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Flipside , Hoffman Estates , Inc. It is a basic principle of due process that an enactment is void for vagueness if its prohibitions are not clearly defined. Grayned v. City of Rockford , U. Furthermore, as a matter of due process, no one may be required at the peril of loss of liberty to speculate as to the meaning of penal statutes. United States v. Smith , F. New Jersey , U.
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United States , cert. Korsen , Idaho , , 69 P.
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Michigan , U. Cook argues that her motion to suppress should have been granted because Idaho Code section 4 is unconstitutionally vague when applied to her case. Whether a statute is unconstitutionally vague is a pure question of law and therefore reviewed de novo. See Larsen , Idaho at , 24 P. A party claiming a statute is unconstitutional "must overcome a strong presumption of validity.
Freeman Co. Likewise, "[a]ppellate courts are obligated to seek an interpretation of a statute that upholds its constitutionality.
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Newman , Idaho 5, 13 n. However, "[a] void for vagueness challenge is more favorably acknowledged and a more stringent vagueness test will be applied where a statute imposes a criminal penalty. Flipside , Hoffman Estates , U. Gardner , F.
Bonner County Daily Bee - Local News, Kootenai County judge sets Isenberg’s bail at $75,
Goguen , U. A statute may be challenged as unconstitutionally vague on its face or as applied to a defendant's conduct. Cook only contends the statute is unconstitutional as applied. Vagueness "as applied" can be shown in two separate ways:. To succeed on an "as applied" vagueness challenge, a complainant must show that the statute, as applied to the defendant's conduct, failed to provide fair notice that the defendant's conduct was proscribed or failed to provide sufficient guidelines such that the police had unbridled discretion in determining whether to arrest him [or her].
When analyzing vagueness, "[t]he words of a statute alleged to be unconstitutionally vague should not be evaluated in the abstract, but should be considered in reference to the particular conduct of the defendant challenging the statute. Hansen , Idaho , P. Marek , Idaho , P. Those words "are given their commonly understood, everyday meanings, unless the legislature has provided a definition. Richards , Idaho 31, 38 , P. This Court has announced, as a general principle, that the "void-for-vagueness doctrine. After Korsen's clear delineation of "facial vagueness" and "vagueness as applied," the "ordinary people" standard might appear to be applicable only to a facial vagueness analysis; this is not so.
We find the "ordinary people" standard remains a helpful tool in "as applied" analyses and will be utilized here. See Pines v. Idaho State Bd. We begin our analysis with the statute itself. Idaho Code Section 4 reads, in its entirety:. We hold that this statute is unconstitutionally vague because it failed to inform Cook what she needed to do in order to comply with the statute. This conclusion is driven by important differences between this statute and those regulating the display of license plates.
Idaho Code section 2 establishes the requirements necessary for displaying license plates. That statute requires license plates to "be in a place and position to be clearly visible, and shall be maintained free from foreign materials and in a condition to be clearly legible. All the temporary permit statute appears to require is that the permit be displayed in a location that renders it readily legible and that it be displayed in that location while the vehicle is being driven—the statute does not direct a motorist to keep the permit "clearly visible" or "maintained free from foreign materials.
The legislature could have easily included language requiring the permit to be "clearly visible" or "free from foreign materials," which would apprise a motorist that if her window were to fog over she would be in violation of the statute. The legislature recognized that these factors would be important in the context of displaying license plates.
However, it did not use language requiring the same for temporary permits. Although section 4 provides that a posted permit must be readily legible where posted, it does not indicate a distance from which the permit must be readable. Contrast this to Idaho Code section 1 , which statute makes clear that license plates "shall be of sufficient size to be plainly readable from a distance of seventy-five 75 feet during daylight. In addition, section 4 requires the Transportation Board to promulgate rules to establish the form of temporary permits.
In our review of the Idaho Administrative Rules promulgated by the Board, we were unable to find a rule that the Board has enacted which creates a form for temporary permits. See , e. Consequently, while the Board was obligated to create a form for the motoring public by promulgating a rule, it has not done so. This Court has held that when an agency is tasked with the responsibility of providing adequate guidance to warn individuals that specific conduct would be subject to punishment, yet fails to do so, the underlying statute may be found unconstitutionally vague as applied to that specific conduct.
Accordingly, without clear guidance from the Board or the statute on whether the permit need only be readily legible at the time of posting or whether the permit had to be readable from some distance away, it is impossible for a person of ordinary intelligence to understand that she had not complied with the statute despite posting a valid permit where statutorily directed. Likewise, it was reasonable for Cook to understand she had complied with the statute when: she posted a valid permit that was issued to her, the permit was posted in her rear windshield and was visible and readable when posted, and the permit remained in that location while her vehicle was operated on the highway.
In addition, case law analyzing section 4 has not provided the clarity needed to apprise the motoring public of what is required in order to comply with the statute. In , the Idaho Court of Appeals determined that when a temporary permit was displayed in accordance with section 4 , it was presumed valid, and the mere existence of such a permit may not "serve as the basis for reasonable suspicion" to effectuate a traffic stop.
Salois , Idaho , , P. As a corollary, the Court of Appeals noted that reasonable suspicion may arise, and the presumption of validity overcome, when "the invalidity of the permit, such as by improper alteration, is obvious and discernable by the officer prior to stopping the vehicle.
Salois thus left the ordinary person with the same understanding that would be garnered through a reading of the statute: so long as a valid permit is posted in a vehicle where "readily legible" at the time of posting and remains posted in that location while the vehicle travels on a highway, compliance with the statute has been achieved. Indeed, in Salois , the Court of Appeals held a permit properly posted enjoys a presumption of validity, given no obvious and discernable errors. That does little to improve the respect for either his court or the law.
Comment by Bill — April 24, pm. Bill, I was under the impression that if a law is broken — and I mean the law itself, not breaking the law — then the courts resolve it.
So in a case like this, if a judge is confronted with a situation where the law is vague or just ugly, what can be done by either party for relief? My thought is that if Mitchell had simply dismissed it, then the Bigger Bully would have prevailed. Comment by Dan — April 24, pm. If I recall correctly, the County patched up this gaping hole in the ordinance late last year. Too late for this case, though. An ugly law just sits there and nobody gets relief. Just because something has been passed into law does not mean a court would necessarily have jurisdiction over every aspect of the law.
The prayer for relief would have been recited in the original complaint filed by the plaintiff. That just costs everyone money, wastes time, and gets us all frustrated. The dangerous middle ground is that a Judge who is politically motivated can often find politically self-serving reasons for dismissing an action.
Then it becomes a coin flip whether the Idaho Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court will right the wrong that judge has done.