218 P.3d 1143 (Idaho 2009), 35665, State v. Clements

Docket Nº:35665.
Citation:218 P.3d 1143, 148 Idaho 82
Opinion Judge:BURDICK, Justice.
Party Name:STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Appellant-Cross Respondent, v. Michael Edwin CLEMENTS, Defendant-Respondent-Cross Appellant.
Attorney:Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for appellant. Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General, argued. Molly J. Huskey, Idaho Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for respondent. Diane Walker, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, argued.
Judge Panel:Chief Justice EISMANN and Justices J. JONES, and W. JONES concur. HORTON, J., concurring.
Case Date:October 15, 2009
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho
 
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Page 1143

218 P.3d 1143 (Idaho 2009)

148 Idaho 82

STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Appellant-Cross Respondent,

v.

Michael Edwin CLEMENTS, Defendant-Respondent-Cross Appellant.

No. 35665.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise

October 15, 2009

Page 1144

[148 Idaho 83] Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for appellant. Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General, argued.

Molly J. Huskey, Idaho Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for respondent. Diane Walker, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, argued.

BURDICK, Justice.

This case arises out of the 1994 shooting death of Mary Ellen Johnson and shooting of Lori Anne Oakes. Respondent Michael Edwin Clements pled guilty to second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement for the death of Johnson and attempted second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement for the shooting of Oakes. The district court sentenced Clements to life with fifteen years fixed for second-degree murder plus fifteen years for the firearm enhancement, and fifteen years with ten years fixed for attempted second-degree murder plus five years for the firearm enhancement. Approximately ten years later, Clements filed an Idaho Criminal Rule 35 motion, arguing that he was illegally sentenced for two weapon enhancements because both shootings arose from the same indivisible course of conduct under I.C. § 19-2520E. The district court reversed Clements's judgment of conviction and sentence for attempted second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement and resentenced him to fifteen years with ten years fixed, with credit for time served. The State appealed and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the district court lacked authority to consider the underlying facts of the case in determining that Clements's sentence for attempted second-degree murder was illegal. Clements petitioned this Court for review. We find that the district court lacked authority under Rule 35 to examine the underlying facts of Clements's case.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In 1994, Clements shot Johnson and Oakes, and Johnson died as a result of the shooting. The State charged Clements with first-degree murder with a firearm enhancement for the death of Johnson, attempted first-degree murder with a firearm enhancement for the shooting of Oakes, and burglary. Clements entered into a plea bargain where, in exchange for his guilty pleas to the reduced charges of second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement and attempted second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement, the State dismissed the burglary charge and a felony intimidating a witness charge from a separate case and recommended concurrent sentences. The district court sentenced Clements to life with fifteen years fixed for second-degree murder plus fifteen years for the firearm enhancement, and fifteen years with ten years fixed for attempted second-degree murder plus five years for the firearm enhancement, with credit for time served. Clements appealed. On October 3, 1996, the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed Clements's judgment of conviction and sentence in an unpublished opinion.

Approximately ten years later, on May 26, 2006, Clements filed a pro se Rule 35 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The basis of Clements's motion was that he was illegally sentenced for two firearm enhancements because the shootings arose from the same indivisible course of conduct. Idaho Code § 19-2520, Idaho's weapons enhancement statute, is limited by I.C. § 19-2520E, which provides in pertinent part: " [A]ny person convicted of two (2) or more substantive

Page 1145

[148 Idaho 84] crimes provided for in [I.C. § 19-2520], which crimes arose out of the same indivisible course of conduct, may only be subject to one (1) enhanced penalty." Clements was appointed counsel for his Rule 35 motion, and the district court heard argument. After reviewing the transcript of the preliminary hearing held on September 20, 1994, the district court determined that Clements shot both victims in rapid succession and, therefore, the crimes " arose out of the same indivisible course of conduct." The district court determined that once it vacated one of Clements's sentences, it had no reason to vacate the remaining legal sentence. The district court granted Clements's Rule 35 motion in part and vacated his judgment of conviction and sentence for attempted second-degree murder with the firearm enhancement. On September 11, 2006, the district court conducted another sentencing hearing for the count of attempted second-degree murder. Clements was resentenced to fifteen years with ten years fixed, and was given credit for time served.

The State appealed, asserting that the district court lacked authority to examine the underlying facts of Clements's case in order to determine whether his original enhanced sentence for attempted second-degree murder was illegal. Clements filed a pro se cross-appeal, arguing the district court should have invalidated both of his sentences after finding that the imposition of the two weapons enhancements was illegal. Clements was appointed a public defender for his appeal. On May 29, 2008, the Idaho Court of Appeals reversed the district court's order, holding that the district court lacked authority to examine the underlying facts of Clements's case before concluding that his sentence was illegal. This Court granted Clements's petition for review. We reverse the district court's order and remand.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

" On review of a case from the Court of Appeals, this Court gives due consideration to the Court of Appeals' decision, but directly reviews the decision of the trial court." State v. Bishop, 146 Idaho 804, 810, 203 P.3d 1203, 1209 (2009).

Idaho Criminal Rule 35 is a narrow rule that allows a trial court to correct an illegal sentence at any time, or to correct a sentence imposed in an illegal manner within 120 days. State v. Farwell, 144 Idaho 732, 735, 170 P.3d 397, 400 (2007); I.C.R. 35. " Generally, whether a sentence is illegal or whether it was imposed in an illegal manner is a question of law, over which we exercise free review." Farwell, 144 Idaho at 735, 170 P.3d at 400.

III. ANALYSIS

On appeal, the State asserts that the district court lacked authority under Rule 35 to examine the underlying facts of Clements's case in determining whether his original enhanced sentence for attempted second-degree murder was illegal. The question before this Court is whether the scope of review under Rule 35 permitted the district court to review the underlying facts of Clements's...

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