Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fielding v. State case brief

Fielding v. State case brief summary
842 P.2d 614 (Alaska App. 1992)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant sought review of a judgment of the District Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, which convicted him upon a jury verdict for driving while license suspended in violation of AS § 28.15.291(a)(1) (Alaska). On appeal, he contended that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that a road was a highway as that term was used in the statute.

CASE FACTS
At trial, the primary fact in contention was whether defendant drove on a highway or a vehicular way. The defense claimed that he drove within a parking lot, while the State alleged that he drove from the parking lot onto the road. Over objection, the trial court ruled that he would take judicial notice of the fact that the road was a highway as that term was used in § 28.15.291(a)(1).

DISCUSSION

  • Reversing, the court held that in order to convict defendant, the jury was required to find that he drove on a highway or vehicular way or area. 
  • The manner in which the trial court took judicial notice of the road's status as a highway affected defendant's substantial right to have the jury decide every element of the crime. 
  • The court agreed with defendant's contention that the trial court's instruction amounted to a directed verdict for the prosecution on one of the essential elements of the charge. 
  • The error in the case was that the wrong entity judged defendant guilty.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed the conviction.

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