the authority to issue that executive order,” he said. “Gov. Risch didn't issue that order until 26 days after the escape.”


  

Idaho Supreme Court to begin live video-streaming its oral arguments

Idaho's Supreme Court will begin live video streaming all its oral arguments from its main Boise courtroom next week, in a joint project of the court and Idaho Public Television, which pulled it together despite a dearth of state funding. Though Washington has long televised its Supreme Court arguments, fewer than a third of states provide such video access; it's a big step for Idaho, expanding the service that now live-streams all legislative proceedings and some executive-branch meetings on the Internet so folks anywhere in the far-flung state can watch.

“There's a definite benefit to the citizens,” said Steve Kenyon, clerk of the Idaho Supreme Court. Among those likely to tune in to the webcasts: Parties in appeals to the state Supreme Court, who now won't have to drive to Boise to see the arguments before the justices; lawyers who are litigating similar issues in district courts around the state and can see how those issues play out live at the state's highest court; reporters covering cases that originated in far-off corners of the state; and citizens interested in seeing the highest level of the judicial branch of state government at work.

“It's giving people around the state the ability to stay in contact with their governmental process, and we're just proud as punch to be involved with it,” said Peter Morrill, general manager of Idaho Public Television. Adding the high court's arguments will expand IPTV's “Legislature Live” service, which already has been streaming numerous executive-branch proceedings in addition to legislative action; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com, along with links to the new stream.

Cabin owners on state land face increased uncertainty after court ruling

Owners of cabins at Priest Lake, like this 1930s one that retired school teachers Jim and Myrna Brown spent years renovating in the hopes that it could be a family legacy, are facing increased uncertainty after the Idaho Supreme Court decision overturning a state law that protected state-owned cabin site leases from conflict bidding. The ruling affects 354 cottage sites at Priest Lake and 167 at Payette Lake. S-R reporter Sara McMullen takes a look at the issues here; cabin owners, who own their cabins but not the state-owned ground underneath, already are in the midst of working with the state in the Land Board's effort to “unify” ownership of cabin sites, through land exchanges and other steps.

Idaho Supreme Court strikes down law protecting state cabin sites from conflict auctions

The Idaho Supreme Court ruled that leases of state-owned cabin sites, like those on Payette and Priest lakes, are subject to competitive conflict auctions when the leases come up, striking down a state law that exempted the cottage sites. You can read the court's full decision here, and click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Idaho Supreme Court stands by ruling, won’t reconsider Rep. Hart’s tax appeal

The Idaho Supreme Court, without comment, has dismissed tax-protesting Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart's request to reconsider his state income tax appeal, in which he argued the court should have given more consideration to his legislative privilege argument. In a one-page ruling, the Supreme Court declared, “After due consideration, it is hereby ordered that Appellant's petition for rehearing be, and hereby is, denied.”

Hart appealed an order to pay more than $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest, but filed his appeal months after the 91-day appeal period had expired. He argued that because an Idaho legislative session fell just after the appeal period, his status as a lawmaker should entitle him to more time to file. The Idaho Supreme Court strongly disagreed, writing in its unanimous decision in April, “In this instance, Hart is just a taxpayer, with no greater privilege than his constituents.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Idaho Supreme Court upholds death warrant for Richard Leavitt

The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld a death warrant for Richard Leavitt, who is scheduled to be executed June 12 for the 1984 murder of Danette Elg. In a 10-page opinion issued this afternoon, the justices both affirmed the death warrant, and affirmed a district court decision denying a motion to quash that warrant. Leavitt's attorneys charged that the death warrant was improperly issued, and came as Leavitt still had other appeals pending in federal court. “It is important to note that Leavitt received due process prior to the signing of the death warrant,” the justices wrote, in a unanimous decision authored by Justice Warren Jones. “He received due process from the numerous appeals, petitions for post-conviction relief, and habeas corpus relief that he filed in this Court and in federal court over the last twenty-seven years. The issuance of the death warrant is a natural consequence from numerous courts affirming his guilt and sentence of death.”

You can read the Idaho Supreme Court's decision here. It was the fourth bid to stay his execution that Leavitt has lost in the past week; arguments are scheduled on another Thursday at the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Leavitt’s attorneys raise questions of guilt, state says 28 years of litigation is enough

In arguments at the Idaho Supreme Court today, defense attorney David Nevin contended there are questions about condemned murderer Richard Leavitt's guilt that have yet to be explored in court. But Deputy Attorney General LaMont Anderson told the justices, “We've been at this case now for 28 years.”

Justices peppered Nevin with questions about whether his interpretation of court rules would allow endless appeals to head off any execution. He countered, “We are not in the business of frivolous appeals here. There's a serious and significant issue as to guilt pending in the federal court.” Justice Jim Jones, a former Idaho attorney general, recused himself from the case; sitting in as a justice pro tem was retired Chief Justice Gerald Schroeder.

Late Thursday, the justices dismissed a major filing by Leavitt's attorneys, a petition to vacate the death warrant and conduct a new hearing. Then on Friday, U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill dismissed a bid to stay the execution on the basis that a March U.S. Supreme Court decision cleared the way for consideration of Leavitt's earlier claim of ineffective counsel, with regard to testing of blood from the crime scene. Nevin immediately appealed that decision to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which will hear arguments on it Thursday.

Today, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge dismissed the portion of a lawsuit challenging Idaho's lethal-injection execution procedure that involves Leavitt, declining to issue a stay of execution, but leaving the case active for three other Death Row inmates. Leavitt is scheduled to die June 12 for the 1984 murder and mutilation of Danette Elg in eastern Idaho; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com on how he's lost three bids to stay his execution in the past five days.
  

Leavitt loses two bids to stay June 12 execution; more arguments today

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge has dismissed the portion of a lawsuit challenging Idaho's lethal-injection execution procedure that involves Richard Leavitt, who is scheduled to be executed on June 12. Lodge wrote in his 55-page decision and order today that he would allow more time for briefing in the case of the three other condemned prisoners who sued, Thomas Creech, James Hairston and Gene Stuart, but expedited Leavitt's portion because of his pending execution date.

The gist of the lawsuit challenged the state's three-drug lethal injection procedure, charging that if the earlier drug to inflict unconsciousness failed, the condemned inmate would suffer severe and excruciating pain when the later, lethal drug took effect. Since then, Idaho has announced it will use a single-drug lethal injection procedure - exactly what Leavitt sought in the lawsuit - so those points were ruled moot. Leavitt also raised several other issues, but the judge found them not sufficient to warrant a stay of execution. Among them: He challenged the experience level of the people assigned to administer the lethal drugs through IVs, but state prison officials said the least-experienced member of the team has 15 years of relevant medical experience.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill dismissed another bid from Leavitt to stay his execution on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, tied to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision; Leavitt's attorney, David Nevin, immediately filed an appeal of that decision to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. This afternoon, the Idaho Supreme Court will hear arguments on remaining issues raised in state court by Leavitt's defense as his execution date approaches.

Hart wants Idaho Supreme Court to reconsider his legislative immunity claim

Tax-protesting Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart is asking the Idaho Supreme Court to reconsider its dismissal of his state income tax appeal, saying the court should have given more consideration to his legislative privilege argument. Hart appealed an order to pay more than $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest, but filed his appeal months after the 91-day appeal period had expired. He argued that because an Idaho legislative session fell just after the appeal period, his status as a lawmaker should entitle him to more time to file.

The Idaho Supreme Court strongly disagreed, writing in its unanimous decision in April, “In this instance, Hart is just a taxpayer, with no greater privilege than his constituents.” Hart's bid for reconsideration argues that the framers of Idaho's Constitution “were intimately aware that their full attention, without any distraction of any nature, was required in order for them, and future legislators, to accomplish their work on behalf of the people.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
  

Idaho Supreme Court sets arguments for Monday in Leavitt case

The Idaho Supreme Court has set oral arguments for Monday at 3 p.m. on a series of last-minute issues raised by condemned murderer Richard Leavitt, who is scheduled to be executed June 12. Late yesterday, the high court dismissed a major filing by Leavitt's attorneys, a petition to vacate the death warrant and conduct a new hearing. The remaining issues, including a notice of appeal first filed May 21 in Bingham County, will be argued on Monday.

The Supreme Court has posted a link here on its website to all the last-minute filings in the capital murder case, which also include federal court filings; you can read its Thursday order here. Leavitt's death warrant was issued May 17 for the July 1984 murder and mutilation of Danette Elg in Blackfoot; his final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected on May 14. Idaho completed its first execution in 17 years in November, putting triple murderer Paul Ezra Rhoades to death by lethal injection.
  

Idaho Supreme Court: Send child to dad in Mexico

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― The Idaho Supreme Court ordered a 3-year-old girl in state custody be delivered to her father, a Mexican citizen who has never met his daughter because he's legally barred from entering the United States. The justices ruled Thursday a lower court erred when severing the man's parental rights last December. The man married an Idaho woman in 2007 while living illegally in the U.S. He returned to Mexico under court order, with his wife, in 2008 but she soon went back to Idaho, giving birth. The state took custody of the baby months later, citing neglect. Both parents' rights were terminated at the state Department of Health and Welfare's request. When reinstating the father's rights, the high court questioned the department's motives, noting an employee wanted to adopt the girl.

You can read the full court decision here; click below for a full report from AP reporter Jessie Bonner.

Idaho Supreme Court upholds law that abolished insanity defense

The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the law that abolished the insanity defense in Idaho, upholding the sentence of mentally ill multiple murderer John Delling of Boise, who went on a killing spree targeting his childhood friends. He was sentenced to a determinate sentence of life in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. “None of Delling's constitutional rights have been infringed by the abolition of the insanity defense,” wrote Chief Justice Roger Burdick in the court's unanimous opinion; you can read it here.

Idaho Supreme Court rules Lewiston stormwater fee an unconstitutional tax

The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled against the city of Lewiston in a lawsuit challenging the city's stormwater utility fee as an unconstitutional tax because it wasn't authorized by the state Legislature. The lawsuit, brought by the Lewiston School District, Lewis-Clark State College, Nez Perce County, the Port of Lewiston and the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District, was successful at the District Court level, but the city appealed; the high court now has upheld District Judge John Bradbury's ruling invalidating the fee. You can read the court's unanimous decision here, which was written by Justice Warren Jones.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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