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State v. Mooers

Supreme Court of Utah

June 27, 2017

State of Utah, Respondent,
v.
Ryan Mooers and Darron Laven Becker, Petitioners.

         On Certiorari to the Utah Court of Appeals

         Third District, West Jordan The Honorable Charlene Barlow No. 131400410

         Third District, Salt Lake The Honorable Ann Boyden No. 131902981

          Sean D. Reyes, Att'y Gen., Tera J. Peterson, Asst. Solic. Gen., Salt Lake City, for respondent.

          Nathalie S. Skibine, Debra M. Nelson, Heather J. Chesnut, Lacey C. Singleton, Salt Lake City, for petitioners.

          Justice Himonas authored the opinion of the Court, in which Chief Justice Durrant, Associate Chief Justice Lee, Justice Durham, and Judge Davis joined.

          Having recused himself, JUSTICE PEARCE did not participate herein; DISTRICT JUDGE LYNN DAVIS sat.

          OPINION

          HIMONAS JUSTICE.

         INTRODUCTION

         ¶ 1 We address two underlying cases in this appeal, both of which turn on the same issue: whether an order of complete restitution that is part of a plea in abeyance is a final order appealable as of right. The Utah Court of Appeals determined in the first case, State v. Mooers, 2015 UT App 266, 362 P.3d 282, that it is not. In the second case, State v. Becker, 2015 UT App 304, 365 P.3d 173, another panel of the court of appeals held that it was bound by the Mooers panel's holding. Each panel dismissed its case for lack of jurisdiction, and we consolidated the cases for appeal. We hold that an order of complete restitution is a final order for purposes of appeal and therefore reverse the decisions of the court of appeals.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶ 2 The first case involves a restitution order for Ryan Mooers. On April 15, 2013, Mr. Mooers entered a plea in abeyance to third-degree felony theft, a condition of which was the payment of restitution. Thereafter, the State requested that Mr. Mooers pay $5, 760.50 in restitution, of which $4, 660.50 represented the cost of the items stolen, window repair, and carpet replacement. The victims of the theft stated that their daughter had trouble feeling safe in her room, which had been broken into, so the restitution amount included $1, 100 for bars to place over her basement window. Mr. Mooers objected to the inclusion of the cost of the window bars, but the district court found that the cost was part of the pecuniary damages stemming from the theft and, in a ruling dated February 12, 2014, ordered the $1, 100 to be included in the restitution order. Thirteen days later, Mr. Mooers filed a notice of appeal. After briefing and argument, the court of appeals held that because the restitution order was part of a plea in abeyance, it was not a final order and the court therefore had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal. State v. Mooers, 2015 UT App 266, ¶¶ 1, 19, 362 P.3d 282.

         ¶ 3 The second case involves Darron Laven Becker's plea in abeyance for attempted aggravated assault after he attempted to hit his neighbor with a shovel. Following the entry of Mr. Becker's plea, the State requested $663.01 in restitution for medical costs that the Utah Office for Victims of Crime paid the neighbor. Mr. Becker objected to the basis for the amount, noting that the only documentation for the amount was a handwritten note from the neighbor requesting $624 for replacement glasses, $39 for an eye exam, and $480 for lost wages. The district court determined that a sufficient nexus between Mr. Becker's actions and the neighbor's requested restitution existed and, on December 9, 2013, ordered Mr. Becker to pay $663.01. Mr. Becker appealed the district court's order on December 17, 2013. The court of appeals dismissed Mr. Becker's appeal for lack of jurisdiction upon determining that it was bound by the Mooers panel's decision. State v. Becker, 2015 UT App 304, ¶¶ 7-9, 365 P.3d 173.

         ¶ 4 We consolidated the cases on appeal and granted certiorari review under ...


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