Melene James v. City of Boise, et al.
The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of an excessive force
claim and various state law claims against the City and multiple
Boise police officers in connection with the use of a police dog
during a burglary investigation.
The Plaintiff, Ms. James, was the subject of a 911 call one
Sunday evening in December, 2010 after a citizen reported seeing an
intoxicated woman crawling through a broken basement window into a
closed dental office. The first officer to arrive on scene observed
the broken window and briefly glimpsed a woman in the basement.
Another responding officer contacted the building owner and learned
no one should be in the building at that time. Officers gained
entry to the building by obtaining a key from either the building
owner or the cleaning lady, both of whom came to the scene.
Officers made several loud, recorded announcements before, during,
and after entry into the building in an attempt to get the woman to
exit peacefully. She did not respond to any of the announcements,
despite the inclusion of warnings about use of a police dog that
were followed by the dog's loud barking in the building. Officers
searched the building with the police dog and the dog ultimately
located Ms. James in the basement. The dog bit her and held her
until officers were able to clear her of weapons. It subsequently
came to light that Ms. James had the permission of a building
tenant to use the basement.
Ms. James brought several claims against the City and responding
police officers premised upon the assertion that police should have
known who she was and why she was in the building such that their
use of any force against her (use of the police dog) was
unnecessary. The district court and then the Idaho Supreme Court
disagreed with Ms. James, finding instead that investigating
officers acted in an objectively reasonable manner based upon the
information available to them. Specifically, the Supreme Court
stated officers had probable cause to believe that a burglary was
in progress at the dental office and they were entitled to
qualified immunity from Ms. James' excessive force claim. Finally,
the Court awarded attorney fees and costs to the City on appeal as
the prevailing party.
State of Idaho v. Wade Allen Tomlinson
The Honorable Judge Michael McLaughlin upheld the Magistrate
Court's ruling in the City's favor that evidence of impairment,
rising and/or descending blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, and
measurement of uncertainty in breathalyzer instruments are
irrelevant in a prosecution forper se driving under the
The Defendant was charged with driving under the influence (DUI)
in the underlying case. The State elected to proceed on a per
se basis, that is, the City alleged the Defendant was guilty of DUI
by having a blood alcohol content test result that was above the
legal limit of 0.08. The State argued, and the Court agreed,
that because the only issue in a per se DUI is whether or not the
test results were above a 0.08, evidence of impairment, rising
and/or descending BAC levels, and measurement of uncertainty in the
breathalyzer instrument was irrelevant. The jury found the
Defendant guilty of DUI.
The Defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the District
Court had erred in excluding such evidence as irrelevant. The
District Court, like the Magistrate Court, agreed with the City
that such evidence is irrelevant in a per se DUI prosecution.
The Defendant has now appealed to the Idaho Court of
Appeals. That appeal is still pending.
State of Idaho v.
Defendant was stopped for driving without headlights and
admitted to drinking alcohol. A Boise Police officer had
Defendant perform three standardized field sobriety tests.
Defendant failed the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test but
passed the walk-and-turn test and one-leg-stand test. The
police officer arrested Defendant for DUI and conducted a breath
test which registered a breath alcohol concentration of .090 and
Defendant filed a motion to suppress, asserting that the
arresting officer lacked probable cause to arrest him. The
Magistrate Court agreed, and suppressed Defendant's breath
test. It held that the arresting officer placed too much
weight on the HGN test because the other roadside tests rendered
the HGN unreliable and therefore, the officer lacked probable cause
to arrest Defendant.
The Idaho Court of Appeals reversed. It explained
that although Defendant did not fail each of the field sobriety
tests, the remaining information was sufficient to supply probable
cause to arrest. Here, the other evidence included Defendant
driving without headlights for several blocks. The officer
also noted the odor of alcohol on Defendant's breath and that
Defendant's eyes were glassy and bloodshot. Defendant also
admitted that he had been drinking, was coming from a bar, and had
consumed 3 vodka tonics. Defendant failed the HGN test and
although he did not fail other tests, he did show some indicia of
intoxication on the others. The Court of Appeals held that under
the totality of the circumstances, an officer is not required to
ignore other indicia of intoxication when an individual partially
performs well on field sobriety
tests. The case was remanded and set for
917 Lusk LLC v. City of
The Honorable Judge Kathryn Sticklen upheld the City Council's
April 17, 2012, decision approving a Conditional Use Permit for a
height exception to construct a five story multi-family residential
building located at 1004 W. Royal Boulevard.
The Petitioner,917 Lusk LLC, owned the building next to the
proposed development and asserted that the City didn't properly
consider the effects a height increase would have on parking in the
Lusk Street area. Their argument was that allowing the
building to be taller meant there would be more floors and thus
more apartment units created. As a result of more apartment
units being created, parking spots available for the established
residents would be decreased thereby making the proposed
development incompatible with the neighborhood.
The Court was not swayed by the Petitioner's argument, noting
that the City Council and the Planning & Zoning Commission
spent ample time considering the parking issue after hearing
testimony about its effects - thereby satisfying both procedural
and due process claims. The Court ultimately dispensed with
the case by way ofHawkins v. Bonneville Co, 151 Idaho 228 (2011),
which held that the non-applicant appellant has no interest in
seeing another person's land use application adjudicated correctly;
that they must show some harm to their own substantial
rights. The Court ruled917 Lusk LLCshowed no such