State v Sanchez

Sanchez appealed his murder and obstruction of justice convictions. The panel, with one judge concurring in part and in result in apart, affirmed. The majority held that the district court erred when it refused to admit into evidence portions of Sanchez’s statement to police which explained he attacked the victim because she said she was cheating on Sanchez with his brother because Rule of Evidence 106 requires admission when fairness demands it and fairness requires the statements here be admitted because they qualified his later confession to beating the victim and, , resolving an open question of  law with deep splits in federal and state appellate authority,  further held that 106 creates an exception to the hearsay bar because of the language of the rule, its placement in the general provisions and the reality that 106 will become a dead letter if the portions excluded must be independently admissible and further support is found in the general Rule 807 hearsay exception and the writings of scholars. However, the majority held the error was harmless because there is no reasonable probability the jury would have concluded a reasonable person would have responded to victim’s statements by beating her for five to nine hours which resulted in broken ribs, numerous bruises on the whole of the victim’s body and finally using a forearm to chock the victim to death. It held that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the obstruction charge as Sanchez cleaned up the crime scene intending to hinder the investigation and whether this was done before or after victim’s death is irrelevant. The concurrence argued that statements offered under 106 must satisfy the hearsay rule as holding otherwise allows criminal defendants to put their exculpatory statements before the jury without being subjected to cross examination.

Wittingham LLC v TNE Limited Partnership

TNE appealed the dismissal of its case and Wittingham appealed the denial of its request for attorney fees. The panel affirmed. It held that TBNE’s case was properly dismissed because the underlying contract was entered into by a limited partnership that had been dissolved two years earlier and such contracts are void under a 97 year old Utah Supreme Court case. The panel called for that case to be revisited in light of more modern law ion void contracts. It held that the void contract could not provide a basis for attorney fees and thus affirmed on Wittignham’s appeal. It finally held that the person who signed the contract was never named in the complaint or served and thus there was no jurisdiction over him or over a fraudulent conveyance claim to which that person was an indispensable party and an issue about a judgment absent a certain individual was inadequately briefed.

Heartwood Home Health & Hospice, LLC v Huber

Heartwood appealed the district court’s order imposing Rule of Civil Procedure 11 sanctions. The panel dismissed. It held that while review was available at the time the order was entered, the Utah Supreme Court overruled the controlling precedent allowing review, the new rule presumptively applies retroactively and Heartwood failed to demonstrate that the new rule should only apply prospectively.

State v Toombs

Toombs appealed his child sex abuse convictions arguing they were time barred. The panel affirmed. It held that statements to the police about Toombs’s behavior to police lacked specificity as to what happened, when and where and thus could not constitute a report to police triggering the statute of limitations. It held there was no ineffective assistance of counsel as trial counsel raised the limitations defense and negotiated a conditional plea preserving the issue for appellate review.

Gordon v State

Gordon appealed the dismissal of this petition for post-conviction relief. The panel affirmed. It held there was no Brady violation in withholding notes of the investigating detective because the notes were not material as they did not undermine the state’s theory of the case and the issue at trial was identity not mode of killing, the issues about a bloody cement panel were raised in cross examination of the coroner who later stated the notes would not have changed his conclusions on method of killing and significant eyewitness and video evidence connected Gordon to the homicide. It held Gordon’s claim of a due process violation in the state’s failure to collect the panel was procedurally barred because trial counsel was aware of the panel form pictures given him during discovery and thus could have collected the panel and run tests and the issue could have been raised in Gordon’s direct appeal. It finally held that Gordon’s ineffective assistance claim was procedurally barred as he failed to allege his appellate counsel was ineffective in not raising the ineffectiveness of trial counsel on direct appeal.

Go Invest Wisely LLC v Barnes

Barnes appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The panel affirmed. It held that while it was a close question, the documentary evidence that Barnes agreed to handle brokerage duties, saw a representative deed which identified Invest as the ultimate title holder, received wire transfers from Utah through a Utah bank and contracted Invest’s agent was sufficient to demonstrate minimal contacts and thus personal jurisdiction here satisfies the federal due process clause.

Go Invest Wisely LLC v Murphy

Murphy appealed the denial of his rule of Civil Procedure 60 motion to set aside a default judgment. The panel affirmed in part, vacated n part and remanded. It vacated the denial of relief for lack of personal jurisdiction holding the district court erred in not ruling on Murphy’s hearsay objection to exhibits from a trial and the panel was unable to determine if this error led the district court to rely on the exhibits in making its decision. The issue was remanded to rule on the admissibility of the exhibits and make a new ruling based on eh admissible evidence. The panel affirmed the denial of the motion on the ground of excusable neglect because it was unreasonable to conclude from the district court’s silence that Murphy’s request for an extension of time to answer had been granted and then do nothing for six months after sending his letter requesting the extension.

State v Garner

Garner appealed the denial of motion to disclose the identity of confidential informants at his preliminary hearing. The panel, with one judge concurring in result only, affirmed. The majority held that there was no right to disclose at the preliminary hearing as the Utah Constitution has been amend to abolish the right of confrontation at preliminary hearings and the informants were not physically present giving testimony and in any event disclosure would have occurred before trial.