State v. Garcia, 48782

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtBRODY, Justice.
PartiesSTATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. JESUS MANUEL GARCIA, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket Number48782
Decision Date25 August 2022

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.

JESUS MANUEL GARCIA, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 48782

Supreme Court of Idaho

August 25, 2022


Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County. Michael Reardon, District Judge.

The order of the district court is affirmed.

Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellant Public Defender, for Appellant. Elizabeth Allred argued.

Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for Respondent. John McKinney argued.

BRODY, Justice.

This appeal is Jesus Garcia's second challenge to an order of restitution. After a jury found Garcia guilty on charges related to a deadly night-club incident, the district court ordered restitution against Garcia in the amount of $162,285.27. In State v. Garcia, 166 Idaho 661, 462 P.3d 1125 (2020) ("Garcia I"), this Court reversed the district court's restitution order after determining the district court had not properly considered Garcia's future ability to repay that amount. On remand, the district court held a second restitution hearing, weighed evidence from before and after remand, and determined Garcia has the foreseeable ability to pay the restitution amount. The district court then reinstated the original order in full. Garcia appeals, arguing the district court's decision ignored this Court's restitution holding in Garcia I, and is not supported by substantial evidence. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

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I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In 2018, a jury found Garcia guilty of second-degree murder, aggravated battery, use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime, and possession of a controlled substance. Leading up to his sentencing, Garcia refused to participate in the presentence investigation process. Because of this, Garcia was not interviewed after his 2018 conviction to gather an updated history regarding his family, education, physical health, mental health, substance use, or work history.

Instead, the 2018 presentence materials included Garcia's history as of a 2011 presentence report related to Garcia's prior convictions for aggravated assault and unlawful entry. The materials also included Garcia's presentence memorandum. In it, Garcia updated his "lengthy work history" doing dry-wall work with his uncle, bussing tables, and working in the trailer manufacturing industry for approximately five years. The district court ultimately sentenced Garcia to twenty-five years to life on the second-degree murder charge, with additional sentences on the other charges to run concurrently.

Two months after sentencing, the district court held a restitution hearing. There was no dispute that $162,285.27 was the correct amount of restitution. Garcia's defense counsel explained that the dispute was whether the district court should, in fairness, order that full amount, or some lesser amount. In lieu of oral argument, the district court ordered the parties to brief the issue. Once the briefing was complete, the district court issued its decision and ordered restitution against Garcia for the full amount.

Garcia appealed, assigning numerous errors related to trial and sentencing, and that the district court had abused its discretion in ordering restitution. See State v. Garcia, 166 Idaho 661, 462 P.3d 1125 (2020). Ultimately, we affirmed the judgment of conviction and the sentence, but vacated the order of restitution and remanded the case. Id. at 683, 462 P.3d at 1147.

On remand, with no objection from either party, the district court held a second restitution hearing. The district court heard testimony from a financial specialist for inmate accounting, a restitution coordinator, and a research analyst from the Parole Commission. The financial specialist, using supporting exhibits, testified to numerous outside deposits Garcia received from family and friends along with wages Garcia received as an inmate janitor. Across roughly two and a half years, $14,715 was deposited into Garcia's account.

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Next, the restitution coordinator testified that garnishments of the outside deposits had, as of the hearing date, totaled $2,267.90 and had been paid toward Garcia's restitution. The coordinator also testified that due to the post-judgment interest on the principal, Garcia's underlying restitution balance had increased by more than $2,000.00 at the end of those two and a half years despite the $2,267.90 payment. Finally, the research analyst testified to parole statistics for similarly situated individuals as Garcia. The analyst further testified that inmates have control over some factors influencing parole eligibility but not others.

After closing arguments, the district court gave a "thumbnail" ruling from the bench which it later memorialized in a written memorandum and order. Based on the 2018 presentence materials (including the 2011 presentence report and Garcia's memorandum), and the new evidence received on remand, the district court found that Garcia has the foreseeable ability to pay the full $162,285.27 upon release. From this, the court reinstated its original order of restitution. Garcia timely appealed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

"This Court reviews a district court's restitution order for an abuse of discretion[.]" State v. Foeller, 168 Idaho 884, 887, 489 P.3d 795, 798 (2021). On review of an alleged abused of discretion, we evaluate whether 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, 863, 421 P.3d 187, 194 (2018).

"If the findings of fact are based upon substantial evidence, even if the evidence is conflicting, they will not be overturned on appeal." Akers v. Mortensen, 147 Idaho 39, 43, 205 P.3d 1175, 1179 (2009). "This Court will not substitute its view of the facts for that of the trial court." Id. "Substantial evidence is 'relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept to support a conclusion.'" State v. Wisdom, 161 Idaho 916, 919, 393 P.3d 576, 579 (2017) (quoting State v. Straub, 153 Idaho 882, 885, 292 P.3d 273, 276 (2013)).

III. ANALYSIS

In this appeal, Garcia challenges the district court's order requiring him to pay the full $162,285.27 in restitution. Garcia first argues that the district court improperly ignored part of this Court's holding in State v. Garcia, 166 Idaho 661, 462 P.3d 1125 (2020) by relying on the

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presentence materials to support its finding of Garcia's foreseeable ability to pay. Garcia also argues that there is not substantial evidence to support a finding that Garcia has the foreseeable ability to pay the restitution in full. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the district court's decision.

The Idaho Constitution grants "crime victim[s], as defined by statute," numerous rights. Idaho Const. art. I, § 22. One such right is the right "[t]o restitution, as provided by law, from the person committing the offense that caused the victim's loss." Id. at § 22(7); see Foeller, 168 Idaho at 888, 489 P.3d at 799. Idaho Code section 19-5304 is the statute that defines a crime victim's right to restitution. That statute provides that "[u]nless the court determines that an order of restitution would be inappropriate or undesirable, it shall order a defendant found guilty of any crime which results in an economic loss to the victim to make restitution to the victim." I.C. § 19-5304(2).

However, the restitution ordered may be, in the trial court's discretion, "complete, partial, or nominal." Id. In exercising this discretion, the trial court must consider the factors set out in subsection (7) of Idaho Code section 19-5304:

The court, in determining whether to order restitution and the amount of such restitution, shall consider the amount of economic loss sustained by the victim as a result of the offense, the financial resources, needs and earning ability of the defendant, and such other factors as the court deems appropriate. The immediate inability to pay restitution by a defendant shall not be, in and of itself, a reason to not order restitution.

I.C. § 19-5304(7).

Stated another way, subsection (7) instructs trial courts to consider: the amount of economic loss sustained by the victim(s) as a result of the offense; the financial resources of the defendant; the needs of the defendant; the earning ability of the defendant; and other factors as the court deems appropriate. Id.; Wisdom, 161 Idaho at 919, 393 P.3d at 579. Importantly, there is one factor in subsection (7) that curbs a trial court's discretion: that the "immediate inability to pay restitution by a defendant shall not be, in and of itself, a reason to not order restitution." I.C. § 19-5304(7).

Accordingly, if a defendant does not have the immediate ability to pay restitution, a court may order restitution if, after considering the above factors, it finds a foreseeable ability to pay restitution. Garcia, 166 Idaho at 681-82, 462 P.3d at 1145-46. To reach this ultimate finding, a trial court is not required to "divine a defendant's future financial capabilities" or "limit a victim's right to restitution to what is presently known about the defendant.” Id. at 683, 462 P.3d at 1147.

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Indeed, even if a defendant is unlikely to ever meet the full amount of restitution, an order of restitution may be upheld if it does not require installment payments or deadlines but simply gives the victims the present ability to obtain a judgment. See State v. Bybee, 115 Idaho 541, 543, 768 P.2d 804, 806 (Ct. App. 1989) (affirming an order of restitution for $1,500,035 based on the defendant's foreseeable ability to pay upon release).

A. The district court could...

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