Every now and then, the Idaho Supreme Court will address issues that, although not addressed by the trial court, may arise on remand. The Court has that authority under Idaho Code § 1-205, which states: “[I]f a new trial be granted, the court shall pass upon and determine all the questions of law involved in the case presented upon … appeal, and necessary to the final determination of the case.” The Court’s decision in Doe v. State of Idaho, 2015 Opinion No. 62 (June 30, 2015), is a good illustration of the effect of that statute.
In Doe, Doe petitioned for a declaratory judgment on whether he was required to register with the Idaho Sex Offender Registry because of a prior Washington offense. Idaho law requires a person to register with the state’s sexual offender registry when convicted in another state for an offense “substantially equivalent” to an offense identified in the Idaho Sexual Offender Registration Notification Act.
The district court dismissed Doe’s petition for lack of standing and failure to exhaust agency remedies. As a result, the district court never reached the issue of whether Doe’s Washington offense was substantially equivalent to an Idaho offense. After reversing the district court’s dismissal of the petition, the Court addressed the issue nevertheless, citing its authority under Idaho Code § 1-205. The Court ultimately found the Washington statute and the Idaho statute were substantively equivalent.
The Court does not often invoke its authority under Section 1-205. Based on the plain language of the statute, the Court can provide guidance to the trial court when it remands a case for a new trial, see State v. Joy, 155 Idaho 1, 11, 304 P.3d 276, 287 (2013), or upholds the trial court’s grant of a new trial, Davis v. Sun Valley Ski Educ. Found., Inc., 130 Idaho 400, 406, 941 P.2d 1301, 1307 (1997). But the Court has also cited Section 1-205 to provide guidance on remand even when finding errors that do not require a new trial. See, e.g., Dabestani v. Bellus, 131 Idaho 542, 549, 961 P.2d 633, 640 (1998).