State of Utah v. Morales-Torres

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State of Utah v. Morales-Torres, Case No. 20000680-CA, Filed August 16, 2001 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS


State of Utah,
Plaintiff and Appellant,


Jose Morales-Torres,
Defendant and Appellee.

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 20000680-CA

August 16, 2001 2001 UT App 246 -----

Third District, Salt Lake Department
The Honorable William W. Barrett

Mark L. Shurtleff and Marian Decker, Salt Lake City, for Appellant
Linda M. Jones and James A. Valdez, Salt Lake City, for Appellee


Before Judges Bench, Davis, and Thorne.

THORNE, Judge:

The State appeals from an order quashing defendant's bindover on a charge of Arranging to Distribute Cocaine, a second degree felony, in violation of Utah Code Ann. § 58-37-8(1)(a)(ii) (Supp. 2000). We reverse and remand.

The State argues the district court "misapprehends what is required by the bindover standard." At the time the district court quashed defendant's bindover, the district court relied, in part, on State v. Hester, 2000 UT App 159, 3 P.3d 725, to make its ruling. In Hester, we explained that the "quantum of evidence" submitted by the prosecution "must be 'sufficient to survive a motion for directed verdict.'" Id. at ¶6 (quoting State v. Talbot, 972 P.2d 435, 438 (Utah 1998)).

Here, the district court concluded that the State failed to show the "quantum of evidence" necessary to bind defendant over. Id. The district court then listed six separate detailed reasons in support of its ruling. Applying Hester, the applicable standard at the time, the trial court did not err when it quashed defendant's bindover. However, in State v. Clark, 2001 UT 9,¶8, 20 P.3d 300, issued after the district court quashed defendant's bindover, the Utah Supreme Court departed from the Hester line of cases and sought "to clarify the exact meaning of the probable cause standard" required for bindover. Id. at ¶14. Accordingly, Clark now sets the proper standard for binding over defendant.

Under Clark, the court did away with the "distinction between the arrest warrant probable cause standard and the preliminary hearing probable cause standard." Id. at ¶16. Nevertheless, "the prosecution must still produce believable evidence of all the elements of the crime charged . . . just as it would have to do to survive a motion for directed verdict." Id. at ¶15 (internal quotation & citation omitted). However, the "quantum of evidence necessary to support a bindover is less than that necessary to survive a directed verdict motion." Id. at ¶16 (emphasis added). Ultimately, now, under Clark, "at both the arrest warrant and the preliminary hearing stages, the prosecution must present sufficient evidence to support a reasonable belief that an offense has been committed and that the defendant committed it." Id. (emphasis added).

We therefore reverse the district court's decision to quash defendant's bindover.

William A. Thorne, Jr., Judge -----


Russell W. Bench, Judge -----


James Z. Davis, Judge