Five Times Lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw and Moffat Shaped Utah Criminal Law

Have you ever wondered how criminal defense lawyers influence the laws? Individual cases influence the law all the time. Expert defense lawyers use their representation to help protect their current clients and expand the rights of people accused of crimes in the future. 

Here are a few historical examples of cases defended by lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat that helped change the law to protect people accused of crimes.  

State v. Nelson-Waggoner
Ref: 6 P.3d 1120 (Utah 2000)

The outcome of this case created a rule in Utah that governs what evidence of a defendant’s "prior bad acts" the state may bring in a criminal trial.

The court instructed the jury of the following on the appropriate use of “bad acts” evidence:

“The law does not allow you to … punish [the defendant] simply because you believe he may have done other things, even bad things, not specifically charged as crimes in this case. Evidence of other crimes, wrongs or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action and conformity therewith. It may, however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or absence of mistake or accident.”

This instruction prevents a jury from convicting someone of committing a crime solely because they might have committed a separate “bad act” in the past.

Gutierrez v. Medley
Ref: 972 P.2d 913 (Utah 1998)

This is a great example of a case’s outcome restricting the power of the State of Utah. In this case, the State tried to use Utah's Subpoena Powers Act to coerce testimony and cooperation from witnesses of a potential murder that was committed in their home. Ultimately, the case both defined the limitations of the Subpoena Powers Act and limited the State's power to use the act.

State v. Herrera
Ref: 993 P.2d 854 (Utah 1999), see also 895 P.2d 359 (Utah 1995)

In this case, the defendant was charged with both murder and attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. While the defendant was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity, he was found guilty of attempted murder—denying him the defense of insanity for those charges. The expert defense lawyers challenged the constitutionality of what can and cannot qualify as an insanity defense. Although the challenge of the law was unsuccessful, this case shows how the lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat fought for their current and future clients’ rights to add more leniency to the insanity defense parameters.

State v. Tuttle
Ref: 780 P.2d 1203 (Utah 1989); Tuttle v. State of Utah, 57 F.3d 879 (10th Cir. 1995)

Have you ever wondered if there are limits to using hypnosis to enhance the memory of a witness in a trial? The attorneys in this case made state law regarding the use and unreliability of hypnotically enhanced testimony. In the appeal of his guilty verdict, the defendant successfully argued that “the trial court erred when it permitted a witness to testify to matters that the witness ‘remembered’ only after undergoing hypnosis,” and that “it was error to exclude proffered expert testimony on the unreliability of hypnotically enhanced testimony.”

The result was that the appellate court reversed the sentence.

State v. Vigil
Ref: 842 P.2d 843 (Utah 1992)

This is a case that helped redefine what is classified as “attempted” murder in Utah. The word “attempted” can be interpreted in many ways by everyone in a courtroom. So the defense team at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat fought for the defendant’s rights all the way up to the Utah Supreme Court. In the end, the Utah Supreme Court reversed the conviction, because it found there could be no crime of attempted “depraved indifference” murder.

Find An Experienced Defense Lawyer In Utah

Laws are changed one case at a time, and the lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat have been representing clients and improving the law for decades. The lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat not only fight for the rights of their current clients, but for the rights of all those in the future who are charged with crimes.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, we will work with you to find a strong defense and help you get the best outcome.

Give us a call at (801) 532-5297 so we can start working on your case today.

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