SLC v. DeYoung

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SLC v. DeYoung, Case No. 20000522-CA, Filed October 18, 2001, 2001 UT App 310 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS


Salt Lake City,
Plaintiff and Appellee,


Rulon F. DeYoung,
Defendant and Appellant.

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 20000522-CA

October 18, 2001 2001 UT App 310 -----

Third District, Salt Lake Department
The Honorable Anthony B. Quinn

Clayton A. Simms, Salt Lake City, for Appellant
Padma Veeru-Collings, Salt Lake City, for Appellee


Before Judges Greenwood, Jackson, and Davis.

GREENWOOD, Presiding Judge:

Defendant appeals his conviction for Interfering with Officer in Discharge of Duty, in violation of Salt Lake City Code § 11.04.030(B), a Class B Misdemeanor. While defendant raises three arguments on appeal, only one requires discussion.(1) The trial court committed reversible error by denying defendant a jury trial despite previous court orders stating a jury trial would be held. Accordingly, we reverse.

Because defendant was charged with a Class B Misdemeanor,(2) he does not have the right to a jury under the United States Constitution. See West Valley City v. McDonald, 948 P.2d 371, 374 (Utah Ct. App. 1997) (adopting Lewis v. United States, 518 U.S. 322, 116 S. Ct. 2163 (1996), holding, Constitution does not guarantee a right to jury trial to defendant charged with petty crime). However, under Rule 17(d) of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant charged with a misdemeanor can still obtain a jury trial if "the defendant makes written demand at least ten days prior to trial, or the court orders otherwise." Utah R. Crim. P. 17(d) (emphasis added). Defendant concedes he never made a written demand for a jury trial, but argues he was entitled to jury trial because the court "order[ed] otherwise." We agree.

On January 26, 2000, a pretrial conference took place before Judge Pat Brian. After counsel entered an appearance for the record, Judge Brian asked what the parties wanted. Defendant's counsel responded, "Your Honor, we would ask for a jury trial date." Judge Brian replied, "The matter is set for jury trial." A minute entry scheduling a jury trial for defendant was signed by Judge Brian.(3) In addition, Judge Ann Boyden signed an Order to Continue Jury Trial, and Salt Lake City filed both a "Motion to Continue Jury Trial," and "Plaintiff's Proposed Instruction to the Jury."

"When the language of a rule or statute is unambiguous, Utah courts have consistently held the rule's plain language must be followed."(4) State v. Vessey, 957 P.2d 1239, 1240 (Utah Ct. App. 1998). Accordingly, defendant was entitled to a jury trial either by submitting a written request or when the trial court ordered that a jury trial take place. The statutory language "or the court orders otherwise" allows a defendant a jury trial even if not requested in writing, if the trial court so orders. Otherwise, the quoted language would be superfluous. See State v. Morrison, 2001 UT 73,¶11, 428 Utah Adv. Rep. 28 (stating that under rules of statutory construction, this court has a "fundamental duty to give effect . . . to every word in a statute[,]" and to avoid interpretations that render "parts or words in a statute inoperative or superfluous" (internal quotations and citations omitted)).

Defendant obtained an order from the trial court and therefore had a right to a jury trial. Because the trial court refused to grant defendant a jury trial pursuant to Rule 17(d), we reverse and remand for a new trial consistent with this decision.

Pamela T. Greenwood,
Presiding Judge -----


Norman H. Jackson,
Associate Presiding Judge

James Z. Davis, Judge

1. Besides the violation of defendant's statutory right to a jury trial, defendant also claims that the trial court erred in not deciding whether defendant would proceed pro se and in allowing Salt Lake City Prosecutors to withhold evidence that defendant was entitled to receive before trial. Because we reverse on defendant's statutory right to a jury trial, we do not address these issues.

2. See Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-204(2) (1999) (stating a Class B Misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail).

3. Judge Brian's oral order is sufficient to require a jury trial as oral orders are enforceable under Utah law. Cf.Envirotech Corp. v. Callahan, 872 P.2d 487, 498 (Utah Ct. App. 1994) (affirming a contempt of court ruling for defendant's violation of an oral order of the trial court).

4. Each party concedes that the language of Rule 17(d) is clear and unambiguous.