The Appellate Group

Utah v. Samora

Utah v. Samora, 2022 UT App 7 (Orme, J., majority; Mortensen, J., concurring; Harris, J., concurring)

Criminal Law

After multiple delays and continuances, Defendant was convicted of attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a restricted person. Defendant raised multiple unpreserved issues on appeal, including that the district court erred in not ruling, sua sponte, that he had been deprived of his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • While Defendant showed under Barker that the length of time between charges and the beginning of the trial – here, eighteen months – was “presumptively prejudicial” (e.g., over a year), Defendant did not convince the Court under the Barker balancing test that his Sixth Amendment rights were violated.
  • Under this balancing test, a defendant must show that the scales tip toward injustice based on the length of the delay, reason for the delay, the defendant’s assertion of his right, and prejudice to the defendant. Here, the Court held that the length of the delay – six months – was reasonable due to the magnitude of this case. And, because Defendant’s own continuance requests resulted in delaying the trial by nearly nine and a half months, the Court held the reason for the delay was largely attributable to the Defendant. Thus, while Defendant invoked his right to a speedy trial, the delays were mostly caused by Defendant himself, which means that there was little prejudice to Defendant.

Read the full court opinion