Tuesday, May 7, 2019

State v. Lambdin: Extreme emotional disturbance as a statutory basis for special mitigation of murder charge to lesser charge

In order to obtain a “extreme emotional disturbance” in connection with the statutory defense to the crime of murder the defendant must show: “(1) when he has no mental illness as defined in section 76–2–305 (insanity or diminished capacity); and (2) when he is exposed to extremely unusual and overwhelming stress; and (3) when the average reasonable person under that stress would have an extreme emotional reaction to it, as a result of which he would experience a loss of self-control and that person's reason would be overborne by intense feelings, such as passion, anger, distress, grief, excessive agitation, or other similar emotions.”State v. Lambdin, 2017 UT 46, ¶ 15, 424 P.3d 117, 121, holding modified by State v. Sanchez, 2018 UT 31, ¶ 15, 422 P.3d 866.

In this case, the Defendant and his wife were in a rocky marriage. A month before he murdered her, she had asked for a divorce. He also discovered she was having an extra-marital affair and was pregnant with another man’s child. A month later, the Defendant killed his wife. The Defendant sought to reduce the level of his offense to manslaughter by proving special mitigation by extreme emotional distress by urging the Court formulate a new definition of extreme emotional distress. The Defendant also argued, in the alternative, that the current definition of extreme emotional distress did not require the defendant to show that his loss of self-control was reasonable. The Court ruled against him on both arguments holding that the definition was correct and that the Defendant defendants to prove that they were “exposed to extremely unusual and overwhelming stress,” and that “the average reasonable person under that stress would have an extreme emotional reaction to it, as a result of which he would experience a loss of self-control and that person's reason would be overborne by intense feelings.”

State v. Martinez: requesting that a passenger provide identification following traffic stop, and then running a background check on that passenger without reasonable suspicion that the passenger had committed, or was about to commit, a crime did not violate the Fourth Amendment

An officer may request that a passenger provide identification because the officer safety concerns justified the negligibly burdensome extension of the traffic stop.See State v. Martinez, 2017 UT 43, 424 P.3d 83.

A Utah Highway Patrol Trooper stopped a vehicle for an improper lane change and asked both the driver and George Matthew Martinez, a passenger, for identification. The trooper ran a warrant check and learned that Martinez had an outstanding arrest warrant. The officer searched Martinez incident to his arrest and discovered a glass pipe with methamphetamine residue inside. The issue in this case was whether a law enforcement officer violate the Fourth Amendment if she requests that a passenger voluntarily provide identification and then runs a background check on that passenger without reasonable suspicion that the passenger has committed—or is about to commit—a crime. Martinez sought to exclude the evidence, arguing that the officer had violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Martinez claimed that “‘[a]ny further temporary detention’ for investigative questioning after fulfilling the original purpose for the traffic stop constitutes an illegal seizure, unless an officer has probable cause to arrest or a reasonable suspicion of a further illegality.” However, the court recognized that “certain measures promoting officer safety fall within the permissible scope of a traffic stop,” and concluded that the Trooper’s voluntary interaction with Martinez did not violate Martinez's Fourth Amendment rights and the negligible extension of the stop by running Martinez’s background did not unreasonably prolong the detention.

State v. Mooers & Becker: orders of complete restitution are separately appealable from a criminal sentence, but court-ordered restitution is not separately appealable

“We therefore treat court-ordered restitution in the plea in abeyance context as a condition of the plea rather than part of the sentence, which may or may not ever be entered.”State v. Mooers, 2017 UT 36, ¶ 19, 424 P.3d 1, 6

The issue in this case was whether an order of complete restitution that is part of a plea in abeyance is a final order appealable as of right. Each defendant was appealing the restitution they were ordered to pay as part of their plea in abeyance. The State argued that a district court's order of restitution is not final for a plea in abeyance because the defendant has been neither convicted nor sentenced, and it is the sentence that triggers the time for appeal. The defendants argued that because conviction and restitution have separate timeframes and purposes, an order of restitution should be considered final regardless of whether or when a conviction occurs. The court noted that court-ordered restitution is restitution the defendant to pay as a part of the criminal sentence at the time of sentencing or within one year after sentencing, whereas complete restitution is “restitution necessary to compensate a victim for all losses caused by the defendant.” Ultimately, the Court held, that orders of complete restitution are separately appealable from a criminal sentence. “And even though the order of complete restitution is entered on the civil docket, defendants may still appeal the order of complete restitution from their criminal case. . . .” But, “[c]ourt-ordered restitution, in contrast, is not separately appealable because it is a condition of the plea in abeyance, which is not a final order. It is therefore not appealable unless the sentence is entered.”

State v. Lowther: Verde 's Doctrine of Chances foundational requirements have not displaced the Shickles factors for purposes of rule 403.

“Verde 's requirements may help a court assess the probative value of prior bad acts evidence, we clarify that in evaluating doctrine of chances evidence under rule 403, a court may consider any relevant fact and need not necessarily consider Verde 's foundational requirements or limit its analysis to these requirements.” State v. Lowther, 2017 UT 34, ¶ 29, 398 P.3d 1032, 1041.

Lowther, the defendant, was accused of alleged rape or object rape of four women. Each woman identified Mr. Lowther as her attacker, and the State filed charges against him for each alleged crime. The State moved to introduce the testimony of the other women under rule 404(b) of the Utah Rules of Evidence and the doctrine of chances in order to show that the victim did not consent to sexual intercourse with Mr. Lowther. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court granted the State's motion. The Utah Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the lower courts erred in articulating and applying the doctrine of chances. The court of appeals upheld the district court's analysis of rule 404(b), but ultimately concluded that the district court erred when it applied State v. Shickles to conclude that the witnesses' testimony was admissible under rule 403. The Court ruled it is proper for courts do consider Verde’s requirements when determining the admissibility of 404(b) evidence. But then clarified that the Verde requirements have not displaced the Shickles factors in cases where the doctrine of chances is involved. Instead, courts have “discretion to consider any relevant factors that assist in determining whether the “probative value” of the witnesses' testimony is “substantially outweighed by a danger of ... unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.”

Butt v. State: A rudimentary drawing could not support the charge of dealing harmful materials to a minor.

The standard of whether material, taken as a whole, appeals to a prurient interest in sex is met with respect to material that is aimed at appealing to a young child's interest in engaging in sexual activity with a parent, or any adult. Such material is criminal, and thus easily deemed shameful or morbid and outside the protections of the First Amendment. Butt v. State, 2017 UT 33, 398 P.3d 1024.

Petitioner was convicted of two counts of dealing harmful materials to a minor when he drew two rudimentary drawings and sent them to his daughter while he was incarcerated. On appeal, Petitioner argued his defense counsel was ineffective by failing to raise a freedom of speech defense. The issue was whether the drawing qualified as “obscenity” and whether the assertion of a free speech defense would have altered the outcome of the trial.The defendant argued that the drawings did not “appeal to a prurient interest in sex." The Court ultimately held that the rudimentary drawing was not sexual or sexually suggestive, and accordingly did not appeal to a prurient interest in sex based on the Petitioner’s testimony at trial and the drawing itself. Thus, Petitioner’s conviction was reversed.

State v. Outzen: A showing of impairment is not required for a conviction for operating a motor vehicle by a person who has any measurable controlled substance or metabolite of a controlled substance in the person's body

“The statute criminalizes driving with “any measurable controlled substance or metabolite of a controlled substance in the person's body.” To limit the measurable controlled substances and metabolites to those that cause impairment would reduce the scope of the statute to less than “any”—a result that is incompatible with the legislature's use of the word any.” State v. Outzen, 2017 UT 30, ¶ 11.

Outzen, the defendant, fell asleep at the wheel and caused a two-car collision. Sobriety tests revealed that Mr. Outzen was not too impaired to drive, but a blood test revealed that he had the primary metabolite of marijuana in his system. He was charged under Utah Code section 41-6a-517 for operating a motor vehicle with a metabolite of a controlled substance in his body. At trial, Outzen moved to dismiss, arguing that the plain language of section 41-6a-517 requires a showing of impairment. The Court held that a showing of impairment is not required for a conviction under this statute because the statute criminalizes driving with any measurable controlled substance or metabolite of a controlled substance in the person's body and not just substances that cause impairments.

State v. Robertson: Utah Code section 76-1-404 limits the dual sovereignty doctrine

“Section 404 requires courts to employ only the Blockburger–Sosa test for determining whether two offenses are the “same offense.” Under this test, two offenses are not the same if each requires proof of an element that the other does not.” State v. Robertson, 2017 UT 27.

Defendant Chris Robertson was prosecuted and convicted by the federal government for possession of child pornography. The State of Utah subsequently charged him with twenty counts of sexual exploitation of a minor based on the same conduct. Mr. Robertson argued that Utah Code section 76-1-404 prohibits this subsequent state prosecution. That statute states “[i]f a defendant's conduct establishes the commission of one or more offenses within the concurrent jurisdiction of this state and of another jurisdiction, federal or state, the prosecution in the other jurisdiction is a bar to a subsequent prosecution in this state if ... the former prosecution resulted in an acquittal, conviction, or termination of prosecution ...; and [ ] the subsequent prosecution is for the same offense or offenses.” The Court found that this statute bars a Utah prosecution if the defendant has already been prosecuted for the same offense in another jurisdiction. “Thus, the language operates as a limitation on the dual sovereignty doctrine, which permits a defendant to be prosecuted for the same offense in two or more jurisdictions so long as the prosecutions are conducted by different sovereigns.” In this case, the State could not prosecute Robertson because the prosecution was based on conduct that constituted the “same offense” for which he was convicted of federally.