State v. Gleason, 23246

Citation944 P.2d 721,130 Idaho 586
Decision Date29 August 1997
Docket NumberNo. 23246,23246
PartiesSTATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Danny Russell GLEASON, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Idaho

Fredrick G. Loats, Coeur d'Alene, for Defendant-Appellant.

Alan G. Lance, Attorney General; L. LaMont Anderson, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for Plaintiff-Respondent.

WALTERS, Judge.

Danny Gleason appeals from the district court's memorandum opinion and order affirming his judgment of conviction entered in the magistrate division after a jury found him guilty of driving under the influence, I.C. § 18-8004. On appeal, Gleason asserts that the jury was improperly instructed, that his Miranda rights were violated and that the magistrate improperly assisted the prosecution. Gleason also submits that the prosecution commented on his constitutional right to remain silent and that the trial court erred in admitting scientific evidence. For the following reasons we affirm.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 16, 1992, Officer Todd Brownlee saw a dark colored pickup drift over the fogline (the solid line on the right hand side of the road) and then veer back into its own lane. Officer Brownlee stopped the pickup and identified Danny Gleason as the driver. During the stop, Officer Brownlee tape-recorded the conversation and Gleason's abusive language. Gleason was subsequently arrested and transported to jail in the patrol car. While being transported, Officer Brownlee continued to record Gleason's words as he shouted and yelled abusive profanity. Once at the jail, Gleason was offered an evidentiary test on the Intoximeter 3000 to determine his blood-alcohol content (BAC). That test produced BAC results of .23 and .24.

Gleason was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence pursuant to I.C. § 18-8004. He subsequently filed motions to suppress, claiming the initial traffic stop was invalid and that he did not knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waive the rights protected under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). After the magistrate court denied both motions, Gleason entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving his right to appeal the magistrate's order denying his suppression motions. The district court affirmed the denial of the motion to suppress the evidence concerning the initial traffic stop, but reversed the denial of the motion with regard to the waiver of Gleason's Miranda rights. Gleason appealed from the district court's order concerning the validity of the initial traffic stop, and in an unpublished opinion this Court affirmed. State v. Gleason, # 20545 (Ct.App.8/1/94, unpublished).

After the district court reversed the magistrate's decision regarding the waiver of Gleason's Miranda rights, Gleason was permitted to withdraw his guilty plea. Subsequently, a jury found Gleason guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol and the magistrate entered a judgment of conviction. Gleason appealed to the district court, which affirmed the judgment of conviction.

II. ISSUES ON APPEAL

On further appeal to this Court, Gleason asserts that: (1) the magistrate erred in giving a jury instruction that defined reasonable doubt, in part, as "the kind of doubt that would make an ordinary person hesitant to act in the most important affairs of his or her own life;" (2) his post-arrest statements were inadmissable because he was not advised of Miranda rights; (3) the magistrate erred in assisting the prosecution by directing the prosecutor's attention to the location of certain documents which were necessary to lay the foundation for admission of the BAC test results; (4) the questioning of the arresting officer about an exhibit identified as "Miranda Rights," constituted a comment on Gleason's right against self-incrimination; and (5) the trial court erred in admitting scientific tests.

III. DISCUSSION
A. Reasonable Doubt Instruction

Gleason argues that the magistrate's instruction to the jury regarding reasonable doubt raised an impermissibly high burden for acquittal. The specific instruction at issue defined reasonable doubt as "a kind of doubt which would make an ordinary person hesitant to act in the most important affairs of his or her own life." This instruction was modeled after Idaho Criminal Jury Instruction (I.C.J.I.) 103A, which indicates in the comment that describing a reasonable doubt as the kind which would make an ordinary person hesitant to act in the most important affairs of his or her own life was approved by the Supreme Court in Holland v. United States, 348 U.S. 121, 75 S.Ct. 127, 99 L.Ed. 150 (1954), and by the Idaho Supreme Court in State v. Taylor, 76 Idaho 358, 362, 283 P.2d 582, 585 (1955).

Idaho Criminal Jury Instruction 103 sets forth the California jury instruction previously adopted by the Idaho Supreme Court as the appropriate instruction on reasonable doubt. See State v. Rhoades, 121 Idaho 63, 82, 822 P.2d 960, 979 (1991); State v. Cotton, 100 Idaho 573, 577, 602 P.2d 71, 75 (1979); State v. Holm, 93 Idaho 904, 908, 478 P.2d 284, 288 (1970). However, I.C.J.I. 103A is an alternative, proposed by the committee that developed the pattern criminal instructions. Our review is limited to whether the instruction that was given to the jury misstated the law or was so confusing and argumentative as to mislead the jury. State v. Rhoades, 121 Idaho at 82, 822 P.2d at 979. The Constitution does not dictate that any particular form of words be used in advising the jury of the State's burden of proof, so long as "taken as a whole, the instructions correctly conve[y] the concept of reasonable doubt." Holland v. United States, 348 U.S. at 140, 75 S.Ct. at 138.

Whether the jury instruction given regarding reasonable doubt is proper is a question of law over which the appellate court exercises free review. State v. Roll, 118 Idaho 936, 938, 801 P.2d 1287, 1289 (Ct.App.1990). When reviewing jury instructions, we first ask whether the instructions as a whole, and not individually, fairly and accurately reflect the applicable law. State v. Enno, 119 Idaho 392, 405, 807, P.2d 610, 623 (1991); State v. Bowman, 124 Idaho 936, 942, 866 P.2d 193, 199 (Ct.App.1993). To be considered reversible error, an instruction must have misled the jury or prejudiced the complaining party. Salinas v. Vierstra, 107 Idaho 984, 991, 695 P.2d 369, 376 (1985).

Gleason cites Cage v. Louisiana, 498 U.S. 39, 111 S.Ct. 328, 112 L.Ed.2d 339 (1990), as support for the proposition that the magistrate overstated the reasonable doubt necessary for acquittal. 1 In Cage, the Court held that the terms "grave uncertainty" and "actual substantial doubt" suggested a higher degree of doubt than is necessary. Cage v. Louisiana, 498 U.S. at 40, 111 S.Ct. at 329. In construing the instruction, the Court stated that the words "substantial" and "grave," coupled with "moral certainty" rather than evidentiary uncertainty could cause a reasonable juror to make a finding of guilt based upon a higher degree of doubt than is necessary. Id. After reviewing the instruction as a whole, the Court struck down the reasonable doubt instruction based on the combination of the three terms.

The instruction given in present case is unlike the instruction given in Cage. Here, the instruction at issue does not use the terms "grave uncertainty," "actual substantial doubt" or "moral certainty." To that extent, Cage is not applicable. Nevertheless, Gleason asserts that the terms "doubt which would make an ordinary person hesitant to act" and "in the most important affairs of his or her own life" create a higher doubt than is necessary.

In Victor v. Nebraska, 511 U.S. 1, 114 S.Ct. 1239, 127 L.Ed.2d 583 (1994), the Supreme Court approved language which defined reasonable doubt as "that which would cause a reasonable person to hesitate to act." This language is similar to the first part of the instruction at issue here. The Court stated that the "hesitate to act" standard gives a common-sense benchmark for just how substantial such doubt must be, and that this formulation has been repeatedly approved. Victor, 511 U.S. at 20, 114 S.Ct. at 1250. In addition, in Taylor, the Idaho Supreme Court approved a reasonable doubt instruction referring to "the important affairs of life," similar to the second part of the instruction under review here. Taylor, 76 Idaho at 362, 283 P.2d at 585. The instruction in Taylor contained the phrase, "a doubt which would cause you to hesitate in the ordinary affairs of life." Id. The Idaho Court held that "ordinary affairs of life" was improper, but that "important affairs of life" had been long approved by the Court, citing State v. Nolan, 31 Idaho 71, 169 P. 295 (1917). See also State v. Moon, 20 Idaho 202, 117 P. 757 (1911) and State v. Lyons, 7 Idaho 530, 64 P. 236 (1901).

In the present case, we conclude, after reviewing the instruction as a whole, that the reasonable doubt instruction does not suggest a higher degree of doubt than is necessary for acquittal. The doubt which would make an ordinary person hesitant to act in the important affairs of life does not create a higher degree of doubt than is necessary. Consequently, we find no error with respect to the instruction given.

B. Suppression of Gleason's Post-Arrest Statements

Prior to Gleason's trial, an order was entered suppressing statements he had made in response to questioning by Officer Brownlee, on the ground that Gleason had not been advised of his Miranda rights before the interrogation. Now, Gleason contends that the post-arrest statements he spontaneously made while seated in the patrol car, which statements were not responsive to any questions, also were obtained in violation of his Miranda rights because he was not advised of his right to remain silent at the commencement of his detention and before he spoke. The magistrate refused to suppress Gleason's spontaneous remarks, finding that Gleason was not subjected to any...

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  • State v. Sheahan
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    ...proof, so long as `taken as a whole, the instructions correctly conve[y] the concept of reasonable doubt.'" State v. Gleason, 130 Idaho 586, 589, 944 P.2d 721, 724 (Ct.App.1997) (quoting Holland v. United States, 348 U.S. 121, 140, 75 S.Ct. 127, 137-38, 99 L.Ed. 150, 166 (1954)). An erroneo......
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