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The Pattern of Unlawful Activity Act, Utah Code 76-10-1601 to 1609, does not prevent the State from using evidence of acts on which the statute of limitations has expired to prove a pattern of unlawful activity. Defendant was charged with, inter alia, one count of participating in a pattern of unlawful activity. The State further alleged that Defendant had committed securities fraud and that some of those crimes were part of his pattern of unlawful activity. Defendant moved to exclude a number of the alleged acts on the basis that the statute of limitations had run. The district court granted the motion, agreeing with Defendant’s argument that a pattern of unlawful activity cannot be based on crimes that the State could not separately charge because they were time-barred. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the best reading of the Act permits the State to base a pattern of unlawful activity on crimes on which the statute of limitations has expired. View "State v. Stewart" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court held that a party alleging error by a land use authority is no longer required to establish that the “decision would have been different” but for the error under the standard set forth in Springville Citizens for a Better Community v. City of Springville, 979 P.2d 332 (Utah 1999). Instead, a party can establish prejudice by showing a reasonable likelihood that the error changed the land use authority’s decision. Appellants brought this lawsuit challenging the South Salt Lake City Council’s decision to close a portion of Truman and Burton Avenues. The City Council voted to vacate both streets in response to a petition by a car dealership. The district court granted summary judgment for the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the revised and clarified standard set forth in this opinion, Appellants failed to identify any prejudice resulting from any alleged deficiency in the petition. In addition, the petition to vacate was valid under Utah Code 10-2a-609.5, and notice of the City Council meetings was sufficient under Utah Code 10-9a-208. View "Potter v. South Salt Lake City" on Justia Law

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A party may implicitly waive an antiwaiver clause in a contract through conduct, but there must be clear intent to waive both the underlying contract provision and the antiwaiver clause. Defendant hired Plaintiff to provide snow removal services. The parties’ contract required Plaintiff to maintain a certain amount of insurance coverage. The contract included an antiwaiver clause stating that Defendant’s failure to notice a deficiency in Plaintiff’s insurance coverage could not be construed as a waiver of the insurance provision. When Defendant discovered that Plaintiff had failed to purchase the required insurance, Defendant terminated the contract. Plaintiff brought this action asserting that Defendant had waived its right to terminate the contract because Defendant effectively waived the insurance requirement by making payments to Plaintiff despite its noncompliance. The jury found Defendant liable for breach of contract. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff produced no evidence of waiver beyond Defendant’s failure to insist on performance of the insurance requirements; and (2) Defendant was within its rights to terminate the contract. View "Mounteer Enterprises, Inc. v. Homeowners Association for Colony at White Pine Canyon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Oil, Gas, and Mining to impose a joint operating agreement (JOA) on J.P. Furlong Company’s relationship with the party operating a drilling unit that included Furlong’s mineral lease. Furlong complained that the Board accepted, without making any of the changes to the JOA that Furlong wanted, the JOA the operator proposed. On appeal, Furlong argued that the Board erroneously applied the law to conclude that the JOA was just and reasonable and that there was not substantial evidence to support the Board’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board correctly applied the law and rendered a decision supported by substantial evidence. View "J.P. Furlong Co. v. Board of Oil & Gas Mining" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of rape of a child, holding that each of Defendant’s claims on appeal failed. Specifically, the Court held (1) this Court declines to consider whether the district court erred in relying upon each of the factors previously articulated in State v. Shickles, 760 P.2d 291 (Utah 1998), to determine the admissibility of Defendant’s previous acts of child molestation because review of this claim was precluded by the invited error doctrine; (2) the district court did not err in admitting evidence of Defendant’s prior acts of child molestation; and (3) Defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel failed because he did not show that any of counsel’s alleged deficiencies constituted deficient performance and resulted in prejudice. View "State v Ring" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s ruling that Plaintiff, a municipal employee, had forfeited her merit protection status through contract, estoppel, and waiver without reaching the merits of Plaintiff’s claims because she failed to carry her burden of challenging all of the district court’s rulings, each of which was an independent basis for summary judgment. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that Supreme Court precedent allowing a contract in conflict with a statute to survive, provided it does not violate public policy, does not extend to contracts involving government employees. The Supreme Court held that, although it was possible that Plaintiff was correct, Plaintiff was not entitled to relief because she failed to challenge the district court’s ruling that she was equitably estopped from claiming merit status. View "Howick v. Salt Lake City Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision to award prejudgment interest to LeGrand and concluded that Celtic Bank was the prevailing party on the prejudgment interest issues. LeGrand Johnson Construction Company filed an action seeking to enforce its mechanic’s lien on property owned by B2AC, LLC for the unpaid value of construction services, and Celtic Bank, B2AC’s lender, sought to foreclose on the same property after B2AC failed to pay on its loan. The action resulted in a lien for $237,294 and an award of attorney fees and costs. Thereafter, the district court determined that LeGrand’s lien, rather than Celtic Bank’s lien, had priority and awarded LeGrand attorney fees and costs. The court then ruled that LeGrand was entitled to recover eighteen percent in prejudgment and postjudgment interest from Celtic Bank based on LeGrand’s contract with B2AC. The Supreme Court (1) reinforced its holding in Jordan Construction, Inc. v. Federal National Mortgage Ass’n, 408 P.3d 296 (Utah 2017), that prejudgment interest is not available under the 2008 version of the Utah Mechanic’s Lien Act; and (2) vacated the attorney fee award because it was based, in part, on the notion that LeGrand had succeeded in establishing its right to prejudgment interest. View "LeGrand Johnson Construction Co. v. Celtic Bank Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court overruled the relevant portions of State v. Finlayson, 994 P.2d 1243 (Utah 2000), and State v. Lee, 128 P.3d 1179 (Utah 2006), that set forth and recapped the common-law merger test and announced that the controlling test is set forth in Utah Code 76-1-402(1). Defendant was convicted of one count of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated kidnapping. On appeal, Defendant argued that the two convictions should have merged pursuant to State v. Finlayson, P.2d 1243 (Utah 2000), and that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by not asking for an order to that effect. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that trial counsel was not ineffective because the convictions did not, in fact, merge. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, in view of the decision announced today, the court of appeals did not err in determining that Defendant’s trial counsel was not ineffective. View "State v. Wilder" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs’ complaint against Weber County claiming that the County had violated Utah Code 59-22-103 and 59-2-103.5, which establish the tax exemption for primary residential property. Plaintiffs paid taxes on their primary residence but later learned that the County had not given them the residential exemption. The district court entered a judgment on the pleadings dismissing Plaintiffs’ causes of action, concluding, inter alia, that the assessor acted within the scope of his authority in reclassifying Plaintiffs’ property as “non-primary residential.” In affirming, the Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs’ challenges to the taxes they paid must fall under Utah Code 59-2-1321, which requires taxpayers to point an “error or illegality that is readily apparent from county records.” Because Plaintiffs did not challenge this requirement or show that the alleged errors or illegalities were readily apparent, the district court did not err in its judgment. View "Hammons v. Weber County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs’ complaint against Weber County claiming that the County had violated Utah Code 59-22-103 and 59-2-103.5, which establish the tax exemption for primary residential property. Plaintiffs paid taxes on their primary residence but later learned that the County had not given them the residential exemption. The district court entered a judgment on the pleadings dismissing Plaintiffs’ causes of action, concluding, inter alia, that the assessor acted within the scope of his authority in reclassifying Plaintiffs’ property as “non-primary residential.” In affirming, the Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs’ challenges to the taxes they paid must fall under Utah Code 59-2-1321, which requires taxpayers to point an “error or illegality that is readily apparent from county records.” Because Plaintiffs did not challenge this requirement or show that the alleged errors or illegalities were readily apparent, the district court did not err in its judgment. View "Hammons v. Weber County" on Justia Law