State v. Martinez-Castellanos, No. 20130432-CA

CourtUtah Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtROTH, Judge
Citation389 P.3d 432
Parties STATE of Utah, Appellee, v. Abisai MARTINEZ-CASTELLANOS, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 20130432-CA
Decision Date20 January 2017

389 P.3d 432

STATE of Utah, Appellee,
v.
Abisai MARTINEZ-CASTELLANOS, Appellant.

No. 20130432-CA

Court of Appeals of Utah.

Filed January 20, 2017


Linda M. Jones, Salt Lake City and Noella A. Sudbury, Attorneys for Appellant.

Sean D. Reyes and Christopher D. Ballard, Salt Lake City, Attorneys for Appellee.

Judge Stephen L. Roth authored this Opinion, in which Judge Kate A. Toomey concurred. Judge Gregory K. Orme concurred in part and concurred in the result in part, with opinion, to which Judge Roth filed a separate response.

Opinion

ROTH, Judge:

¶1 Abisai Martinez-Castellanos appeals his convictions for two counts of possession or use of a controlled substance, Utah Code Ann. § 58-37-8(2)(b)(ii) (LexisNexis 2012), one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, id. § 58-37a-5, and one count of driving with a controlled substance in the body, id. § 41-6a-517 (2014). Because of the cumulative effect of several errors, our confidence that Martinez-Castellanos received a fair trial is undermined. We vacate his convictions and remand for a new trial.

BACKGROUND1

The Traffic Stop

¶2 In June 2010, Martinez-Castellanos was driving his car on Interstate 15 in central Utah. From the other side of the interstate where he was completing a traffic stop, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper observed Martinez-Castellanos' car traveling northbound. The trooper got in his patrol car and, without turning off his emergency lights from the prior stop, crossed the median and accelerated

389 P.3d 437

to close the distance between himself and Martinez-Castellanos. When he got closer, the trooper saw that Martinez-Castellanos had California license plates and that the rear license plate had only one registration sticker. According to the trooper, California law required two registration stickers on the license plate—one for the month and one for the year.

¶3 When Martinez-Castellanos saw the trooper's patrol car with its emergency lights engaged, he pulled his car over to the side of the road. Martinez-Castellanos provided the trooper with his driver license, registration, and proof of insurance. The trooper took the information to his patrol car and checked it. He also ran a warrants check and a background check for criminal history.

¶4 The trooper learned that, although Martinez-Castellanos had not properly affixed a registration sticker to the license plate, the registration was valid. He also learned that Martinez-Castellanos had miscellaneous theft charges dating back to 1997 and charges for drug offenses in 2001 and 2006, with a probation revocation for possession of a controlled substance. The trooper testified that this information, along with Martinez-Castellanos' rapid speech and movements, "heightened" his suspicions that Martinez-Castellanos "might be [under] the influence of something."

¶5 The trooper returned to the car and asked Martinez-Castellanos to step out so that he could conduct field sobriety tests. The trooper also asked if Martinez-Castellanos had any weapons in the car, to which he responded that there were knives in the center console. Based on field sobriety tests, the trooper concluded that Martinez-Castellanos was under the influence of a controlled substance, and based on Martinez-Castellanos' criminal history, the trooper believed that he was a restricted person who could not legally possess knives. The trooper arrested Martinez-Castellanos and searched his car. The trooper found two pocket knives, a marijuana grinder, a lighter, two glass pipes, a wrapper containing three pills that later tested positive for hydrocodone, another wrapper containing a "white, crystal-like substance" that later tested positive for methamphetamine, and a wrapper containing seven prescription pills. Later, at the jail, Martinez-Castellanos admitted the he had smoked marijuana but refused to submit to a urine test. The trooper obtained a warrant for a blood draw, which tested positive for a marijuana metabolite at a level consistent with recent marijuana use.

The Motion to Suppress

¶6 Before trial, Martinez-Castellanos' trial counsel moved to suppress the evidence from the car and the blood draw, arguing that the "evidence was seized in violation of [Martinez-Castellanos'] constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure." The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion and the trooper testified for the prosecution and was cross-examined by trial counsel. Prior to the hearing, trial counsel had not requested or reviewed the dash-cam video of the traffic stop. At the end of the hearing, trial counsel requested a copy of the video as well as thirty days to "submit a brief on the matter," and the trial court set a briefing schedule. Trial counsel did not timely file a brief, but about a week after it was due submitted a motion "request[ing] additional time in which to file his brief regarding the suppression of evidence." The court granted the motion but trial counsel again failed to file a brief in support of his motion to suppress. The following month, having received nothing from defendant's trial counsel, the prosecution submitted its own memorandum in opposition to the motion to suppress, to which trial counsel did not respond. The district court eventually ruled on the motion to suppress stating that, "having reviewed testimony given and [the] memorandum provided [by the State], the Motion to Suppress is hereby denied."

¶7 Nearly two weeks later, trial counsel moved to set aside that decision and again requested additional time to file a supporting memorandum. The motion was accompanied by a transcript of the hearing on the motion to suppress. The district court granted the request and gave trial counsel an additional week to file his supporting memorandum. On the due date, trial counsel again failed to file a memorandum in support of the motion to suppress. Instead, counsel filed a motion captioned

389 P.3d 438

"Submission of Motion to Suppress," which stated in its entirety,

Comes now the Defendant by and through his legal counsel and submits the Motion to Suppress Evidence to the Court based upon the transcript of the suppression hearing which has now been completed and provided to the Court and on the Memorandum provided to the Court by ... [the] Deputy Juab County Attorney.

¶8 The trial court then entered an order reinstating its prior decision explaining that, "having received no memorandum in support of defendant's motion to dismiss by the date authorized, the Court reinstates its prior order denying defendant's motion to suppress."

¶9 Trial counsel later filed two more motions to suppress the evidence from the traffic stop, one at the beginning of trial and one after trial was complete, again without supporting memoranda. The prosecution opposed those motions as untimely and deficient under the Rules of Criminal Procedure. The trial court ultimately denied both motions.

Jury Selection and Trial

¶10 Before trial began, the trial court had a twenty-six member jury venire fill out juror questionnaires. After the questionnaires were completed the trial court asked the venire members additional "yes" or "no" background questions about matters that might influence their attitudes and opinions regarding the case. Before beginning the questioning, the court advised the venire members that it would "not ... ask you to describe anything in open court right now," but that the attorneys "may ... want to ask you more questions about that [affirmative answer] later" and that "[w]e'll go into a place where we can have some privacy and discuss it." The trial court then asked approximately ten questions, three of which are pertinent here: (1) whether "you, a family member, or close friend [have] been a victim of a crime"; (2) whether "you, a family member, or close personal friend [have] been involved with the same kind of conduct that is being discussed in this case"; and (3) whether "you[,] ... a family member[,] or a close personal friend ... is a law enforcement officer or works for a law enforcement department." After completing these background questions, the court stated,

Counsel, that concludes the voir dire that I'm going to conduct in court. For members of the prospective jury, I'm going to take a break now and meet with counsel in my chambers, and they will determine any additional questions that they'd like to ask. They may ask questions of each of you or only some of you.... I will be in a brief recess until we come back in, which may be in a few minutes. Counsel, if you'll just join me back in my chambers, I'd appreciate it.

Martinez-Castellanos was not invited into chambers by either the court or his counsel, and he remained in the courtroom while further questioning of individual venire members took place.

¶11 In chambers, the court asked the attorneys if they had questions for any of the individual venire members. The court then individually called those identified into chambers. However, the courtroom microphone was left on during the entire process, rendering the audio recording of the in-chambers questioning unintelligible. Because no transcript or record was available for the portions of the voir dire that...

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5 practice notes
  • State v. Martinez-Castellanos, No. 20170323
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • August 29, 2018
    ...reconstructed record here for what occurred during the in-chambers voir dire.3 State v. Martinez-Castellanos , 2017 UT App 13, ¶¶ 78, 80, 389 P.3d 432.4 Id. ¶ 32.5 Id. ¶ 51 (citing State v. King , 2008 UT 54, ¶ 28, 190 P.3d 1283 ).6 Id. ¶ 58.7 Id. ¶ 60.8 Id.9 Id. (quoting Strickland v. Wash......
  • State v. Martinez-Castellanos, No. 20130432-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • April 4, 2019
    ...court denied the motion.¶23 Martinez-Castellanos appealed his convictions to this court. State v. Martinez-Castellanos , 2017 UT App 13, 389 P.3d 432, rev’d , 2018 UT 46, 428 P.3d 1038. He raised three issues. First, he argued "he was denied the right to participate in the jury-selection pr......
  • State v. Robertson, No. 20150859-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • May 17, 2018
    ...potential jurors might be put off by the defendant’s appearance or demeanor," see State v. Martinez–Castellanos , 2017 UT App 13, ¶ 47, 389 P.3d 432, cert. granted , 400 P.3d 1045 (Utah 2017), or that potential jurors would be more candid without Defendant present, see United States v. Bert......
  • State v. Wood, No. 20160478-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • June 1, 2018
    ...performance in failing to request concurrent sentences was harmful. See 427 P.3d 456 State v. Martinez-Castellanos , 2017 UT App 13, ¶ 28, 389 P.3d 432 ("To succeed on his plain error claim, [a defendant] must demonstrate that an error occurred, the error was or should have been obvious, an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • State v. Martinez-Castellanos, No. 20170323
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • August 29, 2018
    ...reconstructed record here for what occurred during the in-chambers voir dire.3 State v. Martinez-Castellanos , 2017 UT App 13, ¶¶ 78, 80, 389 P.3d 432.4 Id. ¶ 32.5 Id. ¶ 51 (citing State v. King , 2008 UT 54, ¶ 28, 190 P.3d 1283 ).6 Id. ¶ 58.7 Id. ¶ 60.8 Id.9 Id. (quoting Strickland v. Wash......
  • State v. Martinez-Castellanos, No. 20130432-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • April 4, 2019
    ...court denied the motion.¶23 Martinez-Castellanos appealed his convictions to this court. State v. Martinez-Castellanos , 2017 UT App 13, 389 P.3d 432, rev’d , 2018 UT 46, 428 P.3d 1038. He raised three issues. First, he argued "he was denied the right to participate in the jury-selection pr......
  • State v. Robertson, No. 20150859-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • May 17, 2018
    ...potential jurors might be put off by the defendant’s appearance or demeanor," see State v. Martinez–Castellanos , 2017 UT App 13, ¶ 47, 389 P.3d 432, cert. granted , 400 P.3d 1045 (Utah 2017), or that potential jurors would be more candid without Defendant present, see United States v. Bert......
  • State v. Wood, No. 20160478-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • June 1, 2018
    ...performance in failing to request concurrent sentences was harmful. See 427 P.3d 456 State v. Martinez-Castellanos , 2017 UT App 13, ¶ 28, 389 P.3d 432 ("To succeed on his plain error claim, [a defendant] must demonstrate that an error occurred, the error was or should have been obvious, an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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