The Appellate Group

State v. Pullman

State v. Pullman, 2023 UT App 28 (Mortensen, J.)


The State charged the defendant after the defendant’s father alleged that she had stolen his car. On appeal, the defendant produced evidence that the father had sold the car to a couple after the defendant had allegedly stolen the car, and she argued that her trial counsel was ineffective for not presenting that evidence at trial. After a rule 23B remand hearing, the Utah Court of Appeals reversed, holding:

  • Counsel performed deficiently by not investigating witnesses or obtaining the car title, which showed that the father sold the car to another couple; this evidence was significant and available to counsel. 
  • Counsel’s failure to investigate harmed the defendant, because the trial was largely a credibility contest between the defendant and her father. The missing evidence supported the defendant’s testimony.

Read the full court opinion