State v. Blake, 20200675-CA

CourtCourt of Appeals of Utah
Writing for the CourtPOHLMAN, JUDGE
PartiesState of Utah, Appellee, v. Shon Brian Blake, Appellant.
Docket Number20200675-CA
Decision Date18 August 2022

2022 UT App 104

State of Utah, Appellee,
v.

Shon Brian Blake, Appellant.

No. 20200675-CA

Court of Appeals of Utah

August 18, 2022


Fourth District Court, Provo Department The Honorable Kraig Powell No. 191400656

Douglas J. Thompson, Attorney for Appellant

Sean D. Reyes, Kris C. Leonard, and William M. Hains, Attorneys for Appellee

Judge Jill M. Pohlman authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele M. Christiansen Forster and Ryan D. Tenney concurred.

OPINION

POHLMAN, JUDGE

¶1 Shon Brian Blake appeals the district court's Order of Restitution. Blake argues that the court abused its discretion in ordering restitution for medical bills because there was insufficient evidence to support a determination that his criminal conduct proximately caused the medical services generically identified in those bills. We agree and reverse.

BACKGROUND

¶2 On February 12, 2019, Blake was involved in a confrontation with his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.

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During the confrontation, Blake shot at the ex-girlfriend's car and then at the boyfriend. The shots hit the boyfriend twice in the arm, and he was taken to the hospital, where he had surgery to remove one of the bullets and repair the damage to his arm.

¶3 Blake was charged with attempted murder, felony criminal mischief (domestic violence), five counts of felony discharge of a firearm, and misdemeanor criminal mischief. As a result of plea negotiations, the charges were reduced to aggravated assault, felony criminal mischief (domestic violence), and one count of felony discharge of a firearm. Blake pleaded guilty to the reduced charges, acknowledging that he had shot the boyfriend in the arm. The district court sentenced Blake to concurrent prison terms, ordered $500 in restitution for damage to the car, and held restitution open for one year to allow additional claims to be submitted.

¶4 Within that year, the State filed a motion to amend the restitution amount to include restitution to cover $36,701.56 that the Utah Office for Victims of Crime (UOVC) had allegedly paid for the boyfriend's medical bills. The State supported the motion with an attached list of payments, setting forth seven separate payments allegedly made to cover twenty-two medical claims with service dates from February 12 to 14, 2019. The list did not identify what services were provided or by whom; instead, the amounts were simply labeled "Medical" or "Medical Facility."

¶5 Blake objected to the motion, contesting the restitution amount and requesting a hearing on the matter. At the hearing, Blake argued that because the payment amounts were described only as "Medical" or "Medical Facility," he was "unable to determine what the specific claim was, where it came from, or how it was related to the case." Therefore, Blake argued, the payment list was insufficient to support the requested order of restitution.

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¶6 The State was joined by two representatives from UOVC to explain the standard processes the office usually employed before authorizing any payment.[1] Neither representative had personal knowledge regarding the payments in question, but they explained that before UOVC would authorize a payment, a claims analyst would review the invoices and check the dates as well as the procedural and diagnostic codes to verify that the treatment received was "crime-related." One of the representatives also stated that the payment list did not include the names of the treating physicians or facilities or the related codes that would describe the relevant medical procedures because the document had been redacted due to its status as a protected record under the Government Records Access and Management Act, see Utah Code Ann. §§ 63G-2-101 to -901 (LexisNexis 2019 & Supp. 2021). The representative conceded, however, that there were ways to allow disclosure of this information in the event it was needed. Nonetheless, the State continued to assert that the payment list was "proof enough" that the payment amounts were related to services proximately caused by Blake's criminal conduct.

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¶7 The district court agreed with the State, relying on the facts that the crime victim was identified on the statement as the recipient of the medical care, that "the dates of service correspond to roughly the time of the alleged injuries in the crime," and that "statutory procedures for making payment to claimants [have] been followed in this case." On this basis, the court determined that "the medical bills arise from the crime in this case." The court then set complete restitution at $36,701.56 and imposed court-ordered restitution of $18,350.78.[2] Blake now appeals.

ISSUE AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶8 Blake contends that the district court abused its discretion by ordering restitution where the State did not present sufficient evidence to link his admitted criminal conduct to the requested restitution amounts. "We will not disturb a district court's restitution determination unless the court exceeds the authority prescribed by law or abuses its discretion." State v. Ogden, 2018 UT 8, ¶ 25, 416 P.3d 1132 (cleaned up).

ANALYSIS

¶9 Under the Crime Victims Restitution Act, the district court is required to determine restitution for any pecuniary damages proximately caused by the defendant's criminal conduct. See Utah

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Code Ann. § 77-38a-302(1) (LexisNexis 2017) ("When a defendant enters into a plea disposition or is...

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