State v Finlayson

Finlayson was convicted after a bench trial of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault. He appealed arguing his request for a bench trial should have been denied, there was insufficient evidence to sustain his convictions and his convictions should have been merged. The panel affirmed. It first denied a motion to remand under rule of Appellate Procedure 23B as Finlayson failed to provide anything beyond speculation that his trial counsel was ineffective. It next held that under the circumstances of the case, namely Finlayson asking for a bench trial, consulting with his attorney, telling the court he wanted a bench trial and expressing concerns that his parolee status would prejudice him with a jury, the lack of a colloquy did not render the request unknowing or involuntary. The panel held that evidence Finlayson pushed his wife down a flight of stairs was sufficient to sustain the aggravated assault conviction as pushing someone down a flight of stairs is likely to cause serious bodily injury or death as required by Utah Code 76-5-103(1)(a). It held that the aggravated kidnapping conviction was supported by substantial evidence because Finlayson threatened to kill the victim when she declare she was calling the police which hindered the reporting of the aggravated assault or felony witness tampering and Finlayson choked the victim and threw her down stairs which both evidence an intent cause bodily injury and to terrorize the victim. The panel rejected the merger argument as the detention was not incidental to the assault as Finlayson sat on the victim and held her longer than necessary to assault her, the detention was not inherent in throwing her down the stairs and did not need to confine victim for an hour to complete the act of throwing her down the stairs. The panel finally held that a constitutional challenge to the aggravated assault statute was unpreserved and there was nothing exception in this case to excuse the failure to preserve.  

Gourley v Department of Workforce Services

Department found Gourley committed fraud by failing to report income while claiming unemployment benefits and assessed a penalty. The panel affirmed. It held substantial evidence supported the finding namely Gourley’s own testimony that she received a retainer to start a business then fees for publicity work which she failed to report and, alternatively, that she was injured in a car crash but reported herself available to work.

State v Rupert

Rupert appealed his assault conviction arguing the district court erred in denying his request for a self-defense jury instruction, erred in two evidentiary rulings and his trial counsel was ineffective. The panel affirmed. It held that self-defense was not available here as the video evidence clearly established the victim was not an imminent threat. The panel held Rupert failed to raise his bad acts evidence issue at the trial court and thus forfeited review. It finally held that Rupert failed to prove the video of the fight and its aftermath was “gruesome” under Utah law particularly as it depicted the crime scene which is an important factor in the analysis.

Miller v State

Miller filed a petition to determine actual innocence which the district court denied. The panel affirmed as Miller failed to provide any new e evidence and merely sought to relitigate issues already litigated at his trial.

Brehm v Department of Workforce Services

Brehm was fired for accessing juvenile court records for cases she was not the probation offer assigned. Department denied her application for unemployment benefits. The panel affirmed. It held that under rule 994-405, the analysis is for “good Cause” termination not an analysis of preexisting policies or laws. It held that the judiciary has a legitimate interest in maintaining the perception of integrity and Brehm’s actions were a sufficient threat to that interest to justify termination. It finally held that Brehm’s own acknowledgement that the records were private and the general knowledge that certain court records are confidential were sufficient to conclude Brehm knowingly committed misconduct.