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Custom State v. Reichenberg, State v. Guzman Essay

The cases of State v. Reichenberg (1996) and State v. Guzman (1992) are analyzed in the paper. Both cases deal with the individual constitutional liberties, one concerning search and seizure, and the other – the double jeopardy. While analyzing both cases, the paper studies the background information, ground for an appeal, the decisions made by the Court, and the reasoning behind these decisions, as well.

Before starting with the analysis of these cases, there is a need to study the background information in order to understand the circumstances of an offence. In the first case State v. Reichenberg, Brenda Lynn Reichenberg was arrested on 20December 1994 for driving a car in a state of alcoholic intoxication, her blood alcohol concentration was higher than the permitted one.. Consequently, her driving license was suspended for 90 days, with the first 30 days of an absolute suspension. Reichenberg contested the suspension in the court. According to the procedure requirements, the request should be handed in written form and received by the Department within 7 days. The Department denied the request as it was not given within the terms stated by the law. After the hearing, having not given an appeal, Reichenberg was required to pay $130.00 to the Department for reinstatement of her driver's license. On the ground of double accusation and double punishment (both license suspension and a fine), Reichenberg appealed for withdrawal of the criminal charge. Her notice of opposition was rejected, and the district court affirmed the magistrate's decision, which was later a subject of Reichenberg’s appeal.

Issues on appeal were a) whether a 90 day driver's license suspension is "punishment" for purposes of the former, b) whether the statute in the case puts a person in "jeopardy" for purposes of the double jeopardy case of the U.S. and Idaho Constitutions, and c) whether the Idaho Constitution provides better protection than the United States Constitution in case of double jeopardy.

In the case of State v. Guzman (1992), Luis Guzman was charged for trafficking amphetamine or methamphetamines (2 counts) and failure to affix the tax stamp for illegal drugs (another 2 counts). A witness was a person who had bought drugs from Guzman twice. However, the witness refused to talk to the attorney of defense. A refusal for an interview was considered by Guzman as caused by the prosecutor’s advice. The district court, however, disagreed with the motion. Eventually, all four charges were taken for Guzman’s conviction: 12 years imprisonment for trafficking convictions (minimum term – 6 years); failure to affix an illegal drug tax stamp – 2 years (minimum term – 1 year). The total term of conviction was 28 years (minimum term – 14 years). Guzman appealed based on the fact that the court denied his motion to exclude witness's testimony and claiming that the court decision was excessive.

In the Reichenberg’s case, the accused claimed that because the penalty (90 day suspension with the first thirty 30 days of absolute suspicion, as well as a payment of the reinstatement fee in order to retrieve her driver's license pursuant) was a punishment, she could not be prosecuted for the DUI charge. Otherwise, this would be a double punishment in violation of the double jeopardy clause. However, the judges disagreed with this claim. The Court explained that its decision was based on the fact that the defendant had been convicted of both delivery of controlled substances and delivery of those substances in the presence of a minor in violation. Moreover, Reichenberg argued that if the license suspension statute served any retributive or deterrent purpose, it should be regarded as a "punishment" for double jeopardy clause. The Court disagreed based on the practice and said that the United States Supreme Court did not intend such an emphatic rule.

The purpose of the administrative license suspension statute is remedial; for example, the stated purpose is to provide safety to all persons using the state's highways by suspending the driver's licenses from those, who drive under the influence of alcohol. Furthermore, if the sanction serves some deterrent purpose, this is not dispositive as to whether it is punishment for purposes of double jeopardy.

In the second case, according to Guzman, his rights for the just process and fair trial were violated because of prosecutor's interference. As a result, Guzman was unable to prepare his defense in a proper way. Witness is a neutral party and his interviews are to be in free access for both the prosecution and defense. If there is no compelling justification, prosecutor cannot be an obstacle to interview the witness by the defense. This right is called “elemental fairness.” However, witness can refuse to speak with defense, and he/she is to be informed about such option by the prosecutor. In this case, witness was only informed that it is his personal choice whether he wished to speak with the defense attorney or not. There was no evidence that the prosecutor intended to discourage the witness from interviewing with the Guzman's attorney. That is why the court decided that Guzman's right to speak with the witness was not violated; as a result, the court denied Guzman's motion. Guzman considered that his sentence (unified term of 28 years, with a minimum term of 14 years) is quite excessive. The obligation of the Court was to find out whether the sentencing decision of the court was a violation of Guzman’s rights or not. In the case of Guzman, two counts laid the foundation of conviction: trafficking of methamphetamine or amphetamine (minimum term of imprisonment – 3 years, and a maximum term – life imprisonment), and failure to affix an illegal drug tax stamp (maximum penalty - imprisonment). Guzman’s criminal history played a negative role; it was taken by the court in a negative way. Moreover, the penalties were potential ones. Having taken all the facts of the case into account, the court made a decision that there were no opportunities to give another and less strict sentence.

The Court in the first case decided, “the license suspension is intended by the legislature to be in addition to prosecution for DUI under, and therefore, does not violate the former.” In addition, “…90 day license suspension does not constitute criminal "punishment," and therefore, does not implicate the double jeopardy provisions of either the United States or Idaho Constitutions.” Moreover, the Court also interpreted “the Idaho Constitution's double jeopardy provision in the same manner that we have interpreted the double jeopardy provision of the United States Constitution.”

One of the most important opinions, which should be mentioned, is Justice Johnson’s assertion. He noticed, “I respectfully dissent. In my view, it is erroneous for the Court to conclude that the double jeopardy provisions of article 1, section 13 of the Idaho Constitution does not afford Reichenberg any greater protection that does the Fifth Amendment as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. We should not accept the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of what is the punishment. The license suspension clearly contains a punitive element. The fact that it may also have a remedial objective does not mean it is not punishment. Having punished Reichenberg once for his offense, the Idaho Constitution prohibits the state from doing so again.”

Based on the claims and facts of the analysis and other evidences, the Court made the following conclusion in the second case: the final decision of the Court affirmed the sentence, “The district court did not err in denying Guzman's motion to exclude witness's testimony, nor did the court abuse its discretion in sentencing.”

Both cases seem to be different; nevertheless, based on the analysis, some similarities can be seen. In both cases, the deterioration of the situation and enhance of the final decisions were caused by the defendant's own actions and misconduct. Moreover, both plaintiffs claimed on the failure, inadequate performance, and illegal actions by the governmental institutions. In both cases, the Court (Idaho) disagreed and was able to prove that the actions were reasonable and had a legal basis for their realization.

Code: Sample20

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