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State v. Gill

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

June 23, 2016

STATE OF ARIZONA, Appellee,
v.
DUSTIN GILL, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CR2013-449134-001 The Honorable Teresa A. Sanders, Judge

          Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Joseph T. Maziarz and Christian Lueders, Rule 38(d) certified student Counsel for Appellee

          Maricopa County Legal Defender's Office, Phoenix By Cynthia Dawn Beck Counsel for Appellant

          Presiding Judge Samuel A. Thumma delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Judge Maurice Portley and Judge John C. Gemmill joined.

          OPINION

          THUMMA, Judge

         ¶1 Dustin Gill appeals his conviction for possession or use of marijuana, a Class 1 misdemeanor, arguing the superior court erred by admitting Gill's statements to a representative of the Treatment Assessment Screening Center (TASC) program during a deferred prosecution. Because Gill has shown no error, his conviction is affirmed.

         FACTS[1] AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2 In 2013, a security guard found Gill in a restroom holding several grams of marijuana. The State charged Gill with one count of possession or use of marijuana, a Class 6 felony. After the State reduced the charge to a misdemeanor, and Gill rejected plea offers, the parties agreed that the prosecution would be deferred while Gill participated in a TASC program. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. (A.R.S.) § 11-361 (2016). [2]

         ¶3 When entering the TASC program, a TASC representative interviewed Gill and Gill filled out a "statement of facts" form. On that form, which Gill and his attorney signed, Gill indicated he understood his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and avowed that "I fully understand that what I have written here may be used against me in a court of law should I fail to satisfactorily complete the TASC program." When asked about "the facts of the offense, " Gill wrote on the form: "The marijuana was found in the bathroom on the ground in my possession."

         ¶4 Although Gill participated in the TASC program for a period of time, he failed to complete the requirements and the State resumed prosecution. After Gill then rejected another plea offer, he moved to suppress the "statement of facts" form and any testimony from TASC representatives regarding his admissions, claiming (as relevant here) they were inadmissible because they were made in the course of plea discussions.[3] After full briefing, the superior court denied Gill's motion. After a bench trial, the court found Gill guilty, suspended his sentence and placed him on one year of unsupervised probation. Gill timely appealed his conviction. This court has jurisdiction pursuant to the Arizona Constitution, Article 6, Section 9, and A.R.S. §§ 12-120.21(A)(1), 13-4031, and -4033(A).

         DISCUSSION

         ¶5 Gill argues information he provided to TASC was not admissible at trial because they constitute "a statement made during plea discussions with an attorney for the prosecuting authority if the discussions did not result in a guilty plea or they resulted in a later-withdrawn guilty plea." Ariz. R. Evid. 410(a)(4); see also Ariz. R. Crim. P. 17.4(f) (noting admissibility "of a plea, a plea discussion, and any related statement is governed by" Ariz. R. Evid. 410). This court reviews the superior court's ruling on such an issue for an abuse of discretion. Lohmeier v. Hammer, 214 Ariz. 57, 60 ¶ 6 (App. 2006).

         ¶6 Gill's argument fails for three reasons.

         ¶7 First, Gill did not provide information to TASC "during plea discussions." Ariz. R. Evid. 410(a)(4). Although Ariz. R. Crim. P. 17.4 governs plea negotiations and agreements and refers to Ariz. R. Evid. 410, see Ariz. R. Crim. P. 17.4(f), the TASC program is part of a deferred prosecution governed by Ariz. R. Crim. P. 38, which does not reference Ariz. R. Evid. 410. Participating in a deferred prosecution program such as TASC, then, is not a plea negotiation or agreement subject to Ariz. R. Crim. P. 17.4 or Ariz. R. Evid. 410. In fact, Gill agreed to participate in the TASC program, and provided the statements challenged here, after he rejected a plea offer. Given that Gill ...


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