Utah Court of Appeals vacates drug convictions due to breakdown of the adversarial process and issues one other decision.

State v Martinez-Castellanos

Martinez-Castellanos appealed his drug convictions. The panel, with one judge concurring in part and result in pat and the majority opinion author adding a response to the concurrence, vacated the convictions and remanded for a new trial with a new attorney. The majority held that trial counsel was not ineffective during voir dire even though he did not seek to have Martinez-Castellanos present for individual voir dire either by moving to have him in chambers during questioning or at a minimum consulting him before exercising preemptory challenges, three members of the jury provided information which was significant to the informed use of the challenges including one who served a state trooper supervisor and knew the arresting officer here, one who had a son arrested for drug offenses and felt drugs in a car (as here) meant guilt and another who would not explain why she felt hesitation in committing to be fair because it is presumed under the inadequate record here that no biased juror actually sat and Martinez-Castellanos failed to prove the result would have been different absent counsel’s deficient performance. It held there was such deficient performance on a motion to suppress that Martinez-Castellanos was effectively unrepresented as trial counsel failed to submit any legal or factual argument in support of the motion despite winning a motion to reconsider on the issue and the attorney appointed as amicus in a post-trail proceeding also failed to make any legal or factual argument in support of the motion and thus there was no adversarial proceeding on the motion. The majority concluded that the errors which occurred below cumulatively undermined the confidence of the Court of Appels that the trial here was fair is undermined and there was a breakdown in the adversarial process as a whole. the concurrence argued that a miscarriage of justice occurred here as the reconnected record shows no follow up on the three jurors which is error in itself, the fiacre to submit any argument in support of the motion to suppress is inexcusable (but consistent with trial counsel’s failure to brief in the past which led to discipline) and the failure to consult about the highway trooper supervisor was not only inexcusable but unprofessional and the juror in question is an officer who has been found to violate the Fourth Amendment during traffic stops in several state and federal appellate cases and thus was unsuited to sit on this case. The response argued that the reconstituted record does not allow appellate courts to conclude anything not mentioned did not happen and thus normal presumptions of regulate apply and the use of character evidence against trial counsel and hearsay evidence against the state trooper supervisor ignores principles of of focusing on alleged error brought up bit the parties and invades the case by case use of voir dire to determine who can serve on juries.In the interests of S.K.A. (S.K.A. v state)

S.K.A. appealed the juvenile dispositional order which included a suspended adult jail sentence. The panel affirmed. It held that recent court precedent allowed the use of adult jail sentences in juvenile cases as it is an alternative to detention and that the order here was appropriate given the district court’s apparent intent to use the threat of jail time to encourage S.K.A. to pay his fines.