State v. Edmonson, No. 16332

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtDONALDSON; SHEPARD, C.J., and BAKES; HUNTLEY; I further believe the trial judge; BISTLINE; DONALDSON; DONALDSON; BISTLINE; Bengston; Bengston
Citation113 Idaho 230,743 P.2d 459
Decision Date29 May 1987
Docket NumberNo. 16332
PartiesSTATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Eric Roy EDMONSON, Defendant-Appellant, and Bill J. Blackmon, Defendant. STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Eric Roy EDMONSON, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 459

743 P.2d 459
113 Idaho 230
STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Eric Roy EDMONSON, Defendant-Appellant,
and
Bill J. Blackmon, Defendant.
STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Eric Roy EDMONSON, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 16332.
Supreme Court of Idaho.
May 29, 1987.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 30, 1987.

Page 460

[113 Idaho 231] Ned A. Cannon of Smith & Cannon, Lewiston, and John S. Ransom (argued), of Ransom, Blackman & Simson, Portland, Or., for defendant-appellant.

Jim Jones, Atty. Gen., Lynn E. Thomas, Sol.Gen. (argued), Boise, for plaintiff-respondent.

DONALDSON, Justice.

Eric Roy Edmonson was indicted by a grand jury in Latah County on the following charges: racketeering; grand theft; conspiracy to engage in racketeering; conspiracy to engage in grand theft; and the falsification of corporate books and records. Edmonson filed a barrage of motions raising a number of constitutional and procedural arguments alleging error in the grand jury indictment and requesting the indictment be set aside. After a hearing, the district court issued an opinion denying the motions. Permission to appeal by certification was granted.

On appeal Edmonson raises five specific arguments, as to why dismissal of the indictment is required. They are:

1. The prosecutor's use of the grand jury to indict was not based on any systematic set of criteria and therefore violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Idaho Constitution.

2. The prosecutor's use of hearsay evidence is contrary to I.C. § 19-1105 and I.C.R. 6(f).

Page 461

[113 Idaho 232] 3. The prosecutor's comments on the evidence infringed on the grand jury's ability to exercise its independent judgment and therefore violates the due process clause of the Idaho Constitution.

4. Contrary to statute, unauthorized personnel were present during the grand jury sessions.

5. I.C. § 18-1905 (the falsification of corporate book statute) is unconstitutional on its face.

We reject all of Edmonson's contentions and affirm the trial court's findings. We will discuss each argument separately and any additional facts as necessary.

I

Equal Protection

Edmonson contends that the use of a grand jury in this case deprived him of the equal protection of the laws in violation of art. 1, § 2 of the Idaho Constitution. Essentially, relying on several Oregon Supreme Court cases, he argues that the system used in Idaho allowing the prosecutor unfettered discretion to initiate criminal proceedings by indictment or information without regard to any systematic or coherent policy violates a defendant's right to equal protection. Here, two other co-defendants were charged by information rather than by indictment. Since the prosecutor did not have any systematic coherent policy to decide when to proceed by indictment or information, but rather arbitrarily made that decision, Edmonson contends that he was denied the same rights as his co-defendants, namely the right to a preliminary hearing.

Art. 1, § 8 of the Id. Const. provides:

"s 8. Prosecutions only by indictment or information.--No person shall be held to answer for any felony or criminal offense of any grade, unless on presentment or indictment of a grand jury or on information of the public prosecutor, after a commitment by a magistrate, except in cases of impeachment, in cases cognizable by probate courts or by justices of the peace, and in cases arising in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger; provided, that a grand jury may be summoned upon the order of the district court in the manner provided by law, and provided further, that after a charge has been ignored by a grand jury, no person shall be held to answer, or for trial therefor, upon information of the public prosecutor."

Thus, the prosecutor can use either a grand jury proceeding or a preliminary hearing before an impartial magistrate to initiate criminal proceedings. However, the rights afforded the accused in these proceedings are different. A proceeding initiated by information entitles the accused the right to a preliminary hearing before an impartial magistrate to determine whether a crime has been committed and whether there is probable cause to believe that the accused committed it. Id. Const., art. 1, § 8; I.C. § 19-804; I.C.R. 5.1(b); State v. O'Mealey, 95 Idaho 202, 506 P.2d 99 (1973). The accused has the right to assistance of counsel, (I.C. § 19-801); the right to produce evidence, (I.C. § 19-809), State v. Haggard, 94 Idaho 249, 486 P.2d 260 (1971); and the right to cross-examine adverse witnesses, (I.C. § 19-808). These procedures allow an accused to contest the prosecutor's evidence and the right to a finding of probable cause by an impartial and detached judicial officer.

In contrast, an indictment by a grand jury does not afford the accused a right to a preliminary hearing. State v. Taylor, 59 Idaho 724, 87 P.2d 454 (1939). Only the prosecutor and witnesses under examination may be present during the grand jury proceeding. I.C.R. 6(d). Further, the grand jury is not bound to hear evidence presented by the defendant; however, it is required to weigh all evidence submitted to it, and can require additional evidence when necessary. I.C.R. 6(g).

Edmonson relies on a series of Oregon cases starting with State v. Clark, 291 Or. 231, 630 P.2d 810 (1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1084, 102 S.Ct. 640, 70 L.Ed.2d 619 (1981), continuing with State v. Edmonson,

Page 462

[113 Idaho 233] 291 Or. 251, 630 P.2d 822 (1981), and State v. Freeland, 295 Or. 367, 667 P.2d 509 (1983), to support his argument that a prosecutor must afford all similarly situated defendants equal treatment of the laws. In Clark and Edmonson, the defendants were charged by indictment and not afforded a preliminary hearing. They did not request a preliminary hearing, but on appeal argued that a denial of a preliminary hearing violated their rights to equal protection of the laws because other potential defendants charged with the same crime could be charged by an information and allowed a preliminary hearing. The Oregon Supreme Court rejected this contention, noting that its constitution provides for alternative charging methods (information with a preliminary hearing or indictment without one) which are capable of valid administration. However, the court held that a choice between indictment and information must "rest on meaningful criteria that indeed make the privileges of a preliminary hearing equally available to all persons similarly situated...." Edmonson, supra, 630 P.2d at 823. In other words, the equal protection clause of the Oregon constitution prevents the prosecutor from arbitrarily chosing to proceed by indictment or information, but instead, requires the choice be made on a coherent, systematic basis. The court upheld the indictments because both Clark and Edmonson failed to show that other defendants in the same situation would be afforded a preliminary hearing.

In Freeland, the defendant was indicted by a grand jury and then requested a preliminary hearing. After it was denied, he filed a motion asking for a hearing in which to show that the denial of the preliminary hearing did not meet the Clark and Edmonson standards. At the hearing, the district attorney stated that the decision to proceed by indictment or information was left up to the individual trial deputy. The trial court then held that such an ad hoc procedure did not meet the constitutional requirements as set forth in Clark and Edmonson. The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed. The court framed the test as "whether a prosecutor's use of the two charging procedures adheres to sufficiently consistent standards to represent a coherent, systematic policy, even when not promulgated in the form of rules or guidelines." Freeland, supra 667 P.2d at 515.

In summary, the Oregon Constitution, like the Idaho Constitution, provides for alternative charging procedures, either by indictment or by information. If an information is used, the defendant has a right to a preliminary hearing. Like the Idaho Constitution, the Oregon Constitution does not, on its face, place any limitation on the prosecutor's choice to proceed by either alternative. In Oregon, however, the state Supreme Court has ruled that the state's equal protection clause does require the prosecutor to treat similarly situated defendants equally. This is best accomplished by a pre-established, "coherent, systematic policy" under which the prosecutor will be limited in the choice to proceed by indictment or information.

Edmonson urges us to adopt the reasoning of the Oregon Supreme Court. We refuse to do so.

We note that Edmonson did not request a preliminary hearing. He simply argued that the prosecutor must have a systematic set of criteria to base a decision on in order to proceed by indictment or information. As noted above, however, one substantive difference in the indictment and information procedures is the right to a preliminary hearing when an information is used. Edmonson's failure to request a preliminary hearing is dispositive of this case. However, based on the important constitutional issues at stake, we will address the arguments raised by Edmonson.

It is a well settled rule that an equal protection analysis comes into play when a statute--a legislative enactment--creates two classes of individuals who are treated differently. See Stucki v. Loveland, 94 Idaho 621, 495 P.2d 571 (1972). In this case, we have two constitutional provisions that need to be construed together, Art. 1, § 8 allows for alternative charging procedures which are of equal dignity. In

Page 463

[113 Idaho 234] re Winn, 28 Idaho 461, 154 P. 497 (1916). Art. 1, § 2 guarantees equal rights, privileges and immunities to all persons within the state. Fisher v. Masters, 59 Idaho 366, 83 P.2d 212 (1938). The appellant argues that art. 1, § 2 is a limitation of art. 1, § 8. We disagree. When construing separate constitutional provisions, the...

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37 practice notes
  • Davila v. State, No. 90-226
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 23, 1992
    ...539 P.2d 817 (1975); Schwader v. District Court In and For Tenth Judicial Dist., 172 Colo. 474, 474 P.2d 607 (1970); State v. Edmonson, 113 Idaho 230, 743 P.2d 459 (1987); State v. Jones, 233 Kan. 170, 660 P.2d 965 (1983); State ex rel. Brackman v. District Court of First Judicial Dist. In ......
  • Cowles Pub. Co. v. Magistrate Court of the First Judicial Dist. of State, County of Kootenai, No. 18629
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 23, 1990
    ...but the statutes or rules do not provide for a change of venue for a preliminary hearing. In the case of State v. Edmonson, 113 Ida. 230 [743 P.2d 459 (1987) ], the decision The grand jury is an accusing body and not a trial court. Its functions are investigative and charging. The purpose o......
  • People v. Oliver, No. 2-05-0216.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 7, 2006
    ...would not have indicted the defendant. See Mattis, 367 Ill.App.3d at 436-37, 305 Ill.Dec. 239, 854 N.E.2d at 1152-53; State v. Edmonson, 113 Idaho 230, 237, 743 P.2d 459, 466 (1987); Black's Law Dictionary 1179 (6th ed.1990) (a prejudicial error is one that affects the final result of the p......
  • Commonwealth v. Walczak, SJC-11155
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • December 12, 2012
    ...with respect to its duties or any matter before it, and such instructions must be recorded in the minutes"). See also State v. Edmonson, 113 Idaho 230, 238 (1987) ("prosecutor is expected to act as the grand jury's legal advisor"). See generally LaFave, supra at § 15.2(e), at 476 ("The pros......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
37 cases
  • Davila v. State, No. 90-226
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 23, 1992
    ...539 P.2d 817 (1975); Schwader v. District Court In and For Tenth Judicial Dist., 172 Colo. 474, 474 P.2d 607 (1970); State v. Edmonson, 113 Idaho 230, 743 P.2d 459 (1987); State v. Jones, 233 Kan. 170, 660 P.2d 965 (1983); State ex rel. Brackman v. District Court of First Judicial Dist. In ......
  • Cowles Pub. Co. v. Magistrate Court of the First Judicial Dist. of State, County of Kootenai, No. 18629
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 23, 1990
    ...but the statutes or rules do not provide for a change of venue for a preliminary hearing. In the case of State v. Edmonson, 113 Ida. 230 [743 P.2d 459 (1987) ], the decision The grand jury is an accusing body and not a trial court. Its functions are investigative and charging. The purpose o......
  • People v. Oliver, No. 2-05-0216.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 7, 2006
    ...would not have indicted the defendant. See Mattis, 367 Ill.App.3d at 436-37, 305 Ill.Dec. 239, 854 N.E.2d at 1152-53; State v. Edmonson, 113 Idaho 230, 237, 743 P.2d 459, 466 (1987); Black's Law Dictionary 1179 (6th ed.1990) (a prejudicial error is one that affects the final result of the p......
  • Commonwealth v. Walczak, SJC-11155
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • December 12, 2012
    ...respect to its duties or any matter before it, and such instructions must be recorded in the minutes"). See also State v. Edmonson, 113 Idaho 230, 238 (1987) ("prosecutor is expected to act as the grand jury's legal advisor"). See generally LaFave, supra at § 15.2(e), at 476 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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