South Salt Lake City v. Hendrikx

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City of South Salt Lake v. Hendrikx. Filed April 22, 1999 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS


City of South Salt Lake,
Plaintiff and Appellee,


Gordon Hendrikx,
Defendant and Appellant.

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 990233-CA

April 22, 1999
  1999 UT App 133 -----

Third District, Murray Department
The Honorable Joseph C. Fratto

Gordon Hendrikx, West Valley City, Appellant Pro Se
H. Craig Hall and Matthew B. Janzen, Salt Lake City, for Appellee


Before Judges Greenwood, Davis, and Jackson.


This matter is before the court on its own motion for summary dismissal on the ground that the court lacks jurisdiction over a case originating in the justice court. The motion is granted and the appeal is dismissed.

Utah Code Ann. § 78-5-120 (Supp. 1998) and Utah R. Crim. P. 26(12) provide that a person not satisfied with a judgment rendered in the justice court is entitled to a trial de novo in the district court, and that the judgment of the district court after trial de novo is final and may not be appealed unless the constitutionality of a statute or rule is raised and ruled upon. Appellate courts have unwaveringly held that these provisions and their predecessors divest this court of jurisdiction to hear an appeal from proceedings in the district court held pursuant to an appeal from the justice court unless the issues raised in the justice and/or district court involve the validity or constitutionality of an ordinance or statute. See City of Montecello v. Christensen, 769 P.2d 853 (Utah Ct. App. 1989), aff'd, 788 P.2d 513 (Utah 1989), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 841 (1990); State v. Hinson, 966 P.2d 273 (Utah Ct. App. 1998); City of Kanab v. Guskey, 965 P.2d 1065 (Utah Ct. App. 1998); State v. Matus, 789 P.2d 304 (Utah Ct. App. 1990).

In the instant case, appellant has already exercised his constitutional right to appeal the justice court decision, receiving a trial de novo in the district court. Appellant's attempts to pursue an appeal in this court are ineffective under Utah law. Appellant does not challenge the constitutionality of any statute or ordinance, rather, he challenges the constitutionality of the district court's actions. "An oblique reference on appeal to constitutional rights or the invalidity of defendant's conviction cannot satisfy the statutory requirement. . . . [A] mere allegation of a violation of one's constitutional rights is insufficient to confer jurisdiction." City of Monticello, 769 P.2d at 855. Given that appellant did not challenge the constitutionality of a statute or ordinance in the lower courts, this court is unable to entertain his appeal. See Guskey, 965 P.2d at 1066. "[O]nce a justice court judgment is appealed to [the district] court, article I, section 12 and article VIII, section 5 of the state constitution do not entitle a disgruntled party to plenary review . . . of the [district] court's judgment." Matus, 789 P.2d at 305.

Because appellant appealed the justice court's judgment to the district court, did not make the requisite constitutional challenge, and the district court did not rule on the constitutionality of a statute or ordinance, appellant has exhausted his right of appeal. Accordingly, we have no alternative but to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Varian-Eimac, Inc. v. Lamoreaux, 767 P.2d 569, 570 (Utah Ct. App. 1989).

Pamela T. Greenwood,
Associate Presiding Judge

James Z. Davis, Judge

Norman H. Jackson, Judge