Appeal of Interlocutory Order Third District, Salt Lake The
Honorable Royal I. Hansen No. 131908488
D. Reyes, Att'y Gen., John J. Nielsen, Asst. Solic. Gen.,
and Clint T. Heiner, Salt Lake City, for appellee
Ann Booth, Salt Lake City, for appellant
Justice Pearce authored the opinion of the Court, in which
Chief Justice Durrant, Associate Chief Justice Lee, Justice
Durham and Judge Toomey joined.
been recused, Justice Himonas does not participate herein;
Court of Appeals Judge Kate A. Toomey sat.
Samuel Aaron Francis and the State entered into a plea
agreement the weekend before Francis's trial. The State
rescinded its offer before Francis entered his plea because
Francis's alleged victim objected to the agreement.
Francis's counsel then represented to the district court
that she was not ready for trial because she had ceased trial
preparation once she believed the parties had reached a plea
agreement. The district court continued trial. Francis later
filed a motion to enforce the plea agreement. The district
court denied Francis's motion. Francis petitioned for
interlocutory appeal asking the court of appeals to remand
with orders to enforce his agreement with the State. The
court of appeals granted the petition, then certified the
appeal to us. We affirm.
After Samuel Aaron Francis allegedly beat up his girlfriend,
the State leveled a host of charges against him: three third
degree felony counts of aggravated assault, a third degree
felony count of obstruction of justice, and a misdemeanor
count of interruption of a communication device.
The district court scheduled a jury trial to begin on Monday,
June 15, 2015. On the Friday before trial, the State agreed
that if Francis would plead to one of his four third degree
felony charges, it would offer him a "402 reduction
after successful completion of probation, 24 months
supervised probation, [and] no agreement for recommendation
of no jail at sentencing." Francis accepted the plea
offer on Saturday and emailed a copy of the agreement to the
State for review on Sunday.
The State returned the agreement with substantive edits the
morning of trial. An hour
later-before the judge took the bench and before Francis
entered his plea-the State rescinded its offer because the
alleged victim disapproved of the agreement.
At Francis's request, the court granted a continuance and
rescheduled the jury trial for August 2015. Francis then
filed a motion to enforce the plea agreement, arguing that he
had detrimentally relied on the State's offer. The court
rejected the motion. Francis timely sought interlocutory
review in the court of appeals. We now review this case on
certification from the court of appeals.
¶6 Francis argues that he was prejudiced because, having
relied on the recently rescinded plea offer, he was
unprepared to go forward with trial. Next, he alleges that
the withdrawn plea agreement caused him to forego "the
investigation and assertion of claims regarding alleged
Brady and Tiedemann violations." He
also argues that he was prejudiced because one of his
witnesses had expressed hesitancy to return ...