The Appellate Group

Bohman Aggregates v. Gilbert

Bohman Aggregates v. Gilbert, 2021 UT App 35 (Mortensen, J.)

Civil Procedure

At trial, Attorney Bohman represented himself pro se. Because of Attorney Bohman’s pre-trial behavior, the district court warned him it would declare a mistrial if he violated Utah Rules of Professional Conduct, rule 3.4 by vouching for himself or any other witness or defaming another party. Attorney Bohman repeatedly vouched for himself during opening and closing arguments and called the opposing party “an absolute crook,” among other things. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Bohman Aggregates. The trial court declared a mistrial. Bohman Aggregates appealed. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • The district court did not exceed its discretion in granting a new trial based on the impact of Attorney Bohman’s many rule 3.4 violations.
  • Practice Point: Rule 3.4 applies to pro se attorney litigants. A pro se attorney may not assert personal knowledge while previewing a case in opening statements, while questioning another witness directly or on cross-examination, or during closing arguments—where opposing parties have no opportunity to scrutinize that evidence before the jury.

Read the full court opinion