State v. Williamson, No. 33068.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Idaho
Writing for the CourtPerry
Citation166 P.3d 387,144 Idaho 597
PartiesSTATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Isaac Burton WILLIAMSON, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date17 May 2007
Docket NumberNo. 33068.
166 P.3d 387
144 Idaho 597
STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Isaac Burton WILLIAMSON, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 33068.
Court of Appeals of Idaho.
May 17, 2007.
Rehearing Denied July 5, 2007.
Review Denied August 31, 2007.

[166 P.3d 388]

Isaac Burton Williamson, Boise, pro se appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Lori A. Fleming, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

PERRY, Chief Judge.


Isaac Burton Williamson appeals from the intermediate appellate order of the district court affirming Williamson's judgment of conviction for exceeding the speed limit. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I.
FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Two police officers, one acting as a spotting officer and the other as a chase officer, were part of a traffic enforcement unit. The spotting officer was positioned on an overpass where he could see vehicles traveling on the roadway below. The spotting officer visually determined that a vehicle, driven by Williamson, was traveling in excess of the speed limit. The spotting officer confirmed his visual estimation with a laser speed detection device and then reported to the chase officer that the vehicle was traveling at 76 mph. The posted speed limit was 55 mph. The spotting officer also relayed to the chase officer the make and model of Williamson's vehicle. The chase officer, in a separate police vehicle, pursued Williamson's vehicle and was guided directly behind it via radio by the spotting officer who was visually monitoring the pursuit from his vantage point. Acting on the information relayed to him, the chase officer stopped Williamson and issued him a citation.

At trial, both police officers testified, as did Williamson, who was acting pro se. After trial, the magistrate found Williamson guilty of driving a vehicle in excess of the maximum speed limit, I.C. § 49-654(2), and entered a judgment of conviction. Williamson appealed his judgment of conviction to the district

166 P.3d 389

court, which the district court affirmed. Williamson again appeals.

II.
ANALYSIS

On review of a decision of the district court, rendered in its appellate capacity, we examine the record of the trial court independently of, but with due regard for, the district court's intermediate appellate decision. State v. Bowman, 124 Idaho 936, 939, 866 P.2d 193, 196 (Ct.App.1993). On appeal, Williamson challenges the admissibility of the results of the laser speed detection device and a portion of the chase officer's testimony. Williamson also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his judgment of conviction.

A. Admissibility of Evidence

The decision whether to admit evidence at trial is generally within the province of the trial court. A trial court's determination that evidence is supported by a proper foundation is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. State v. Gilpin, 132 Idaho 643, 646, 977 P.2d 905, 908 (Ct.App.1999). Therefore, a trial court's determination as to the admission of evidence at trial will only be reversed where there has been an abuse of that discretion. State v. Zimmerman, 121 Idaho 971, 973-74, 829 P.2d 861, 863-64 (1992). When a trial court's discretionary decision is reviewed on appeal, the appellate court conducts a multi-tiered inquiry to determine: (1) whether the lower court correctly perceived the issue as one of discretion; (2) whether the lower court acted within the boundaries of such discretion and consistently with any legal standards applicable to the specific choices before it; and (3) whether the lower court reached its decision by an exercise of reason. State v. Hedger, 115 Idaho 598, 600, 768 P.2d 1331, 1333 (1989).

1. General reliability of laser devices

On appeal, Williamson asserts the magistrate abused its discretion in admitting the results of the laser speed detection device. Williamson argues the state failed to present scientific evidence of the laser's general reliability and, as a result, the evidence is inadmissible. While not entirely clear, Williamson also appears to argue that because the magistrate did not take judicial notice of the general reliability of the laser to measure speed and the state did not request it do so, the magistrate erred in admitting the evidence absent such judicial notice.

We note initially that when a party appeals the decision of an intermediate appellate court, the appellant may not raise issues that are different from those presented to the intermediate court. State v. Sheahan, 139 Idaho 267, 275, 77 P.3d 956, 964 (2003). While the parties' briefs submitted to the district court are not in the record before us, the district court's order affirming Williamson's judgment of conviction is. The language of the district court's order makes it unclear whether, on intermediate appeal, Williamson challenged the state's evidence establishing the accuracy of the individual laser used by the spotting officer or the scientific reliability of lasers in general. However, because the issues framed by the intermediate court's opinion could have included the reliability of lasers in general, we consider Williamson's argument on appeal.

Previously, we have accepted the general reliability of radar speed detection devices. See State v. Kane, 122 Idaho 623, 624, 836 P.2d 569, 570 (Ct.App.1992). We accepted the general reliability of such devices on the basis of decided cases in other jurisdictions in the absence of any relevant Idaho statute. Id. See also State v. Garrett, 119 Idaho 878, 881, 811 P.2d 488, 491 (1991) (holding the nystagmus eye test may provide probable cause to arrest in driving under the influence cases as multiple jurisdictions have concluded it is scientifically, generally reliable.)

Similarly, the general reliability of laser speed detection devices has also been accepted in other jurisdictions. See Ga.Code Ann. § 40-14-17 (evidence of speed based on a laser detection device is considered scientifically reliable and admissible); Va.Code Ann. § 46.2-882 (speed of any motor vehicle may be determined by the use of a laser speed determination device); State v. Stoa, 112 Hawai`i 260, 145 P.3d 803, 809-11 (Ct.

166 P.3d 390

App.2006) (laser speed device results are premised on well understood scientific principles); Goldstein v. State, 339 Md. 563, 664 A.2d 375, 381 (1995) (results of a laser speed device were admissible as they are premised on reliable, well-understood scientific principles); State v. Abeskaron, 326 N.J.Super. 110, 740 A.2d 690, 694 (App.Div.1999) (affirming lower court's determination that laser devices, subject to listed restrictions, are an appropriate tool to measure speed); City of Columbus v. Barton, 106 Ohio Misc.2d 17, 733 N.E.2d 326, 327 (1994) (laser device is a reliable and accurate method of scientifically measuring the speed of a moving object); Jury v. State, Dept. of Licensing, 114 Wash. App. 726, 60 P.3d 615, 619 (2002) (acknowledging that laser speed detection technology is accepted in other jurisdictions as scientifically reliable).

On the basis of decided cases and law in other jurisdictions, and in the absence of any relevant Idaho statute, we hold that laser speed detection devices are generally reliable and their results may be admitted into evidence in Idaho courts. Because the reliability of the laser is generally accepted, the magistrate did not err in admitting the evidence in the absence of taking specific judicial notice or the state presenting scientific evidence of the laser's reliability. Accordingly, we conclude the magistrate did not abuse its discretion in admitting the laser results.

2. Foundation for admission of laser results

Williamson also asserts that, even if lasers are generally reliable, the magistrate abused its discretion in admitting the results of the laser device because the spotting officer's testimony failed to lay a proper foundation for the admission of those results. Specifically, Williamson argues that the state failed to establish that the spotting officer was qualified to operate a laser device or that the unit was properly maintained or used correctly.

As with radar devices, we conclude that, when a laser device is used to determine a defendant is driving in excess of the maximum speed limit, the proper use and accuracy of the device in question must be established by the state in order to introduce the evidence at trial. See Kane, 122 Idaho at 624-25, 836 P.2d at 570-71. Therefore, in each speeding prosecution that seeks to introduce laser evidence, the state must prove that the officer was qualified to operate the device, that the unit was properly maintained, and that it was used correctly. See id.

Generally, issues not raised below may not be considered for the first time on appeal. State v. Fodge, 121 Idaho 192, 195, 824 P.2d 123, 126 (1992). For an objection to be preserved for appellate review either the specific grounds for the objection must be clearly stated or the basis of the objection must be apparent from the context. Sheahan, 139 Idaho at 277, 77 P.3d at 966. An objection is not preserved for review when the objection argued on appeal was either distinct from that raised below or the evidence objected to below and on appeal was substantially different. Id.

Williamson never objected to the admission of the results of the laser device on the basis that there was insufficient foundation establishing the spotting officer's ability to correctly use the device or that the device was properly maintained. On the contrary, a review of the trial transcript indicates Williamson accepted and understood the evidence presented which demonstrated the spotting officer had been trained to use the laser device. Williamson did, however, properly object to the introduction of the results of the laser device at trial. This objection was based on the specific grounds that the state failed to provide evidence demonstrating the scientific reliability of laser devices generally. This objection to the...

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17 practice notes
  • City of Brook Park v. Rodojev, No. 2019-0056
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • June 10, 2020
    ...576-577, 664 A.2d 375 (1995) ; People v. Mann , 397 Ill.App.3d 767, 772, 337 Ill.Dec. 410, 922 N.E.2d 533 (2010) ; State v. Williamson , 144 Idaho 597, 600, 166 P.3d 387 (2007) ; In re Admissibility of Motor Vehicle Speed Readings Produced by LTI Marksman 20-20 Laser Speed Detection Sys. , ......
  • City of Brookpark v. Rodojev, No. 106313
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 13, 2018
    ...809-811 (App.2006), overruled in part on other grounds , State v. Assaye , 121 Haw. 204, 216 P.3d 1227 (2009) ; State v. Williamson , 144 Idaho 597, 166 P.3d 387 (2007) ; Jury v. State Dept. , 114 Wash.App. 726, 60 P.3d 615 (2002) ; People v. DePass , 165 Misc.2d 217, 629 N.Y.S.2d 367 (1995......
  • State Of Idaho v. Vogelpohl, Docket No. 36394
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Idaho
    • November 5, 2010
    ...a showing that the device or methodology employed is reliable and yields accurate information or test results. State v. Williamson, 144 Idaho 597, 602, 166 P.3d 387, 392 (Ct. App. 2007) (Lansing, J., concurring) (laser speed detection device). See also State v. Perry, 139 Idaho 520, 522-23,......
  • People v. Mann, No. 2-08-1006.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • January 15, 2010
    ...803, 809-11 (App.2006), overruled in part on other grounds, State v. Assaye, 121 Hawai`i 204, 216 P.3d 1227 (2009); State v. Williamson, 144 Idaho 597, 166 P.3d 387 (2007); Jury v. State Dept., 114 Wash.App. 726, 60 P.3d 615 (2002). In addition, in People v. DePass, 165 Misc.2d 217, 629 N.Y......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • City of Brook Park v. Rodojev, No. 2019-0056
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • June 10, 2020
    ...576-577, 664 A.2d 375 (1995) ; People v. Mann , 397 Ill.App.3d 767, 772, 337 Ill.Dec. 410, 922 N.E.2d 533 (2010) ; State v. Williamson , 144 Idaho 597, 600, 166 P.3d 387 (2007) ; In re Admissibility of Motor Vehicle Speed Readings Produced by LTI Marksman 20-20 Laser Speed Detection Sys. , ......
  • City of Brookpark v. Rodojev, No. 106313
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 13, 2018
    ...809-811 (App.2006), overruled in part on other grounds , State v. Assaye , 121 Haw. 204, 216 P.3d 1227 (2009) ; State v. Williamson , 144 Idaho 597, 166 P.3d 387 (2007) ; Jury v. State Dept. , 114 Wash.App. 726, 60 P.3d 615 (2002) ; People v. DePass , 165 Misc.2d 217, 629 N.Y.S.2d 367 (1995......
  • State Of Idaho v. Vogelpohl, Docket No. 36394
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Idaho
    • November 5, 2010
    ...a showing that the device or methodology employed is reliable and yields accurate information or test results. State v. Williamson, 144 Idaho 597, 602, 166 P.3d 387, 392 (Ct. App. 2007) (Lansing, J., concurring) (laser speed detection device). See also State v. Perry, 139 Idaho 520, 522-23,......
  • People v. Mann, No. 2-08-1006.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • January 15, 2010
    ...803, 809-11 (App.2006), overruled in part on other grounds, State v. Assaye, 121 Hawai`i 204, 216 P.3d 1227 (2009); State v. Williamson, 144 Idaho 597, 166 P.3d 387 (2007); Jury v. State Dept., 114 Wash.App. 726, 60 P.3d 615 (2002). In addition, in People v. DePass, 165 Misc.2d 217, 629 N.Y......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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