News & Case Updates

Case Updates

  • Trovon Donta Ross v. State of Utah
    Mr. Ross was convicted of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. His criminal defense trail attorney failed to raise an affirmative defense of extreme emotional distress, which was likely Mr. Ross’s best defense.
  • Terry Johnson v. State of Utah
    The Utah Supreme Court dismissed the petition for post-conviction relief of a man convicted of murder because his claims either should have been raised on direct appeal or were appropriately dismissed by the district court for lack of jurisdiction.
  • State of Utah v. Roberto Joseph Duran Jr.
    The Utah Court of Appeals held that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors in determining a defendant’s sentence.
  • John Quas v. Utah Board of Pardons
    Judicial review of a decision of the Utah Board of Pardons is granted only for an alleged violation of procedural due process, and not to challenge a substantive decision.
  • State of Utah v. Chanzy Walker
    The Salt Lake City district court ruled there was not probable cause to support the warrant under which Ms. Chanzy’s blood was drawn, but did not grant her motion to suppress the evidence, relying on a possible exception to the warrant requirements. The Utah Supreme Court reversed on the alternate grounds that there was probable cause for the warrant.
  • State of Utah v. Jason Lyle Butler
    (Officers’ traffic stop, detention of the defendant, and search of a vehicle was constitutional when the officers observed the defendant commit a minor traffic violation and had reasonable articulable suspicion that the defendant was transporting drugs.)
  • State of Utah v. Lucia Arnold and Vanessa Arnold
    (examines whether ineffective assistance of counsel should have been granted when two shoplifters’ attorney had a legitimate tactical reason for not seeking to reintroduce threat allegations that would have damaged the defendants’ credibility.)
  • State of Utah v. David E. Epling
    (The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to impose consecutive rather than concurrent sentences after the defendant pleaded no contest to three counts of sexual abuse of a child.)
  • State of Utah v. Vance Morris
    (examines how far a search can go when and if a police officer makes a reasonable mistake)
  • State of Utah v. Michael J. Birkeland
    (examines whether a victim of theft can recover a restitution award for repairing his computer after it had been stolen)
  • State of Utah v. Douglas Anderson Lovell
    (examines if a trial court’s failure to strictly comply with Utah Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(e) constitutes good cause to withdraw a guilty plea.)
  • State of Utah v. David S. Nielsen
    (examines if a defendant could withdraw his guilty pleas on the grounds that they were not given voluntarily)
  • State of Utah v. Chance L. Robinson
    (examines whether “knowingly and intentionally” having “any measurable amount of a controlled substance in [one’s] body” is a constitutional violation)
  • State of Utah v. Ryan David Burke
    (examines the joining of multiple criminal charges in the context of escalating pattern of behavior)
  • State of Utah v. Dustin Dewitt
    (examines the timing between sentencing from lower court and filing of an appeal with a higher court)
  • State of Utah v. J. White
    (examines a when it is or is not appropriate to dismiss a case when the defendant’s competency is in question)
  • State of Utah v. Clark
    (examines a victim’s right to appeal a restitution order based on whether or not statutes were in effect at the time of the appeal)
  • State of Utah v. Lenkark
    (examines ineffective counsel and failure to analyze and present physical evidence in a criminal defense trial)
  • State of Utah v. B. White
    (examines whether a jury can consider past experiences and emotions when deciding whether a defendant acted under extreme emotional distress.)
  • State of Utah v. Watkins
    (examines whether or not a lower court made an error by not granting a motion to dismiss)
  • State of Utah v. Hernandez
    (examines whether or not the defendant was entitled to a preliminary hearing)
  • State of Utah v. Schwabland
    (examines the appeal of a denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss)
  • State of Utah v. Kragh
    (examines defendant’s right to withdraw or change a plea based on change in sentencing)

Articles:

Case Updates

Trovon Donta Ross v. State of Utah

2012 UT 93
Filed December 21, 2012

Mr. Ross was convicted of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. His criminal defense trail attorney failed to raise an affirmative defense of extreme emotional distress, which was likely Mr. Ross’s best defense.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Howard Price Johnson

2012 UT 68
Filed October 5, 2012

The Utah Supreme Court held that an amendment to a Utah statute could not be applied retroactively to allow the State of Utah to oppose Mr. Johnson’s motion to reduce the degree of his unlawful sexual activity with a minor and enticing a minor convictions.
(click here to read entire case summary)

Douglas Stewart Carter v. State of Utah

2012 UT 69
Filed October 5, 2012

A man convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death was not eligible for post-conviction relief because he did not show that the outcome of his case was prejudiced by ineffective assistance of his criminal defense attorney.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Larry Lewis Hutchings

2012 UT 50
Filed August 10, 2012

In order to be convicted of aggravated assault, a defendant must intend to commit serious bodily injury; it is not sufficient to merely intend to commit the act which results in the serious bodily injury. Further, while failing to object to a confusing jury instruction may be deficient performance on the part of a criminal defense lawyer, it is not ineffective assistance of counsel unless the error prejudices the outcome of the case.
(click here to read entire case summary)

Terry Johnson v. State of Utah

2011 UT 59
Filed September 30, 2011

The Utah Supreme Court dismissed the petition for post-conviction relief of a man convicted of murder because his claims either should have been raised on direct appeal or were appropriately dismissed by the district court for lack of jurisdiction.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Roberto Joseph Duran Jr.

2011 UT App 319
Filed September 15, 2011
MEMORNDUM DECISION

The Utah Court of Appeals held that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors in determining a defendant’s sentence.
(click here to read entire case summary)

John Quas v. Utah Board of Pardons

2011 UT App 301
Filed September 1, 2011
PER CURIAM DECISION

Judicial review of a decision of the Utah Board of Pardons is granted only for an alleged violation of procedural due process, and not to challenge a substantive decision.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Chanzy Walker

2011 UT 53
Filed August 30, 2011

The Salt Lake City district court ruled there was not probable cause to support the warrant under which Ms. Chanzy’s blood was drawn, but did not grant her motion to suppress the evidence, relying on a possible exception to the warrant requirements. The Utah Supreme Court reversed on the alternate grounds that there was probable cause for the warrant.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Jason Lyle Butler

2011 UT App 281
Filed August 25, 2011
Memorandum Decision

Officers’ traffic stop, detention of the defendant, and search of a vehicle was constitutional when the officers observed the defendant commit a minor traffic violation and had reasonable articulable suspicion that the defendant was transporting drugs.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Lucia Arnold and Vanessa Arnold

2011 UT App 255
Filed August 4, 2011
Memorandum Decision

The Utah Court of Appeals held there was no ineffective assistance of counsel when
two shoplifters’ criminal defense attorney had a legitimate tactical reason for not seeking to reintroduce threat allegations that would have damaged the defendants’ credibility.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. David E. Epling

2011 UT App 229
Filed July 21, 2011

The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision to impose consecutive rather than concurrent sentences after the defendant pleaded no contest to three counts of sexual abuse of a child.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Vance Morris

2011 UT 40
Filed July 22, 2011

The Utah Supreme Court held that if a police officer makes a reasonable mistake about the grounds when initiating a traffic stop, the officer may make contact with the driver to explain the mistake and end the stop. If during this brief encounter with the driver new reasonable suspicion of criminal activity immediately arises, the officer may continue the stop.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Michael J. Birkeland

2011 UT App 227
Filed July 14, 2011

The Utah Court of Appeals upheld a restitution award for the time an art professor spent restoring and reorganizing his computer files after his laptop was stolen.
Mr. Birkeland pled no contest to the theft of a laptop computer belonging to Utah Valley University art professor Perry Stewart. When authorities recovered the laptop two days after the theft, almost all of its files had been deleted.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Douglas Anderson Lovell

2011 UT 36
Filed July 12, 2011

In his third direct appeal from his conviction for the aggravated murder of Joyce Yost, the defendant appealed the district court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The Utah Supreme Court reversed, holding that a trial court’s failure to strictly comply with Utah Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(e) constitutes good cause to withdraw a guilty plea.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. David S. Nielsen

2011 UT App 211
Filed June 30, 2011
Per Curiam Decision

The Utah Court of Appeals held that the defendant could not withdraw his guilty pleas on the grounds that they were not given voluntarily because factual findings indicated that he did give them voluntarily and because he did not provide an adequate record for the appellate court to review.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Chance L. Robinson

2011 UT 30
Filed June 10, 2011

The Utah Supreme Court held that a Utah statute which criminalizes the act of “knowingly and intentionally” having “any measurable amount of a controlled substance in [one’s] body” does not violate either the Utah or United States Constitution.The Utah Supreme Court held that a Utah statute which criminalizes the act of “knowingly and intentionally” having “any measurable amount of a controlled substance in [one’s] body” does not violate either the Utah or United States Constitution.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Ryan David Burke

2011 UT App 168
Filed May 26, 2011

The Utah Court of Appeals held that a defendant’s charges of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and forcible sexual abuse were properly joined because the crimes were connected in their commission in that they showed an escalating pattern of behavior.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Dustin Dewitt

2011 UT App 177
Filed June 3, 2011

Utah Court of Appeals rules that a defendant must be sentenced before being allowed to file an appeal from final judgment.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. James Benjamin White

2011 UT App 155
Filed May 12, 2011

In 2001, James White was charged with criminal nonsupport for failure to pay child support from 1994 through 2000. Mr. White’s case was delayed for several years because of his conflicts with his court appointed attorneys, his filing of hundreds of pages of motions, and his incarceration in Colorado on a different charge.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Zachariah E. Clark

2011 UT 23
Filed April 29, 2011

The Utah Supreme Court held that the victims in a criminal case had no standing to appeal a restitution order because at the time they filed their appeal there was not statute in place that gave them the right to appeal.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Jeffery Anton Lenkart

2011 UT 24
Filed May 6, 2011

The Utah Supreme Court held that it was ineffective assistance of counsel for Mr. Lenkart’s attorney to fail to analyze and present the physical evidence in a rape kit when that evidence could have changed the outcome of the trial.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Brenda Christine White

2011UT 21
Filed April 19, 2011

The Utah Supreme Court found that A jury can consider past experiences and emotions when deciding whether a defendant acted under extreme emotional distress.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Anthony Watkins

2001 UT App 96
Filed March 24, 2011

Watkins temporarily moved in with his niece, her husband, and their children. The husband’s daughter from a previous relationship (Child) regularly stayed at the house as well. Child testified that one night she woke to find Watkins in bed with her wetly kissing the side of her head and pinching and rubbing her buttocks. She also said that he spanked her. Watkins left after child had asked him twice to stop, but returned and gave her a $100 bill and told her not to tell anyone about the money. Child told her parents about the incident and Watkins was arrested….
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Victor Hernandez

2011 UT 16
Filed March 29, 2011

Hernandez was charged by information with four Class A misdemeanors. Hernandez filed a request for a preliminary hearing. The district court denied his request. The Utah Supreme Court reversed and held that a defendant charged with a Class A misdemeanor is entitled to a preliminary hearing.
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Schwabland

Memorandum Decision
2011 UT App 95
Filed March 24, 2011

At the close of the State’s case in chief at his trial for aggravated burglary, Schwabland made a motion to dismiss. The motion was denied and Schwabland was convicted. He appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss to the Utah Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court for the following reasons….
(click here to read entire case summary)

State of Utah v. Kragh

Memorandum Decision
2011 UT App 108
Filed April 7, 2011

Kragh was charged with eight counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult. He agreed to plead guilty to four counts and to pay restitution in exchange to the State’s dismissal of the other four charges and recommendation that he not serve any prison time. The prosecutor…..
(click here to read entire case summary)

Articles

What Causes People to Give False Confessions?

In a legal system that is supposed to be fair and protect the freedom of the innocent, why are people still getting convicted of crimes they didn’t commit? This article from the Chicago Tribune talks about how police will often pressure suspects until they confess, even when the evidence shows that they are innocent. In most cases, police avoid going too far, but what about the cases where the police don’t care about the truth because they are “just doing their job?” Unfortunately, it happens more often than it should.

Click here to read the full article

The Over-Criminalization of America

Many criminal laws are important and helpful to society, but as Congress continues to add more and more criminal laws to the books, more people are committing crimes without even knowing it. This video from the Heritage Foundation shows one of the reasons we need criminal defense attorneys to fight against the over-criminalization of America.

Click here to see the video