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Kamoe v. Ridge

Kamoe v. Ridge, 2021 UT 5 (Himonas, J.)

Criminal Law (Justice Court); Statutory Interpretation

Ms. Kamoe pled guilty to a single count of impaired driving pursuant to a negotiated plea bargain. Ms. Kamoe then appealed her conviction to the district court, but withdrew her appeal after the district court denied her motion to suppress blood-test evidence. Back in the justice court, Ms. Kamoe sought to reinstate the judgement entered pursuant to the negotiated plea bargain, but the justice court refused at the request of the prosecutor, who desired Ms. Kamoe to be tried on all three counts originally charged. Ms. Kamoe filed a petition for extraordinary relief with the district court, which was denied. On appeal, the Utah Supreme Court reversed:

  • As a matter of statutory interpretation, under Utah Code § 78A-7-118(3), an appeal to the district court from a negotiated plea in justice court does not vacate or void the judgement of the justice court. Under the plain language of the statute, the judgment persists, but may be stayed pending the defendant’s appeal to district court. If the appeal is withdrawn prior to the district court entering a final judgment, the judgment entered by the justice court remains the final judgment in the case. Accordingly, the Court remanded with instructions to reinstate Ms. Kamoe’s original judgment.

Read the full court opinion

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