Federated Capital Corporation v Haner

Haner appealed the denial of her motion for attorney fees under Utah Code 78B-5-826. The panel reversed and remanded. It held that under 826 when a contract has a fee provision for one party, ordinarily the other party has a right to fees unless there are compelling reasons not to award fees. Here, there were no compelling reasons as Haner won on summary judgment based on the statute of limitations and Federated’s claim she owned them money is not compelling and in any event victory based on limitations are to be treated like victories on the merits. Haner was also awarded fees for her successful appeal.

State v Alzaga

Alzaga appealed his murder and other convictions raising several issues. The panel rejected his arguments and affirmed. It held under plain error review that testimony that the victim smoked marijuana was not character evidence and in any event there was direct evidence victim sold drugs and thus there was no error. It held the restrictions on cross examining a witness about his drug convictions were proper as the witness did not deny or minimize his drug convictions. It held the admission of recording where Alzaga did not deny killing the victim was properly admitted as the inference of guilt was relevant and the use of foul language did not create a risk of unfair prejudice. The panel affirmed the admission of photos taken in winter as the photos made witness testimony that they could see certain events more likely and the photos allowed the jury to determine if foliage would have blocked the view as Alzaga argued. The panel rejected Alzaga’s claims about the self-defense instructions as any error in including a noncharged, nonviolent felony in them was harmless as he was convicted of aggravated robbery, a violent felony, and the instructions as a whole informed the jury that the state bore the burden of disproving self-defense. The panel rejected an ineffective assistance claim as Alzaga admitted being at the scene and a defense of misidentification was inconsistent with a self-defense claim. Finally, the panel held Alzaga’s motion for new trial was properly rejected as Alzaga knew about eh text messages he wanted to admit for two years before trial, the message were cumulative to his own testimony that he dealt heroin and as the messages were irrelevant to any of the charges they would not have had any effect on the outcome of the trial.

State v McDaniel

McDaniel appealed the consecutive designation of his sentence in the second of two drug dealing cases. The panel affirmed holding the district court properly considered the evidence that McDaniel placed in the record and that a reasonable person could have made the consecutive designation on the facts in the record.

Monson v Salt Lake City

Monson appealed the denial of his petition for postconviciton relief. The panel affirmed. It held that Monson’s guilty pela waived constitutional claims except for whether the plea was voluntary, that the evidence against the state trooper who arrested Monson was only impeaching as it did not go to whether Monson drove under the influence and thus relief was properly denied under Utah Supreme Court precedent holding impeachment evidence insufficient to find a lack of intelligent and voluntary guilty plea.

State v Wadsworth

Wadsworth appealed the restitution award of lost wages to the victim of his sexual abuse. The panel affirmed. It held that the wage loss was not attenuated by the six year gap between crime and loss as Wadsworth caused the delay through absconding form justice for 4 years and the district court properly relied on victim’ testimony that Wadsworth’s reappearance caused depression, sleep loss and other difficulties which made it impossible for her to work full time. The panel also held that lost wages are awardable under the plain language of the restitution statute as they are pecuniary and not otherwise excluded.

Anderson v Larry H. Miller Communications Corporation

Anderson appealed judgment in favor of communications in his fraud and promissory estoppel claims. The panela affirmed. It held that Anderson’s due process rights were not violated by the district court’s sharp admonitions to his attorney as he was able to present his evidence, have it considered by a neutral factfinder and no witnesses were intimidated. The panel rejected Anderson’s claims that evidence was improperly excluded as he failed to explain how any alleged errors prejudiced him particularly as he was allowed to get almost all the desired evidence in through more targeted questioning. The panel held that the district court did not error in denying Anderson’s motion for a jury trial on the estoppel claim as such claims are generally equitable and the district court submitted a common issue for fact between the fraud and estoppel claim to the jury. The panel held that whether the damages instruction in the fraud claim was correct is irrelevant as the jury found no fraud. The panel finally affirmed the denial of Anderson’s motion to add and intentional interference claim as Anderson provide no record on appeal on the issue and the decision was consistent with a reasoned application of the relevant factors.

Pepperwood Homeowners Association v Mitchell

Mitchell appealed the grant for summary judgment to Association. The panela reversed holding Association failed to prove its claim that Mitchell owed assessments under a declaration of covenants as it failed to submit the declaration or any other document proving a right to assess fees. The panel denied Mitchell’s claim for attorney fees as there was no basis in the record to award fees and this is not a case where the private attorney general doctrine applies.

Bryner v Canyons School District

Bryner sought a copy of security camera footage showing the altercation involving his son. District denied his request on the ground the footage was an educational record and could not be disclosed under federal law. Breyer sued for access. The district court ruled the footage was an educational record, but, ordered release of the footage after all faces were blurred and the expenses paid by Bryner. The panel affirmed. It held the footage was an educational record under federal law as the law in question, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, does not limit its coverage to academic records; recordings of fights are covered by the statue as the images identify the students involved and thus the footage here could not be disclosed to Bryner. The panela ls held that Breyer could receive the redacted footage under federal law and under Utah’s freedom of information act, Utah Code 63G-2-201, when redacting is required, the requester must pay the costs associated with creating the redacted