Utah Court of Appeals
|Utah Court of Appeals|
The Utah Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in Utah. It was formed in 1987 and is one of two state appellate courts. The other state appellate court in Utah is the Utah Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeals hears all appeals from the juvenile and district courts, except cases coming from the small claims department of a district court. It hears appeals involving domestic relations cases, including divorce, annulment, division of property, child custody, child support, visitation, adoption and paternity, and some criminal matters (except first degree felonies and capital cases). The Court of Appeals also considers appeals coming from state agencies such as the Utah Industrial Commission and the Department of Employment Security Career Service Review Board. It also hears cases transferred to it by the Utah Supreme Court.
Judges are chosen using a gubernatorial commission process. The Utah appellate judicial nominating commission has eight members. Seven of the members are appointed by the governor. The eighth member of the commission is the state's chief justice or someone chosen by the chief justice. This member of the commission is a non-voting member.
|Judge James Z. Davis||1993-1/3/2021||Gov. Mike O. Leavitt|
|Judge Gregory Orme||1987-1/3/2021||Gov. Norman Bangerter|
|Judge J. Frederic Voros Jr.||2009-1/3/2021||Gov. Gary Herbert|
|Judge Michele Christiansen||2010-1/3/2021||Gov. Gary Herbert|
|Judge Kate A. Toomey||2014-Present||Gov. Gary Herbert|
|Judge Stephen L. Roth||2010-1/3/2021||Gov. Gary Herbert|
|Judge John A. Pearce||2013-2016||Gov. Gary Herbert|
In order to be a judge on the court:
- A candidate must be a United States citizen.
- He or she must have been a resident of Utah for at least three years.
- The person must be at least 25 years old.
- He or she must be admitted to practice law in Utah.
During the third and fourth week of the month, three-judge panels hear oral arguments from cases. The judges then confer to discuss issues that were raised in the case. One of the judges on the panel is then assigned to write the opinion of the court. In addition to oral argument panels, three judges are designated by the court to the law and motion panel. This panel is responsible for reviewing and deciding procedural and substantive motions. It also hears cases on one day per month.
While the court sessions are usually held in Salt Lake City, the court also travels multiple times during the year and holds court in various regions of the state.
|• Convictions for sexual assault overturned (2015)||Click for summary→|
|David Deng Akok and John Atem Jok were accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her apartment in September 2012. The woman claimed that she spent a friendly evening with Jok and Akok. The three became intoxicated, and the woman fell asleep with both men still in her apartment. She claimed to awaken to find Jok fondling her. She asked him to stop, and he allegedly shoved his hand down her pants. She also claimed Akok raped her after Jok finished his assault. She went to a hospital where there was evidence corroborating her story, but doctors at the hospital were unable to affirmatively conclude the woman had been raped. Jok and Akok maintained throughout their arrest and trial that they engaged in a consensual sexual encounter with the woman.
At trial, a prosecutor allegedly used emotion to appeal to the jury during closing arguments. The record in the case reflects that the prosecutor told the jury that the two men had already taken advantage of the woman once and, if the jury did not convict the men, she would be taken advantage of again. Because the statement was made during the rebuttal portion of closing statements, the defense did not have an opportunity to respond or let the jury know that the prosecutor's comments were inappropriate. When the defense objected to the statement outside the presence of the jury and requested that Judge Ann Boyden declare a mistrial, she refused. Boyden did, however, attempt to cure the prejudice to the defendants by calling the jury back from deliberations to inform them that they could not use the prosecutor's statements as substantive proof during their deliberations.
The jury ultimately returned guilty verdicts for both men in the case. Akok was found guilty of rape, which is a first-degree felony in Utah. Jok was found guilty of two counts of forcible sex abuse, which is a second-degree felony. Both men were found guilty of the class C misdemeanor of intoxication. Attorneys for Jok and Akok appealed the convictions to the Utah Court of Appeals. They claimed that the prosecutor used emotion to distract the jury from their duty to make an impartial decision based on the law.
Judge Gregory Orme wrote the opinion for the panel. He wrote that the curative instruction attempted by Boyden was ineffective as it lacked real substance and force. Further, the court found that there was a "reasonable likelihood that, in the absence of the prosecutor's improper statement, there would have been a more favorable result" for Jok and Akok. Akok's rape conviction was overturned, as was Jok's forcible sexual abuse conviction. Orme wrote that the Court of Appeals had no confidence in the verdict and sent it back to Judge Boyden for retrial. The opinion of the court also strongly encouraged separate trials for the two defendants to avoid prejudice.
- News: Wikipedia cited in Utah appellate court, August 27, 2012
- Utah Courts, "Court of Appeals Judges"
- Utah Court of Appeals
- Utah Courts, "Judge Selection and Evaluation"
- May vary for chief judge
- Utah Department of Administrative Services, "Court of Appeals Website," accessed January 27, 2015
- Utah Courts, "Judicial Nominating Commissions," accessed January 27, 2015
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Utah," archived October 6, 2014
- Deseret News, "Convictions of 2 in S.L. sex assault case overturned by appeals court," April 16, 2015