State v. Guadagni

Decision Date29 February 2008
Docket NumberNo. 2 CA-CR 2006-0251.,2 CA-CR 2006-0251.
Citation218 Ariz. 1,178 P.3d 473
PartiesThe STATE of Arizona, Appellee, v. Donald Allen GUADAGNI, Appellant.
CourtArizona Court of Appeals

Terry Goddard, Arizona Attorney General, By Randall M. Howe and Kathryn A. Damstra, Tucson, for Appellee.

Isabel G. Garcia, Pima County Legal Defender, By Stephan J. McCaffery, Tucson, for Appellant.

OPINION

ECKERSTROM, Presiding Judge.

¶ 1 Appellant Donald Allen Guadagni was convicted after a jury trial of one count of bigamy, a class five felony, and ordered to pay restitution to the two women he had married. On appeal, Guadagni argues the state presented insufficient evidence of his later marriage to support his conviction. He also contends that his wife and putative spouse were not victims eligible to receive restitution and that the court erred by ordering restitution after a hearing at which neither he nor his counsel was present. We affirm Guadagni's conviction but vacate the restitution award and remand this matter to the trial court for a redetermination of restitution.

Facts and Procedural Background

¶ 2 Guadagni was charged by indictment with bigamy, a class five felony, in violation of A.R.S. § 13-3606(A). The state offered evidence at trial showing Guadagni had married Gail D. on October 4, 1990, and, while still married to and living with Gail, he participated in a marriage ceremony with Sarah W. on September 1, 2000. Guadagni and Sarah had obtained a marriage license earlier that day from the Pima County Superior Court, and they both signed it following a solemnization ceremony held in Reid Park. The licensed minister who presided over the ceremony also signed the license, along with two witnesses. The minister then gave the license to Guadagni and Sarah at their request. Neither Guadagni nor Sarah ever recorded the license.

¶ 3 Sarah had known Guadagni had been married before, but Guadagni showed her a document that convinced her he and Gail were divorced. Gail learned about the later marriage when she discovered the license among Guadagni's paperwork.

¶ 4 At the close of the state's evidence, Guadagni moved for a judgment of acquittal under Rule 20, Ariz. R.Crim. P. He argued, inter alia, that he was not married to Sarah because neither he nor Sarah had ever recorded the license and that failure demonstrated his lack of intent to marry. The trial court denied the motion and the jury found Guadagni guilty of bigamy.

¶ 5 The trial court suspended the imposition of sentence, placed Guadagni on three years' supervised probation, and ordered him to serve fifteen days in jail as a condition of probation. At the sentencing hearing. Sarah requested $2,000 in restitution for the cost of obtaining an annulment; Gail requested $1,966.74 for lost wages and travel expenses incurred as a result of Guadagni's trial. Guadagni maintained Gail was not a victim under Arizona law and requested a "hearing on the requested restitution." The court scheduled the hearing for September 11, 2006. Due to a scheduling conflict, the court continued the hearing to September 25.

¶ 6 Neither Guadagni nor his attorney appeared on September 25. However, Guadagni's attorney, Anthony Knowles, had filed a "motion to withdraw as counsel of record," dated September 22, which was received by the court on September 25, the day of the hearing. Nonetheless, the court proceeded with the hearing, stating at the outset:

I will note the absence of Mr. Knowles. He did call and left a message1 indicating that he had withdrawn from representing the defendant, at least at the Court of Appeals. I believe he is still of record in this case and we will proceed in his absence and in the absence of the defendant.

Although Gail appeared at the hearing and Sarah was available to testify telephonically from her home in Canada, the court concluded that the matter was uncontested and required no testimony from either of them. The court accepted supporting documentation from the state and ordered restitution for the full amounts sought by Gail and Sarah totaling $4,164.88.2 This appeal followed.

Sufficiency of the Evidence

¶ 7 Guadagni first argues the state presented insufficient evidence he and Sarah were married because the couple took no action to record their marriage license, as required by A.R.S. § 25-125(B). Guadagni maintains there consequently was no marriage under Arizona law and, therefore, the trial court erred in denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Rule 20.

¶ 8 We review a trial court's denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal for an abuse of discretion and will reverse only if no substantial evidence supports the conviction. Ariz. R.Crim. P. 20(a); State v. Henry, 205 Ariz. 229, ¶ 11, 68 P.3d 455, 458 (App.2003). Substantial evidence is evidence that a reasonable jury can accept as sufficient to infer guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Fulminante, 193 Ariz. 485, ¶ 24, 975 P.2d 75, 83 (1999). If reasonable fact-finders could differ on the inferences to be drawn from the evidence, we must accept those reasonable inferences that support the verdict. Id. ¶ 27, 975 P.2d 75; Henry, 205 Ariz. 229, ¶ 11, 68 P.3d at 458. When, as here, we must construe the meaning of a statute to determine whether sufficient evidence has been presented, we conduct that part of our analysis de novo, and, in so doing, our principal aim is to effectuate legislative intent. Henry, 205 Ariz. 229, ¶¶ 13-14, 68 P.3d at 459.

¶ 9 Arizona's bigamy statute provides: "A person having a spouse living who knowingly marries any other person is guilty of a class 5 felony." § 13-3606(A). Thus, to convict a person of that crime, the state must prove that a person knowingly has married another person, and that the accused would have had a valid subsequent marriage under Arizona civil law but for his or her earlier, ongoing marriage. See Ford v. State, 21 Ariz. 567, 570, 192 P. 1117, 1118 (1920) (bigamy charge must allege second marriage would have been legal marriage but for existence of other spouse; state must prove details of second marriage, including prima facie authority of person officiating); cf. United States v. Tenney, 2 Ariz. 127, 135, 11 P. 472, 475 (1886) (affirming federal bigamy conviction, holding "marriage laws of Arizona would govern as the proof of marriage").3

¶ 10 Section 25-111, A.R.S., sets forth the requirements for a lawful marriage in Arizona:

A. A marriage shall not be contracted by agreement without a marriage ceremony.

B. A marriage contracted within this state is not valid unless all of the following occur:

1. A license is issued as provided in this title.

2. The marriage is solemnized by a person authorized by law to solemnize marriages or by a person purporting to act in such capacity and believed in good faith by at least one of the parties to be so authorized.

3. The marriage is solemnized before the expiration of the marriage license.

Section 25-125 further provides:

A. A valid marriage is contracted by a male person and a female person with a proper marriage license who participate in a ceremony conducted by and in the presence of a person who is authorized to solemnize marriages and at which at least two witnesses who are at least eighteen years of age participate.

B. A marriage license shall be signed by both persons married, two of the witnesses to the marriage ceremony and the person who solemnized the marriage, who shall return the signed marriage license to the clerk of the superior court for recording.

Although Guadagni is correct that § 25-125(B) requires that a marriage license be recorded, nothing in that or any other pertinent statute establishes what effect, if any, the failure to record has on the validity of a marriage.

¶ 11 Notably, the requirement that a marriage license be filed and recorded is directed at the official who solemnizes a marriage, not the parties to the marriage. § 25-125; Barbosa-Johnson v. Johnson, 174 Ariz. 567, 569, 851 P.2d 866, 868 (App.1993). And, the only express sanction for the failure to file and record the license is likewise directed exclusively at the official. See A.R.S. § 25-128(A)(3), (B) (official who has failed to record license commits class two misdemeanor). Together those provisions suggest that the legislature intended to enforce the recording requirement by creating incentives for the relevant official to carry out that duty—rather than by invalidating the marriage altogether, a sanction that would, under most circumstances, impose significant legal consequences on the marrying parties for a mere ministerial oversight. See State v. Huskie, 202 Ariz. 283, ¶ 5, 44 P.3d 161, 163 (App.2002) (in determining legislative intent, we consider, inter alia, statute's "`consequences, spirit and purpose'"). quoting Hobson v. Mid-Century Ins. Co., 199 Ariz. 525, ¶ 8, 19 P.3d 1241 1245 (App.2001). We therefore follow existing Arizona jurisprudence and reject Gaudagni's claim that the mere failure to record a marriage license invalidates the marriage. See Barbosa-Johnson, 174 Ariz. at 568-69, 851 P.2d at 867-68 (finding marriage not invalidated by non-recording of license even when license remains in parties' control).

¶ 12 Having concluded the state need not prove that a marriage license was recorded to demonstrate a person has "knowingly marrie[d]" in violation of § 13-3606(A), we reject Guadagni's claim that the state presented insufficient evidence of his guilt. Guadagni does not dispute that he was married to Gail at the time he participated in a marriage ceremony with Sarah and that his marriage to Gail was valid. The state presented evidence that Guadagni and Sarah had obtained a marriage license together, exchanged vows in the presence of a minister and two suitable witnesses, and signed their names to the license. Thus, Guadagni and Sarah did all that was statutorily required of them to marry each other and, were it not for his ongoing marriage...

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