State v Shepherd

Shepherd appealed his convictions for charges arising from a boating accident. The panel affirmed. It held that there was sufficient evidence to sustain a reckless endangerment conviction as witnesses testified they heard the victim screaming, her distress would have been evident and that she likely would have survived if Sheppard had rendered aid. It held that there was no violation of Shepherd’s right to remain silent as he never invoked that right and in any event there was strong evidence of guilt including Shepherd’s own admissions he saw the victim and left her in the water. The panel held that there was no error in qualifying the state’s witness as his experience in boats and as an enforcement official qualified him as an expert and he offered no opinion as to the ultimate question. It finally rejected Shepherd’s ineffective assistance claims as defense counsel could have had legitimate tactical reasons not to object to the prosecutor’s final argument including the ability to personalize his own argument, mention of the lesser charges in the case benefited Shepherd and here was no call to base the verdict on anything but the evidence, common sense and reason all of which are appropriate.

Layton City v Brierley

City appealed the grant of Brierley’s motion to suppress. The panel reversed. It held that the inevitable discovery rule applied here as detectives had an eyewitness who took down the license plate of Brierley’s SUV, were at her house, had statements from the housekeeper that Brierley had driven the SUV and appears to under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the SUV had damage consistent with the accident reported, the detectives had consulted the city attorney and started the process of submitting an application for a search warrant and the facts were sufficient to issue a warrant. Thus, Brierley’s apprehension and sobriety tests would have procured and the motion should have been denied.

Jacob v Bate

Jacob appealed the district court’s judgment that Bate had a prescriptive easement over an alley owned by Jacob and the easement had not been extinguished. The panel affirmed. It held that testimony that the alley was used by bate and her predecessors in title to deliver goods and maintain buildings triggered the presumption of hostility and proved the uses occurred for more than the required 20 years. It also held the evidence only supported interference with the easement for 19 years as there was no evidence who put a chain across the alleyway before 1987, no one locked the chain before 1987 and Bate objected in 2006. The panel finally affirmed the judgment of no trespass as the only reasonable way for bate to use the easement was to remove the lock form the chain and the cement barriers access the entryway.

CitiMortgage, Inc. v Stephenson

Stephenson appealed the declaratory judgment that CitiMortgage’s trust deed was valid and had priority over any interest of Stephenson. The panel affirmed. It held Stephenson waived any argument that CitiMortgage’s interest was void by failing to argue the issue had been decided in a prior probate proceeding during the district court’s consideration of this action. It held that the parties had raised the issue of priority in their arguments below, that the district court rule on the issue and the order setting out priority was unambiguous.

Salt Lake City v Valdez-Sadler

Valdez-Sadler appealed the denial of her motion for directed verdict in her obstruction of justice trail. The panel, with two judges supporting reversal in separate opinions and one judge dissenting, reversed her conviction. The lead opinion argued that Utah Code 76-8-306 does not apply when the alleged wrongdoing is a probation violation as the underlying crime has already been prosecuted and the acts of the accused could not have possibly interfered with the completed prosecution. The concurring judge argued that when the accused is charged with helping a person on probation, as here, 76-8-306.5 applies at it specially covers probationers and the specific law controls over the the general law. The dissent argued that the motion was proper because a probation violation allegation is related to the underlying criminal conviction, both 306 and 306.5 can be violated by the same act and any double convictions can be realty with through merger or at sentencing.

State v Chavez-Reyes

Chavez-Reyes appealed his conviction arising form aiding a suspect in a murder. The panel affirmed. It held the photo of the victim was not gruesome as it did not show wounds and the facts about the discovery of the victim’s body were already in evidence. It held that the prosecutor made a  prejudicial argument about Chavez-Reyes loaning his car to the suspect, but, this was harmless as the jury heard evidence the loan was done month earlier for a noncriminal purpose. It finally rejected an ineffective assistance argument holding the attorney asked for a new presentence report and succeeded in removing false information form the report.

Unck v Department of Workforce Services

Unck appealed the order to repay unemployment benefits and pay a penalty for fraud. The panel affirmed holding that by applying for disability benefits, being ineligible for a driver position and applying for positions he lacked the needed skills, Unck was not available to work as required by law. The panel also held that by stating he was, he committed fraud and thus the penalty was appropriate.

State v Jones

Jones Appealed denial of motion to set aside illegal sentence. The panel affirmed. It held that Jones was actually attacking his conviction which is not a proper use of the illegal sentence procedure and that his sentence was based on jury findings and thus proper.