State of Utah v. Smith

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State v. Smith. Filed May 13, 1999 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS


State of Utah,
Plaintiff and Appellee,


Melissa Lee Smith,
Defendant and Appellant.

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 990210-CA

May 13, 1999 1999 UT App 164 -----

First District, Logan Department
The Honorable Clint S. Judkins

Melissa Lee Smith, Lewiston, Appellant Pro Se
Lee Edwards, Logan, for Appellee


Before Judges Wilkins, 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.

A person not satisfied with a judgment rendered in the justice court is entitled to a trial de novo in the district court, and, unless certain conditions are met, the judgment of the district court after trial de novo is final and may not be appealed. See Utah Code Ann. § 78-5-120 (Supp. 1998); Utah R. Crim. P. 26(12). 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 and ruled upon in the justice and/or district court involve the validity or constitutionality of an ordinance or statute. See City of Monticello 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).

Appellant has already exercised her 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 did not challenge the validity or constitutionality of any statute or ordinance below, and on appeal merely 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 the issues raised and ruled upon below did not involve the validity or constitutionality of a statute or ordinance, this court is unable to entertain her appeal. See Guskey, 965 P.2d at 1066. 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).

Michael J. Wilkins,
Presiding Judge

James Z. Davis, Judge

Norman H. Jackson, Judge