The Appellate Group

State v. Anderson

State v. Anderson, 2020 UT App 135 (Hagen, J.,)


The State charged the defendant with sexually abusing his younger cousin one evening while the defendant was drinking. After a jury convicted the defendant, the defendant raised several issues on appeal. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions, holding:

  • The evidence of the impact of the events on the cousin was relevant because it was circumstantial evidence that a traumatic event had occurred. Thus, trial counsel was not ineffective when he did not object to this evidence. 
  • Where the defendant never expressly invoked his Fifth Amendment right to silence as appeared to be required under older caselaw, it was not objectively unreasonable for trial counsel to forgo an objection to the State’s use of pre-arrest silence. 
  • Trial counsel was not ineffective when he did not object to the State’s use of the defendant’s statements in a psychosexual report. The report was not necessarily harmful to the defendant until he changed his story while testifying, and once he testified differently, those statements became prior inconsistent statements that were admissible under the rules of evidence. 
  • Trial counsel did not suggest in opening argument that the defendant was guilty, and trial counsel corrected a misstatement of a mandatory minimum sentence when the parties discussed a failed plea deal.

Read the full court opinion