The Appellate Group

State v. Wall

State v. Wall, 2020 UT App 168 (Christiansen Forster, J.)


The defendant got into a fight with Victim. Prior to trial, the defendant’s counsel’s diligence in representing the defendant was less than exemplary, missing several hearings and not responding to discovery requests. At trial, the defendant testified that he hit Victim several times in self-defense, and Victim testified that the defendant’s attack was unprovoked. The jury found the defendant guilty of assault. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  1. Even if the defendant’s attorney performed deficiently by not calling certain witnesses to support the defendant’s claim of self-defense, the defendant was not prejudiced because of the evidence at trial that the defendant’s response to Victim’s aggression was disproportionate. 
  2. Although the defendant’s attorney was disengaged during the pretrial process, the defendant did not show how those actions prejudiced him at trial.
  3. The jury instructions on self-defense accurately reflected the law.
  4. The defendant’s attorney’s decision to have the defendant testify was within the wide range of reasonable assistance, and the attorney’s closing argument did not support an ineffectiveness claim.

Read the full court opinion