State v Whitbeck

Whitbeck appealed his theft and failure to stop convictions. The panel affirmed. It affirmed admission of a phone and wallet found in the area of the alleged theft as this evidence supported an inference that Whitbeck was in the area when the car in question was stolen which is a permissible purpose for other bad acts evidence. The evidence was relevant to the issue of whether Whitbeck was involved in the theft and offered some corroboration tot eh testimony of an accomplice, and the potential prejudice here did not outweigh the probative value particularly as the state was limited in its use of the evidence support identity and nothing else. The panel also rejected Whitbeck’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim holding there was no prejudice when counsel did tnoa object to admitting two photos of Whitbeck holding a gun because evidence of guilt as overwhelming including the accomplice’s testimony, identification of Whitbeck in the stolen car by police officers and civilian witnesses and by Whitbeck’s speeding off in the stolen car when approached by police officers.

Northgate Village Development LC v Orem City

Northgate bought interlocutory appeal of the district court’s rulings that evidence of waste other than asphalt buried in the land in question was irrelevant and the exclusion of expert witness testimony. The panel reversed and remanded. It held the district court misinterpreted an earlier appeal in this case in its relevancy analysis and further held that evidence about buried waste other than asphalt was not barred by the earlier appeal and thus the relevancy ruling was erroneous. It held the district court used the wrong legal standard in analyzing City’s rule of evidence 403 motion and thus ruling was erroneous. It finally held that the district t court used the wrong version of the rules of civil procedure in evaluating the expert testimony disclosures and that under the correct 2009 version the disclosures were adequate and the reports and other testimony must be considered at summary judgment.

State v York

York appealed her obstruction of justice conviction. The panel affirmed. It held there was no error in allowing a defense witness to be impeached through his conviction for evidence tampering under rule of evidence 609(a)(2) because that crime requires proof of a dishonest act namely misleading officials as to the status of an item of evidence germane to an investigation. It held that the district court erred in allowing evidence about a possible conviction for supplying false information as the documentation did not in fact prove a conviction as opposed to charge, but, held the error was harmless as the jury had testimony from police officers that York essentially confessed to knowing her boyfriend was hiding a trailer and lied about that in an effort to prevent him from being arrested and the evidence was cumulative to the tampering conviction already admitted into evidence. It finally held that any error in the state informing the jury that the tampering charge was initially a felony was harmless as the jury was informed of the witness’ conviction and there was significant evidence supporting York’s conviction.

State v Robertson

Robertson appealed his aggravated murder convictions. The panel affirmed. It held there was no plain error in not seating a jury of 12 as there no Utah precedent requiring 12 jurors in a noncapital case and the state here did not seek the death penalty. It held there was no plain erro in the district court not declaring Utah’s aggravated murder statute unconstitutional as there is no settled law that not extending the procedures for a death case to aggravated murder cases where death is not sought is unconstitutional. It held there was no plain erro in not rating waiver for the right to be at voir dire like waiver for the right to counsel as there is no Utah precedent holding that to be the case. It rejected Robertson’s ineffective assistance claim about voir dire as he failed to rebut the potential tactical reasons to not have Robertson at voir dire. It held the evidence as to intent was sufficient as to each victim as Robertson owed eh murder weapon for 28 years, it was a revolver and Robertson would see if a round was in the chamber by looking at it, Robertson pointed the revolver at his girl end’s head and pulled the trigger, shot the other victim then lied to police about what happened and left the scene to get his affairs in order in anticipation of killing himself and self-defense was rebutted by Robertson own testimony that he knew the other victim was unarmed, had never fought him and only came towards Robertson after he shot girlfriend in the head. It rejected two other ineffective assistance claims as he presented o no evidence pointing to a lack of investigation and the decision to not sever drug charges was strategic as it provided a basis to argue accident as to the murder charges.