The Appellate Group

State v. Meyer

State v. Meyer, 2023 UT App 65 (Mortensen, J.)

Criminal Law/Evidence

The State charged Meyer with child abuse after using process-of-elimination to argue she was the only possible cause of injury to her daughter. During a preliminary hearing, Meyer’s now-husband was forced to testify. The testimony was admitted during the bench trial, and Meyer was convicted. On appeal, Meyer argued the court erred in admitting the preliminary hearing testimony. The Utah Court of Appeals vacated Meyer’s conviction and remanded, holding:

  • The district court erred in determining that Meyer had the same motive and opportunity to question the witness in the preliminary hearing as she did at trial because the judge would–presumably–not have prevented follow-up questions at trial.
  • Practice Tip: The defense’s motive in questioning a witness at a preliminary hearing is to show lack of probable cause while the motive at trial is to introduce reasonable doubt.

Read the full court opinion