In the Matter of the Adoption of B.B. (E.T. v R.K.B. and K.A.B.)

E.T. appealed the denial of his motion to intervene. The Court, 3-2 reversed and remanded. Himonas, Durham and Pearce held that E.T. is a “parent” under the Indian Child Welfare Act as he is the unwed biological father of B.B., the Act incorporates a federal reasonableness standard for determining if an unwed father has acknowledged or established paternity under a plain language reading, Utah’s requirements to establish paternity are greater than a reasonable standard and thus federal law applies, E.T. financially supported birth mother and after learning she had lied about her whereabouts and put B.B. up for adoption he obtained counsel and moved to intervene and other wise tried to participate in the adoption proceeding and E.T. had legal custody over B.B. as the biological father and the lacked physical custody of B.B. only because mother lied to him and thus he is entitled to intervene. The same Justices held that the adoption proceeding qualified as “involuntary” under the Act as E.T. did not consent to the termination of his rights and to hold otherwise would undermine the purposes of the Act to protect Indian parents and children. Lee and Durrant dissented on this issue arguing the Act adopted state law definitions of parent, acknowledgment and establishment as paternity is a state law issue, acknowledge and establish are terms of art in this context, the Act uses the past tense, the Act indicates parents must use formal processes to trigger notice rights and it is unreasonable to believe Congress delegated authority on these issues to state court systems and the majority approach will lead to any bare acknowledgement triggering the protections of the Act which cannot be the law as it would make all adoptions of Indian children subject to attack at any time. The Court also split 3-2 on whether mother’s invalid consent divested the district court of subject matter jurisdiction. Lee, Durrant and Pearce held that subject matter jurisdiction is limed to whether the court in question can hear the class of cases and certain aspects of case like ripeness and a mother’s consent does not impact subject matter jurisdiction and argued that holding otherwise here would logically make any unfulfilled statutory requirement a potential basis to vacate a judgment for lack of subject matter jurisdiction which would upend the American civil justice system and further that the issue was not even before the Court as E.T. failed to raise the issue below in a Rule of Civil Procedure 60 motion or argued the issue in his brief. Himonas and Durham argued there was no subject matter jurisdiction here as mother’s consent was essential to making B.B. available for adoption and thus her attempted consent which was signed before the ten day period in the Act was void and left the district court with nothing to decide and E.T. has a right to challenge the termination order here as his rights are inextricably intertwined with the termination dn adoption orders.

State v Ainsworth

The State sought review of the Court of Appels decision that the measurable amount of controlled substances statute was duplicative of the driving under the influence statute and thus the higher penalties for measurable substances could not be imposed and Ainsworth sought review of the decision rejecting his challenge to consecutive sentences. The Court reversed in part and affirmed in part. It held the measurable amount crime in Utah code 57-37-8(2) and 41-6a-517 is not duplicative of driving under the influence as it requires proof the drug involved is a schedule I or II substance while DUI can involve any drug or alcohol, measurable amount is thus not a lesser offense of driving under the influence and it is rational for the legislature to punish use of schedule I and II drugs more severely than use of other drugs, the Shondel rule against charging the higher classification for crimes with the same elements did not apply here as the elements of the two crimes here are different and in any event the measurable amounts statues were passed later in time. It also held that there is rational basis under recent court precedent to allow an affirmative defense for prescription drug use namely discouraging illegal drug use. It finally affirmed on the sentencing issue as Ainsworth merely argued the weighing of factors which is insufficient to prevail.

2DP Blanding LLC v Palmer; Black Oil Co. v First National Bank of Layton

Palmer appealed the district court judgment granting title in certain real property to Blanding. The Court affirmed holding that failure to obtain a stay during an appeal involving interests in real property means a party loses all actionable rights in the property if it has been lawfully conveyed to a third party during the pendency of the appeal unless a lis pendis is filed, palmer neither obtained  stay nor filed a lis pendis, the property here was lawfully conveyed to Black Oil then to Blanding and even if they had actual knowledge of the earlier appeal about the property, they took title free of any interest of Palmer. It further held that the foreclosure notice by bank did not need to comply with the judgment registry statute as it was not intended to create a lien on the property and the Court of Appeals decision in an earlier related case did not unambiguously hold Palmer’s interest survived the sale to Black oil and thus issue preclusion did not apply.

State v Goins

Goins sought review of the Court of Appels decision affirming his aggravated assault and use of a dangerous weapons conviction arguing the district court erred inn admitting an absent witness’ preliminary hearing testimony. The Court affirmed on the assault conviction and reversed and remanded on the dangerous weapon conviction. It assumed the witness was unavailable and held that under Rule of Evidence 804, defense counsel don’t generally have the same motive to cross examine at preliminary hearings as at trial because Utah Constitution Article I, Section 12, as adopted in 1994, limits the hearing to issues of probable cause and issues of credibility are usually not covered at the hearing, this change in the law requires that the Court’s 1981 Brooks decision which adopted a per se rule of admissibility for preliminary hearing testimony when a witness is unavailable be disavowed and overruled. The Court adopted a new rule that preliminary hearing testimony is generally inadmissible under 804 unless there is evidence that a similar motive actually existed at the time of the examination at the preliminary hearing and the district court did not perform that analysis here. While reversal of the dangerous weapons charge was required, the assault conviction stands as the preliminary hearing testimony did not cover the assault in question, there was an independent eyewitness to that assault and photo evidence of the wounds involved. The Court finally held that the Court of Appeals did not err when it declined to consider Goins petition for rehearing as the petition raised new claims.

State v Martin

Martin appealed his child sex abuse convictions and his sentence. The Court affirmed. It held the was no abuse of discretion in admitting expert testimony about forensic interviews of abuse victims as Martin failed to object or otherwise preserve his argument about testimony on memory formation, testimony on why victims make inconsistent  disclosures and on the range of reactions and behaviors after the abuse was helpful to jurors who believed all victims make complete disclosures and exhibits a discrete set of reactions (but cautioned district courts to continue to carefully asses all scientific testimony in abuse cases) and the one statement that was bolstering the victims’ credibility was stricken and a curative instruction given at martin’s request. The Court affirmed exclusion of evidence about several allegedly false accusation of sexual misconduct b victim’s mother as the district court did not rely on factors disavowed by the Court, allowed more direct evidence mother had manipulated her children in the past to make false accusations and allowing the excluded incidents into evidence would have required mini-trials which would have wasted time and confused the jury as the projected evid3ene was inconclusive and contradictory. It finally affirmed the sentence holding Martin failed to preserve his argument that the district court failed to make required comparisons with lesser crimes and did not argue plain error and the district court properly considered the nonviolent nature of the offense, the fact there were two children abused, Martin’s post-conviction failure to take responsibility for the crimes, the fact defendants who plead guilty often receive lower sentences, did not double count the element of having a special relationship to victims and considered Martin’s lack of a criminal record and the support of the community and mere disagreement with the weighing of factors is insufficient to reverse.