State v. Prion

Decision Date20 March 2012
Docket NumberNo. 20090839.,20090839.
Citation2012 UT 15,274 P.3d 919
PartiesSTATE of Utah, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Lemuel PRION, Defendant and Petitioner.
CourtUtah Supreme Court

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Mark L. Shurtleff, Att'y Gen., Kris C. Leonard, Asst. Att'y Gen., Salt Lake City, Joann Stringham, Uinta County, for plaintiff.

Michael D. Zimmerman, Troy L. Booher, Michael J. Thomas, Salt Lake City, for defendant.

Justice LEE, opinion of the Court:

¶ 1 Lemuel Prion pled guilty and mentally ill to three felony charges in August 1994, pursuant to Utah Code section 77–16a–104(3).1 Under the provisions of the statute, Prion was first sentenced to three terms of varying length, all to be served concurrently. As a part of this first sentence, Prion was committed to the Utah State Hospital for evaluation. After a stay of several months, Prion was released and reappeared before the district court for resentencing. Based on the recommendations of the mental health facility staff and administration, the district court resentenced Prion to serve his three terms consecutively, nearly doubling his prison time.

¶ 2 Claiming that his second sentence was statutorily barred and violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution, Prion moved the district court to correct his sentence under rule 22(e) of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure. The district court denied the motion, and the Utah Court of Appeals affirmed that decision in an unpublished per curiam decision.

¶ 3 On certiorari we conclude that, although the sentencing statute at issue expressly allows for a recall and resentencing at any time during an eighteen-month review period, Prion's resentencing exceeded the bounds of the Double Jeopardy Clause in light of the nature and timeframe of this proceeding. Accordingly, we reverse the court of appeals and remand to the district court for further proceedings.

I

¶ 4 In August 1994, Lemuel Prion pled guilty and mentally ill to three felony charges stemming from two separate criminal cases. He pled guilty to possession of a dangerous weapon in a correctional facility, a second degree felony, in the first case; and aggravated assault and dealer in possession without affixing a tax stamp, both third degree felonies, in the second case.

¶ 5 On September 1, 1994, the district court conducted a plea hearing to ascertain, among other things, Prion's mental state under the Utah Code's guilty and mentally ill (GAMI) provisions. Utah Code §§ 77–16a–101 to –104, –202 (1994). Following expert testimony on Prion's mental health and medication history, the district court found that Prion posed an “immediate physical danger to himself or others, including jeopardizing his own or others' safety, health, or welfare if placed in a correctional or probation setting, or lacks the ability to provide the basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and shelter, if placed on probation.” The court further found that “until [Prion's] medication [was] regulated he [could not] be committed to the Department of Corrections.”

¶ 6 Pursuant to the GAMI statute, the district court sentenced Prion to three separate terms of 5 years, 0 to 5 years, and 1 to 15 years, disregarding his mental illness. See Utah Code § 77–16a–104(3) (1994).2 Having imposed the sentence terms, the court thereafter ordered that Prion would serve his terms concurrently, amounting to a maximum of 15 years.

¶ 7 As a part of his GAMI sentence, the court also ordered that Prion be committed to the Utah State Hospital for care and treatment for a period of “no more than 18 months, or until he has reached maximum benefit.” See id. § 77–16a–202(1)(b) (1994).3 The district court expressly retained jurisdiction of the case “to alter or amend its order” and indicated that, following his commitment period with the State Hospital, Prion would again be brought before the court for reconsideration of his sentence. See id. (stating that after the offender's time at the department for care and treatment expires, “the court may recall the sentence and commitment, and resentence the offender”).

¶ 8 Five months later, in January 1995, Prion was released from the State Hospital. In conjunction with this release, the hospital submitted a written report to the district court indicating that Prion had reached “maximum hospital benefit” and recommending that Prion “be engaged in some type of sex offender program.” The report was accompanied by a “Review and Recommendation,” outlining Prion's diagnosis, his violent behavior (including threats to patients and staff), his failure to cooperate with counseling, and the staff's general belief that he was “very dangerous.”

¶ 9 Following his release from the State Hospital, Prion appeared before the district court for resentencing on March 14, 1995. Based on its review of the State Hospital's reports and recommendations and Prion's history, the district court found that Prion posed a serious threat of violent behavior and criminal conduct and that his “attitude [was] not conducive to supervision.” In light of these findings, the district court reimposed the same prison terms, but ordered that they run consecutively instead of concurrently. In doing so, the district court effectively increased Prion's maximum sentence from fifteen years to twenty-five years.

¶ 10 Nearly fifteen years later, on January 16, 2009, Prion filed a motion under rule 22(e) of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure seeking to vacate his second sentence. Prion argued that his second sentence was illegally imposed because (1) the court lacked statutory authority to increase his sentence following imposition of the first sentence and (2) the second sentence violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution. The district court denied Prion's motion, reasoning that “the Double Jeopardy Clause only protects against re-sentencing when the defendant reasonably believes the original sentence is final,” citing State v. Maguire, 1999 UT App 45, 975 P.2d 476. Since the GAMI statute specifically permits a court to recall and resentence the offender after his commitment at the State Hospital (a period of up to eighteen months), the court concluded that Prion had no legitimate expectation that his September 1994 sentence was final and therefore could lay no claim to double jeopardy.

¶ 11 In an unpublished per curiam decision, the court of appeals affirmed the denial of Prion's motion. State v. Prion, 2009 UT App 219U, 2009 WL 2469542 (per curiam). Following the same logic employed by the district court, the court of appeals reiterated that the Double Jeopardy Clause ‘only proscribes resentencing where the defendant has developed a legitimate expectation of the finality in his original sentence.’ Id. at para. 3 (quoting Maguire, 1999 UT App 45, ¶ 8, 975 P.2d 476). Without that expectation of finality, the court of appeals reasoned, “there can be no violation of double jeopardy protections.” Id.

¶ 12 The court of appeals therefore concluded that, because the GAMI statute allowed the district court to retain jurisdiction to alter or amend its original sentence and because the district court's order “expressly indicated that Prion's sentence would be reconsidered” upon his release from the State Hospital, Prion could not have legitimately expected that the September 1, 1994 order constituted his final sentence. Id. para. 4. Accordingly, the court of appeals affirmed the district court's denial of Prion's rule 22(e) motion.

¶ 13 Prion filed a petition for certiorari, which we granted. On certiorari, we owe no deference to the court of appeals. State v. Arave, 2011 UT 84, ¶ 24 & n. 9, 268 P.3d 163. Prion's claims that his sentence violates both the GAMI statutory regime and the double jeopardy protections of the United States Constitution present questions of law, which we review for correctness. See State v. Samora, 2004 UT 79, ¶ 9, 99 P.3d 858.

II

¶ 14 Prion challenges the district court's denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence on both statutory and constitutional grounds. He contends that the State lacked statutory authority to increase his sentence when it resentenced him and also asserts that an increase constitutes multiple punishment in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause.

¶ 15 The State disagrees on both counts. It also asks us to affirm on an alternative, procedural ground—that rule 22(e) is not an appropriate vehicle for Prion's challenges to the legality of his sentence.

¶ 16 We uphold the procedural propriety of Prion's motion and acknowledge that the statute purports to allow a court to increase a mentally ill defendant's sentence on resentencing. We reverse on constitutional grounds, however, holding that an increase in a mentally ill defendant's sentence on resentencing under the GAMI statute infringes the defendant's rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

A

¶ 17 The State challenges Prion's motion on the procedural ground that under State v. Candedo, 2010 UT 32, 232 P.3d 1008, rule 22(e) motions should be limited to the correction of sentences that are “patently” or “manifestly” illegal. See id. ¶ 9 (citing State v. Brooks, 908 P.2d 856, 860 (Utah 1995), and State v. Telford, 2002 UT 51, ¶ 5, 48 P.3d 228). In the State's view, rule 22(e) should be reserved for the correction of sentences that are imposed outside the range authorized by statute or beyond the court's jurisdiction. Because Prion's sentence was authorized by statute and the district court had jurisdiction, the State asks us to affirm on the alternative procedural ground that rule 22(e) does not encompass challenges like the ones asserted by Prion.

¶ 18 In advancing this argument, the State acknowledges broad language in Candedo concluding that an “illegal sentence under rule 22(e) includes constitutional violations,” id. ¶ 11, but suggests that we construe that language narrowly in a way that forecloses its invocation by Prion, id. ¶ 9 (noting that rule 22(e) c...

To continue reading

Request your trial
11 cases
  • State v. Houston
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • February 24, 2015
    ...arguments concerning the constitutionality of the sentence, even if unpreserved.27 ¶ 23 We again considered the scope of rule 22(e) in State v. Prion, a case in which the defendant raised statutory and double jeopardy challenges to his sentence.28 We recognized that the Candedo “formulati......
  • State v. Houston
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • February 24, 2015
    ...arguments concerning the constitutionality of the sentence, even if unpreserved.27 ¶ 23 We again considered the scope of rule 22(e) in State v. Prion, a case in which the defendant raised statutory and double jeopardy challenges to his sentence.28 We recognized that the Candedo "formulati......
  • State v. Rasabout
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • August 14, 2015
    ... ... for adequate framing and briefing of state constitutional issues, but a clearly raised and differentiated argument will likely include a separate section of analysis that begins with the text of the state constitutional provision. Id. 37. 53 U.S. Const.amend. V. 54 State v. Prion, 2012 UT 15, 30, 274 P.3d 919 (quoting North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969) ). 55 Morrison, 2001 UT 73, 2426, 31 P.3d 547. 56 Utah Code 761401 ; see id. 761402 to 405. 57 Id. 761402(1) (emphasis added). 58 Id. 761402(2) (emphasis ... ...
  • Oseguera v. State
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • July 29, 2014
    ... ... State, 2005 UT 56, ¶ 14, 128 P.3d 1123.        4.Id.        5.O'Dea v. Olea, 2009 UT 46, ¶ 15, 217 P.3d 704.        6.Winward v. State, 2012 UT 85, ¶ 9, 293 P.3d 259 (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted).        7.State v. Prion, 2012 UT 15, ¶ 19, 274 P.3d 919; see also Winward, 2012 UT 85, ¶ 9, 293 P.3d 259; State v. Holgate, 2000 UT 74, ¶ 11, 10 P.3d 346.        8.Prion, 2012 UT 15, ¶ 19, 274 P.3d 919; Holgate, 2000 UT 74, ¶ 11, 10 P.3d 346.        9.Gressman v. State, 2013 UT 63, ¶ 45, 323 P.3d 998 ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT