The Appellate Group

State v. Ellis

State v. Ellis, 2020 UT App 119 (Orme, J.)


The State charged the defendant with aggravated robbery for stealing money from a store at gunpoint. At trial, the defendant sought to strike a juror for cause because the juror had been robbed at gunpoint years earlier, but the court declined to strike the juror for cause. The jury convicted the defendant. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, holding:

  • The defendant argues on appeal that although the empaneled jurors were not biased, he was harmed because he was forced to use a preemptory strike to dismiss the juror who had been robbed years earlier. He asserts that the standard requiring him to show that an actually biased juror sat violates his rights under the Uniform Operation of Law Clause of the Utah Constitution. Assuming, doubtfully, that this clause applies, the defendant cannot show that he was harmed because he cannot show that using the preemptory strike caused another biased juror to sit.
  • As a whole, the jury instructions correctly informed the jury how to approach the aggravated robbery charge and the applicable weapons enhancement.

Read the full court opinion