State v. Hankerson

Decision Date05 August 2005
Docket NumberNo. 20040099.,20040099.
Citation122 P.3d 561,2005 UT 47
PartiesSTATE of Utah, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Enoch HANKERSON, Defendant and Petitioner.
CourtUtah Supreme Court

Mark L. Shurtleff, Att'y Gen., Kris C. Leonard, Asst. Att'y Gen., for plaintiff.

Lori Seppi, Heather Johnson, Robert Heineman, Salt Lake City, for defendant.

On Certiorari to the Utah Court of Appeals

DURHAM, Chief Justice:

¶ 1 We granted certiorari in this case to review the court of appeals' denial of a criminal defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to the state's speedy trial statute, Utah Code Ann. § 77-29-1(4) (2003). We conclude that the court of appeals erred in holding that the defendant's motion to dismiss tolled the speedy trial time limit where the motion did not cause a delay in the trial.

BACKGROUND

¶ 2 The relevant facts are set forth in the court of appeals' opinion, as follows:

On March 24, 2002, while in prison, [defendant Enoch] Hankerson executed a "Notice and Request for Disposition of Pending Charge(s)" pursuant to the Speedy Trial Statute. The Division of Institutional Operations of the Department of Corrections (the DIO) received this notice on April 9. The DIO marked the notice "void" and returned it to Hankerson because he had insufficient funds in his prison account to pay for the cost of mailing it and did not satisfy the requirements of the DIO's "indigent policy." On April 15, Hankerson executed a second "Notice and Request for Disposition of Pending Charge(s)" pursuant to the Speedy Trial Statute, which the DIO received on April 19. The DIO rejected this notice and returned it to Hankerson, for the same reason it had done so with the first notice. On May 9, Hankerson executed a third "Notice and Request for Disposition of Pending Charge(s)" pursuant to the Speedy Trial Statute, which the DIO received on May 17 and forwarded in accordance with the Speedy Trial Statute.

At the July 30 pretrial conference, Hankerson's counsel informed the trial court for the first time that Hankerson had filed three separate disposition notices under the Speedy Trial Statute. To this point, the State had been relying upon Hankerson's third disposition notice, which had an effective date of May 17. Relying upon Hankerson's first disposition notice, which had an effective date of April 9, Hankerson's counsel notified the trial court of his intention to file a motion to dismiss under the Speedy Trial Statute. Hankerson's counsel subsequently filed the motion to dismiss on August 2 and the trial court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion on August 9. After conducting the evidentiary hearing, the trial court ruled that Hankerson's first disposition notice was proper and that it was the controlling notice under the Speedy Trial Statute. However, the trial court denied Hankerson's motion to dismiss, partly based upon its determination that the disposition period under the Speedy Trial Statute was extended by the number of days from July 30, 2002, to August 9, 2002, because [Hankerson] filed a Motion To Dismiss and requested a hearing on such Motion.

State v. Hankerson, 2003 UT App 433, ¶¶ 3-5, 82 P.3d 1155 (footnotes and internal quotation omitted). Specifically, the trial court's order denying Hankerson's motion stated:

4. The Court finds that the 120 day time period was tolled from July 30, 2002, to August 9, 2002, because the Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss and requested a hearing on such Motion.

5. The Court finds that good cause exists to extend the time within which to allow the State of Utah to prosecute this matter beyond August [7], 2002, because the Defendant's subsequent filings of 120 day dispositions caused confusion about the time period within which the Defendant was to [be] tried.

¶ 3 Hankerson's trial was held on August 14-15, 2002. Following his conviction, Hankerson appealed the trial court's denial of his motion to dismiss. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's ruling on the basis that, under its own decision in State v. Coleman, 2001 UT App 281, 34 P.3d 790, Hankerson's filing of a motion to dismiss tolled the 120-day period set by the speedy trial statute for bringing his case to trial. Hankerson, 2003 UT App 433 at ¶ 13, 82 P.3d 1155. This court granted certiorari to determine whether Hankerson's filing of a motion to dismiss "should be deemed to toll the running of the 120-day disposition deadline set forth by [the speedy trial statute,] section 77-29-1 of the Utah Code."

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 4 "On certiorari, we review the decision of the court of appeals, not the decision of the trial court." State v. Harmon, 910 P.2d 1196, 1199 (Utah 1995). We examine the court of appeals' decision to determine "whether that court accurately reviewed the trial court's decision under the appropriate standard of review." State v. Visser, 2000 UT 88, ¶ 9, 22 P.3d 1242. Here, the court of appeals used an abuse of discretion standard in reviewing the trial court's determination that Hankerson's charges should not be dismissed pursuant to the speedy trial statute, Utah Code Ann. § 77-29-1(4) (2003). Hankerson, 2003 UT App 433 at ¶ 7, 82 P.3d 1155. We have previously held that section 77-29-1(4) does "grant[] discretion to the trial court . . . . to make reasonable determinations concerning the existence of good cause" excusing the failure to bring a charge to trial within the required time. State v. Petersen, 810 P.2d 421, 424-25 (Utah 1991). However, "legal determinations concerning the proper interpretation of the statute which grants the trial court discretion [must be] reviewed for correctness." Id. at 425. Here, we determine that the court of appeals made a legal error in interpreting section 77-29-1(4) and the applicable precedent from this court.

ANALYSIS

¶ 5 The sole issue before us is whether Hankerson's motion to dismiss is sufficient to toll the 120-day period in which the state is required to bring a charge to trial under the speedy trial statute, Utah Code Ann. § 77-29-1 (2003). That statute provides, in relevant part:

(1) Whenever a prisoner is serving a term of imprisonment in the state prison, jail or other penal or correctional institution of this state, and there is pending against the prisoner in this state any untried indictment or information, and the prisoner shall deliver to the warden, sheriff or custodial officer in authority, or any appropriate agent of the same, a written demand specifying the nature of the charge and the court wherein it is pending and requesting disposition of the pending charge, he shall be entitled to have the charge brought to trial within 120 days of the date of delivery of written notice.

. . . .

(4) In the event the charge is not brought to trial within 120 days, or within such continuance as has been granted, and defendant or his counsel moves to dismiss the action, the court shall review the proceeding. If the court finds that the failure of the prosecuting attorney to have the matter heard within the time required is not supported by good cause, whether a previous motion for continuance was made or not, the court shall order the matter dismissed with prejudice.

Id. § 77-29-1(1), (4).

¶ 6 We have previously set forth a two-step inquiry for determining whether the state's failure to bring a case to trial within the 120-day period mandated by the speedy trial statute requires dismissal under section 77-29-1(4). State v. Heaton, 958 P.2d 911, 916 (Utah 1998). "First [a court] must determine when the 120-day period commenced and when it expired. Second, if the trial was held outside the 120-day period, [the court] must then determine whether `good cause' excused the delay." Id. In the absence of good cause, section 77-29-1(4) requires the court to grant the defendant's motion to dismiss.

¶ 7 Here, the trial court concluded, and it is undisputed on appeal, that the 120-day period commenced when Hankerson delivered his first notice and request for disposition of the charges against him to the DIO, notwithstanding the DIO's failure to forward the notice to the prosecutor.1 Thus, the 120-day period was due to expire on August 7, 2002. Hankerson's trial, held on August 14-15, was clearly outside this 120-day period. The trial court was therefore required to grant Hankerson's motion to dismiss unless it determined that good cause excused the delay in holding the trial.

¶ 8 As indicated above, the trial court's denial of Hankerson's motion to dismiss was partly based on its conclusion that "the 120 day time period was tolled from July 30, 2002, to August, 9, 2002, because the Defendant filed a Motion To Dismiss and requested a hearing on such Motion." The trial court did not include in its order any explicit finding that Hankerson's filing of the motion to dismiss actually caused a delay in the trial. However, the court of appeals interpreted the trial court's conclusion as "[i]n effect" determining that "the delay attributable to Hankerson's motion to dismiss extended the 120-day period by ten days." Hankerson, 2003 UT App 433 at ¶ 12, 82 P.3d 1155. The court of appeals then cited its prior decision in State v. Coleman, 2001 UT App 281, ¶ 11, 34 P.3d 790, for the proposition that "`a "delay caused to hear a defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of speedy trial" constitutes good cause excusing the prosecution's failure' to bring that defendant to trial within the 120-day period." Hankerson, 2003 UT App 433 at ¶ 13, 82 P.3d 1155 (alteration marks omitted) (quoting Coleman, 2001 UT App 281 at ¶ 11, 34 P.3d 790 (quoting State v. Banner, 717 P.2d 1325, 1329-30 (Utah 1986))). Based on this rule, the court of appeals concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Hankerson's motion to dismiss. Id. at ¶¶ 13-14, 82 P.3d 1155.

¶ 9 Although the proposition suggested in Coleman is not necessarily incorrect, the court of appeals in both Coleman and the instant case has misinterpreted the true import of the phrase "delay caused to hear a...

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3 cases
  • State v. Mahi
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • November 10, 2005
    ...dismissal was required under section 77-29-1. First, we "must determine when the 120-day period commenced and when it expired." State v. Hankerson, 2005 UT 47, ¶ 6, 531 Utah Adv. Rep. 7 (quotations and citation omitted). Second, if it is determined that the trial was held outside the 120-da......
  • State v. Rich, 20050264-CA.
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    • Utah Court of Appeals
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    ...comply with section 77-29-1(1), the trial court abused its discretion in failing to hold that "good cause excused the delay." State v. Hankerson, 2005 UT 47, ¶¶ 4, 6, 122 P.3d 561 (quotations and citation omitted). Section 77-29-1(4) requires that after Defendant submits a proper DR, the co......
  • State v. Hankerson, 20020974-CA.
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • September 15, 2005
    ...and ORME, JJ. MEMORANDUM DECISION DAVIS, Judge: ¶ 1 This case is before us on remand from the Utah Supreme Court. In State v. Hankerson, 2005 UT 47, 531 Utah Adv. Rep. 7, the supreme court reversed the appeals court determination that Defendant's motion to dismiss tolled the 120-day speedy ......

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