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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction under Utah’s witness retaliation statute, Utah Code 76-8-508.3, holding that the statute does not criminalize threats a person makes regarding a witness outside the witness’s presence and without an intention to have the threat communicated to the witness. Section 76-8-508.3 makes it a crime to direct a threat of harm or a harmful action against a witness or a person closely associated with that witness as retaliation against that witness. After Defendant was convicted, he challenged his conviction on the ground that the witnesses that were the subject of the alleged threat were not present when Defendant made the threat. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the witness retaliation statute criminalizes only those threats that the threat-maker intended to be communicated to the witness; and (2) therefore, the court of appeals incorrectly interpreted the requirements of the statute. View "State v. Trujillo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of one count of stalking and one count of threat of violence, holding that neither issue raised by Defendant on appeal was preserved nor amounted to plain error. On September 12, 2014, Salt Lake City filed an information in justice court charging Defendant with threat of violence based on an incident that occurred on September 7, 2014. While that case was pending, the City charged Defendant in the district court with stalking and threat of violence. The threat of violence charge was based on an alleged threat that occurred on September 30, 2014. The stalking charge was based on alleged conduct occurring throughout September 2014. Defendant was convicted on both counts. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court prosecution was barred by the earlier justice court prosecution or, alternatively, that the district court plainly erred in failing to merge the convictions at sentencing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) neither of Defendant’s arguments was adequately preserved in the proceedings below; and (2) because of the unsettled nature of this area of law, any error was not plain error. View "Salt Lake City v. Josephson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for offering escort services without a valid license, holding that Defendant’s constitutional claims were either inadequately briefed or not properly raised in the district court. Defendant had an escort services license from Midvale City when she met an undercover Salt Lake City police officer in Salt Lake and asked him for a “show-up” fee, but Defendant did not have a license from Salt Lake City at the time. Because State law authorizes any municipality to impose licensing requirements on employees of sexually oriented businesses, the resulting regulatory scheme requires escorts to obtain licenses in each jurisdiction in which they seek to operate. On appeal from her conviction, Defendant argued that the imposition of multiple licensing requirements violates her First Amendment and Equal Protection rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant did not preserve her Equal Protection claim in the district court; and (2) Appellant did not adequately brief her First Amendment challenge on appeal. View "Salt Lake City v. Kidd" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision denying Appellant’s amended petition under the Post-Conviction Remedies Act (PCRA) seeking relief from his convictions, holding that the district court erred in concluding that the claim in Appellant’s amended petition did not satisfy Utah R. Civ. P. 15(c) and so was time barred under the PCRA. Before the district court ruled on the merits of Appellant’s original petition, the district court appointed pro bono counsel, but only after the one-year statute of limitations period on Appellants’ PCRA petitions had expired. Pro bono counsel then amended Appellant’s petition, with permission from the court, by removing all previous claims from the original petition and replacing them with an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The district court dismissed the amended petition on the grounds that it was time-barred under the PCRA. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the district court (1) did not err in concluding that rule 15(c) applies to proposed amendments made to PCRA petitions; but (2) erred in concluding that Appellant’s amended petition did not satisfy rule 15(c). View "Noor v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the district court’s certification of its summary judgment ruling as final under Utah R. Civ. P. 54(b) was improper, and therefore, the Court did not have a final judgment before it to review. This appeal arose from a contest over the state water engineer’s resolution of who owned the water rights to a certain tributary of the Green River. The district court upheld the state engineer’s proposed determination that The Minnie Maud Reservoir and Irrigation Company was the owner of the disputed water rights. EnerVest, Ltd. appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) the district court’s Rule 54(b) certification was insufficient to confer appellate jurisdiction upon the Court because the requirements for certification were not met; and (2) EnerVest lacked appellate standing because it was not an aggrieved party, and therefore, this Court declined to exercise its jurisdiction to treat the appeal as a petition for interlocutory appeal. View "EnerVest v. Utah State Engineer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals vacating the juvenile judge’s bindover order in this case involving a juvenile’s criminal conduct, holding that it was error to excuse Defendant from preserving his claim of judicial bias. The State charged Defendant with three first-degree felonies in juvenile court. The juvenile judge bound over Defendant, who was sixteen years old when he committed the offenses, to the district court to be tried as an adult. Defendant then pled guilty to lesser charges. While serving his prison sentence, Defendant moved to reinstate the time to appeal his bindover order, which the district court granted. Defendant then argued on appeal that the juvenile judge should have recused herself from his case due to judicial bias. The court of appeals agreed and vacated the bindover order without requiring Defendant to show either that he had preserved his judicial bias claim in the trial court or that an exception to preservation applied. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant’s judicial bias claim was not exempt from the preservation requirement. View "State v. Van Huizen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court ruling in favor of Salt Lake City Corporation (City) in this dispute over whether the City’s denial of Jordan River Restoration Network’s (JRRN) fee waiver request with regard to the City’s grant of JRRN’s request for documents, holding that any error was harmless. JRRN and its founder (collectively, JRRN) filed a request with the City seeking every document related to the construction of a sports complex and asked the City to provide the documents without charge. The City granted the document request but denied the fee waiver request. The City Records Appeals Board ordered the City to provide the requested documents at no charge.The State Records Committee also ruled in JRRN’s favor. On judicial review, the district court upheld the City’s decision to deny the fee waiver, concluding that the fee waiver denial was reasonable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court conducted the review contemplated by the Government Records Access and Management Act; and (2) while the court made some procedural errors, each error was harmless. View "Salt Lake City Corp. v. Jordan River Restoration Network" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of rape and forcible sexual assault of his wife, holding that a single error occurred below, and the error was not prejudicial. Specifically, the Court held (1) Defendant failed to preserve for appeal his argument that the trial judge violated his constitutional rights by making comments to the jury pool about the O.J. Simpson case; (2) the trial court did not err in concluding that alleged sexual partner evidence created a danger of unfair prejudice that substantially outweighed the evidence’s probative value; (3) the trial court did not err in admitting evidence of Defendant’s prior bad acts or limiting defense counsel’s cross-examination of the victim on that point; and (4) Defendant was not prejudiced by his trial counsel’s failure to object to the trial judge’s comments to the jury. View "State v. Beverly" on Justia Law

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In this case involving two resolutions that would enable Ivory Development, LLC to develop land on which the old Cottonwood Mall once stood the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court that Resolution 2018-16 was referable and Resolution 2018-17 was not referable, holding that the district court did not err in finding that the City of Holladay was exercising its legislative powers when it approved Resolution 2018-16 and was exercising its administrative powers when it approved Resolution 2018-17. In May 2018, the City approved the two resolutions at issue. Thereafter, a group of citizens from Holladay petitioned to subject the Resolutions to a public vote by referendum. The district court ordered that the City place only the referendum petition on Resolution 2018-16 on the ballot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Resolution 2018-16 is legislative in nature and therefore referable; and (2) Resolution 2018-17 is administrative in nature and therefore not referable. View "Baker v. Carlson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court finding that the language of Utah Code 59-7-113 was ambiguous and that section 113 did not permit the income allocation that the Utah State Tax Commission had imposed upon See’s Candies, holding that the district court properly employed the arm’s length transaction standard to determine that the Commission improperly allocated See’s income. The Commission in this case allocated certain royalty payments See’s had deducted from its taxable income back to See’s as taxable income. The district court decided that the allocation was inappropriate and allowed See’s to take the deductions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the language of section 113 is ambiguous; (2) the district court properly looked to the statute’s federal counterpart and its accompanying regulations for guidance; and (3) the district court correctly determined that the Commission improperly allocated See’s income. View "Utah State Tax Commission v. See’s Candies, Inc." on Justia Law