State v. Mitchell
State v. Mitchell, 2023 UT App 42 (Christiansen Forster, J.)
Mitchell was found guilty at a jury trial of one count of rape of a child and two
counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Mitchell raised three errors on
appeal: (1) improper expert testimony by a detective who was not disclosed or
qualified as an expert, (2) deficient jury instructions regarding the elements of
rape of a child, and (3) deficient jury instructions that did not include a specific
unanimity instruction. Mitchell brought all claims under ineffective assistance of
counsel and plain error. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed Mitchell’s
- Counsel planned a sound legal defense strategy on the detective’s anticipated testimony about interview techniques.
- Mitchell was not prejudiced by any defective jury instructions.
- Practice tip: Preservation requires proper objections and rulings by the district court. A district court merely “expressing concern” about an issue is likely an insufficient preservation argument.
- Practice tip: When relevant terms or phrases are not specifically defined by statute, take steps to ensure the jury instructions incorporate any relevant clarifications provided by Utah appellate courts.