The Appellate Group

State v. Carranza

State v. Carranza, 2023 UT App 72 (Oliver, J.)

Parental Rights

Emanuel Carranza was charged with kidnapping a man he encountered in a park. Carranza claimed there was no kidnapping because the man voluntary hung out with him. Carranza asked his counsel to contact Witness, who was with Carranza and the man, to corroborate his version of the story. Carranza’s counsel, however, did not contact Witness until Carranza’s trial was already underway. Carranza was convicted. On appeal, the Utah Court of Appeals reversed, holding:

  • Counsel was deficient because he did not contact Witness until the second day of trial, and Carranza was prejudiced by counsel’s deficiency because Witness’s account of his interaction with Carranza and the man would have changed the entire evidentiary picture.
  • Practice tip: Without conducting a thorough investigation, counsel’s decisions cannot be attributed to a reasonable trial strategy.  

Read the full court opinion