State v Morris

Morris appealed eth denial of his motion to quash a subpoena and the order holding him in contempt for refusing to testify. The panel affirmed. It held that Morris failed to preserve his argument that the district court was required to consider the threat of gang violence absent Morris if he testified as he did not present any factual support or citation to authority either at the district court level or on appeal. It held there was no 5th Amendment privilege here as Utah Supreme Court precedent bars the use of testimony by state or federal authorities once use immunity is granted and the prosecutors here granted Morris use immunity.State v Fahina

Fahina appealed his domestic violence assault conviction arguing certain statements by victim admitted into evidence were inadmissible hearsay not covered by the excited utterance exception. It hele the issue was preserved for review as trial counsel objected to the evidence and the prosecutor raised the excited utterance exception which the district court relied upon in overruling the objection. It held any error in admitting the statements was harmless as the testimony was of minimal significance, was cumulative of victim’s account of the events in question, were relevant to charges which Fahina was acquitted demonstrating their lack of effect on the jury and there was significant circumstantial evidence supporting the assault conviction including eyewitness testimony Fahina had a knife, the knife sheath was in the room where the assault occurred, medical records consistent with victim’s account of the events, victim’s emotional sate when interviewed shortly thereafter and accounts victim screamed about Fahina’s threats to stab her.

State v Montoya

Montoya appealed his murder and obstruction of justice convictions and the denial of his new trial motion. The panel affirmed. It held any error in the exclusion of testimony about an incident involving victim and Montoya’s cousin was harmless as Montoya presented evidence victim was a gang member who had committed armed robberies, that Montoya and victim had a fistfight several months before the fatal shooting and victim pointed a gun at Montoya after the fight ended and evidence victim had threatened to shoot Montoya a few weeks before the shooting here and the jury convicted anyway demonstrating the excluded evidence could not have resulted in different outcome. It affirmed denial of the new trial motion holding trial counsel was not ineffective because the other bad acts evidence exclusion was not harmful and the decision to not call a gang expert was a permissible tactical decision as counsel did ton want to turn the trial into a gang case, there was evidence about Montoya and victim being involved with gangs and evidence of victim’s girlfriend’s motive to lie given the pressures to not given testimony that would make the victim look bad.

In the Interests of R.M. and S.R. (A.R. v State)

A.R. appealed the dismissal of her petition to adopt R.M. and S.R. The panel affirmed. It held A.R. did file her petition within 120 days of the shelter hearing in this case and thus was not entitled to a presumption adoption would be in the children’s best interests and A.R. failed to present any argument against the extensive findings in support of the decision to allow R.M. and S.R.’s paternal great aunt and uncle to adopt them.

In the Interests of S.M., A.M. L.M. and Y.M. (V.S. v State)

V.S. appealed the termination of her parental rights. The panel affirmed. It held evidence that V.S. did not make adjustments necessary to provide a safe home for the children and evidence that the children would be unsafe with her and foster homes were available for the children supported the termination decision.