Reminder: Amendments to the Idaho Appellate Rules and Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure go into effect July 1, 2017

In May, we wrote about amendments to the Idaho Appellate Rules that go into effect July 1, 2017. You can link to the blog post here. The changes impact I.A.R. 11.1, 12.1, 12.2, 25, 27(f), 28(g), 32(b), 33, 34(a), 34.1, and 40. Key amendments address the submission of electronic briefs (they are now mandatory), the reporter’s standard transcript in criminal appeals (the contents have changed), and magistrate appeals involving child custody (the rules have largely been streamlined).

You should also be aware of recent amendments to the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure that go into effect on July 1. Pursuant to I.R.C.P. 3(d)(1), both the initiating and responding party must file a case information sheet in all new civil cases (other than small claims actions). Under the prior rule, a case information sheet was only required of the initiating party in certain cases such as guardianships and adoptions. In addition, the Idaho Supreme Court has a created new forms for summons and garnishments. More information on the changes can be found here.

Cases of First Impression Part Three: Statute of Limitations for Foreclosure

In Baughman v. Wells Fargo Bank, 2017 Opinion 50 (May 26, 2017) (slip op.), the Supreme Court addressed a matter of first impression related to the statute of limitations in Idaho Code § 5-214A. In this case, the plaintiffs filed suit to prevent foreclosure by arguing that the foreclosure proceeding was barred by the statute of limitations. Idaho Code § 5-214A provides: “An action for the foreclosure of a mortgage on real property must be commenced within five (5) years from the maturity date of the obligation or indebtedness secured by such mortgage.” (emphasis added).  The district court concluded that despite the listed maturity date of March 2047 in the deed of trust, the bank’s recording of a notice of default in January 2009, which expressly declared that all sums secured by the deed of trust were immediately due and payable, triggered the five-year statute of limitations. The Supreme Court disagreed, concluding that a notice of default rendering amounts immediately due did not modify the expressly stated maturity date of March 2047. Slip op. at 6. Therefore, the five-year statute of limitations for foreclosure would not begin to run until the listed maturity date on the deed of trust: March 2047.

Cases of First Impression Part Two: Limits of Sovereign Immunity

This Spring, the Idaho Supreme Court issued several opinions addressing issues of first impression. Below are the highlights from a second opinion addressing such an issue, Tucker v. State.

In Tucker v. State, 2017 Opinion 38 (Apr. 28, 2017) (slip op.), as a matter of first impression, the Supreme Court concluded that sovereign immunity does not insulate the State of Idaho from suit when constitutional violations are alleged.  Here, Plaintiffs had filed a class action challenging Idaho’s public defense system and arguing it violated the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 13 of the Idaho Constitution. Plaintiffs named the State of Idaho as a defendant. The district court concluded that the State was immune from the federal law claims but not the Idaho constitutional claims.  In affirming this determination, the Supreme Court made two observations. First, many other jurisdictions have held that in order to prevent State constitutional rights from being rendered meaningless, sovereign immunity “does not apply when constitutional violations are alleged.” Slip op. at 4. Second, because sovereign immunity is a common law doctrine, the Supreme Court has the power to modify it. Id. at 3. Within that framework, the Supreme Court rejected the State’s position that sovereign immunity protected it from the Idaho constitutional claims. Id. Any other result “would leave parties unable to vindicate constitutional rights against the State.” Id. at 4.

Idaho Supreme Court Addresses Issues of First Impression

This Spring, the Idaho Supreme Court issued several opinions addressing issues of first impression. Below are the highlights from one of these opinions, Westover v. Cundick. We’ll discuss the other cases that have addressed new issues in the coming weeks.

In Westover v. Cundick, 2017 Opinion 33 (Apr. 14, 2017) (slip op.), the Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c) imposes a duty on a district court to sua sponte grant injunctive relief when it is not requested.  The Court addressed a prior version of Rule 54(c), which provided: “every final judgment shall grant the relief to which the party in whose favor it is rendered is entitled, even if the party has not demanded such relief in his pleadings.”  (Emphasis added.) The Court concluded that a lower court was not obligated to grant unrequested relief based on the plain language of the Rule because the plaintiffs were “not the ‘party in whose favor’ the judgment was rendered.” Slip op. at 5. However, the Court noted that Rule 54(c) has been amended, effective July 2016, to provide: “final judgment should grant the relief to which each party is entitled, even if the party has not demanded that relief in its pleadings.” Id. at 5 n.1 (emphasis added). The Court provided no guidance as to how its holding would apply to the current Rule 54(c) language. With the holding in Cundick being closely tied to the very language modified in the Rule, it appears that this issue could come before the Court again in the coming years.

Amendments to the Idaho Appellate Rules address electronic briefs, standard transcripts in criminal appeals, and appealable judgments from the magistrate courts

The Idaho Supreme Court recently announced amendments to Idaho Appellate Rules 11.1, 12.1, 12.2, 25, 27(f), 28(g), 32(b), 33, 34(a), 34.1, and 40. The changes go into effect July 1, 2017. Attorneys handling appeals before the Supreme Court should note that the submission of electronic briefs will be mandatory. Criminal appellate attorneys will want to consider changes to the reporter’s standard transcript. Attorneys who handle magistrate appeals involving child custody need to be aware of changes to Rules 11.1, 12.1, and 12.2.

There are other rule changes as well. Here are the highlights: Continue Reading

Idaho Supreme Court amends Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 54 to address changes to Idaho Code § 12-121

In response to the Idaho Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Hoffer v. Shappard, 160 Idaho 868, 380 P.3d 681 (2016), the Idaho legislature amended Idaho Code § 12-121 (effective March 1, 2017). The statute now reads:

In any civil action, the judge may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party or parties when the judge finds that the case was brought, pursued or defended frivolously, unreasonably or without foundation. This section shall not alter, repeal or amend any statute that otherwise provides for the award of attorney’s fees.

In response to the change, the Idaho Supreme Court recently announced an amendment to Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 54, adding the following provision as Rule 54(e)(2):

Pursuant to Idaho Code Section 12-121. Pursuant to the statutory amendment effective March 1, 2017, attorney fees under Idaho Code Section 12-121 may be awarded by the court only when it finds that the case was brought, pursued or defended frivolously, unreasonably or without foundation, which finding must be in writing and include the basis and reasons for the award. No attorney fees may be awarded pursuant to Idaho Code Section 12-121 on a default judgment.

Rule 54(e)(2) is effective retroactively as of March 1, 2017. You can read the full amendment here: https://isc.idaho.gov/rules/Amendment_of_IRCP_54_03.01.17.pdf.

Idaho Supreme Court Justice candidates are announced

Today the Idaho Judicial Council announced 15 candidates for the position of Idaho Supreme Court Justice. The position was created with the retirement of Justice Daniel Eismann. The candidates include one Idaho Court of Appeals judge, six district court judges, and eight practicing lawyers. They are:

  • BEVAN, G. RICHARD, is a District Judge of the Fifth Judicial District, Twin Falls, Idaho
  • DOMAN, ANDREW P., is a Lawyer in private practice in St. Maries, Idaho
  • GUTIERREZ, SERGIO A., is a Judge for the Idaho Court of Appeals, Nampa, Idaho
  • HAMILTON, DAVID J., is a Lawyer in private practice in Twin Falls, Idaho
  • McKENZIE, CURT D., is a Lawyer in private practice in Boise, Idaho
  • MOELLER, GREGORY W., is a District Judge of the Seventh Judicial District, Rexburg, Idaho
  • POINTS, MICHELLE R., is a Lawyer in private practice in Boise, Idaho
  • PRICE, STEVEN B., is General Counsel, Ada County Highway District, Garden City, Idaho
  • RAINEY, REBECCA A., is a Lawyer in private practice in Boise, Idaho
  • SCOTT, JASON D., is a District Judge of the Fourth Judicial District, Boise, Idaho
  • STEGNER, JOHN R., is a District Judge of the Second Judicial District, Moscow, Idaho
  • THOMSON, JEFFREY A., is a Lawyer in private practice in Boise, Idaho
  • TINGEY, JOEL E., is a District Judge of the Seventh Judicial District, Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • WIEBE, SUSAN E., is a District Judge of the Third Judicial District, Fruitland, Idaho
  • WOODARD, WADE L., is a Lawyer in private practice in Boise, Idaho

I understand the Judicial Council will hold candidate interviews on July 31, 2017.

Idaho Supreme Court Refuses to Modify the Workers Compensation Exclusive Remedy Doctrine

In order to provide near certain relief for employees injured in the course of employment, the Idaho Worker’s Compensation Act withdrew the common law remedies workers traditionally held against their employers. This compromise limits employers’ liability in exchange for providing sure and speedy relief for injured workers and is encapsulated in Idaho Code § 72-209, or the exclusive remedy provision. Recently, in two closely watched cases, Marek v. Hecla, Limited, 2016 Opinion 132 (November 18, 2016) and Barrett v. Hecla Mining Co., 2016 Opinion 133 (November 18, 2016), the Idaho Supreme Court provided guidance on a narrow exception to this provision under Idaho Code § 72-209(3). Section 72-209(3) allows an employee to pursue common law claims against an employer in a narrow circumstance: “where the injury or death is proximately caused by the willful or unprovoked physical aggression of the employer, its officers, agents, servants or employees.” Continue Reading

Idaho Supreme Court announces significant change to standard for attorney fees under Idaho Code § 12-121

The Idaho Supreme Court announced a new standard for an award of attorney fees under Idaho Code § 12-121. See Hoffer v. Shappard, 2016 Opinion No. 105 (Idaho Sept. 28, 2016). Section 12-121 reads: “In any civil action, the judge may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party or parties, provided that this section shall not alter, repeal or amend any statute which otherwise provides for the award of attorney’s fees.” Since 1979, Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 54(e)(2) has limited the Idaho courts’ discretion to award attorney fees under the statute to instances where a case was “brought, pursued or defended frivolously, unreasonably or without foundation.”

Not anymore. Under the standard announced in Hoffer, “prevailing parties in civil litigation have the right to be made whole for attorney fees they have incurred ‘when justice so requires.’” Id. at 20. The Court did not offer guidance on the meaning of “when justice so requires.” Because the new standard “may have profound effects on litigants,” it does not become effective until March 1, 2017. Id. at 21. But, notably, the new standard “will have prospective effect, applying to all cases that have not become final as of that date.” Id. Continue Reading

Idaho Courts Not Authorized to Appoint Co-Guardians of a Minor

In the case of Does I v. Does II, Docket No. 43651-2015, 2016 Opinion No. 56 (May 27, 2016), the Idaho Supreme Court vacated a judgment that appointed two sets of part-time co-guardians for a minor child and set forth a visitation schedule between the sets of guardians. The case originated after the minor child’s paternal grandparents (Does I) and the minor child’s maternal great-aunt and -uncle (Does II) each filed separate petitions seeking to be appointed as the child’s co-guardians. The magistrate court granted both petitions in part, giving each set of co-guardians the “full powers and duties of a guardian” under Idaho Code § 15-5-209. The magistrate entered a judgment appointing Does I as the primary guardians and appointing Does II as co-guardians having a set visitation schedule with the child.

The Idaho Supreme Court reversed. In doing so, the Court made several clarifying points about the nature of guardianship in Idaho. First, upon appointment, “[a] guardian in his or her discretion has the authority to have the custody of the ward and to determine with whom and under what conditions the ward can visit with others.” Slip op. at 3. Second, guardianship is not a custody proceeding. As such, the court’s authority in a guardianship proceeding is limited to appointing the guardian and removing the guardian, “but not to manag[ing] how the guardian exercises his or her powers and responsibilities.” Id. at 5. Third, building on the preceding two points, the Idaho guardianship statute does not authorize the court to appoint more than one guardian or co-guardians for the child. “Multiple guardians cannot each have the powers and responsibilities of a sole parent”; rather, “[t]here can be but one guardian appointed, and that guardian is to have all the powers and responsibilities of a sole parent.” Id. at 5, 6.  As a result, when the court is presented with two or more guardianship petitions that meet the statutory requirements under Idaho Code §§ 15-5-204 to -207, the court must appoint as guardian the sole petitioner whose appointment would be in the child’s best interest. The other petitions must be dismissed.

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