Certiorari to the Utah Court of Appeals Third District, Salt
Lake The Honorable Randall N. Skanchy No. 061901607
D. Reyes, Att'y Gen., Tyler R. Green, Solic. Gen., Brent
A. Burnett, Asst. Solic. Gen., Salt Lake City, for respondent
Stephen G. Homer, West Jordan, for petitioner
Associate Chief Justice Lee authored the opinion of the
Court, in which Chief Justice Durrant, Justice Himonas,
Justice Pearce, and Judge Johnson joined.
recused herself, Justice Durham does not participate herein;
District Judge Christine S. Johnson sat.
ASSOCIATE CHIEF JUSTICE
Dennis Garcia served a five-year sentence for automobile
homicide. Following his release, the Board of Pardons and
Parole ordered him to pay $7, 000 of restitution toward his
victim's funeral expenses. Garcia filed various motions
with the sentencing court challenging the restitution order
as untimely and therefore legally invalid. The district court
determined that it did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate
these motions, and the court of appeals affirmed.
We affirm the court of appeals under Utah Code section
77-27-5(3). That provision states that restitution decisions
of the board are "not subject to judicial review."
This statutory section was all but ignored by the courts
below, but it is properly before us here. And it is decisive.
It forecloses the judicial review sought by Garcia in this
Garcia offers no way around this conclusion under the
language of the statute. Instead he alleges that section
77-27-5(3) infringes his constitutional rights under the Open
Courts Clause of the Utah Constitution. This is an issue
Garcia raised both in the district court and in the court of
appeals. But he did not raise it in his opening brief in this
court. We do not reach it here for that reason.
In March 2006, Dennis Garcia crashed a car and killed his
passenger. He was convicted of automobile homicide in April
2008, and he was sentenced to serve zero to five years in
Garcia was released from prison in April 2013. Months later,
the Board of Pardons and Parole issued an order of
restitution that required Garcia to pay $7, 000 to the Utah
Office for Victims of Crime for funds paid to the
victim's mother for funeral expenses. The board sent the
order to the district court per Utah Code section 77-27-6(4),
and the court entered the order into its docket.
Garcia moved the district court to set aside the restitution
order on the ground that it was untimely. In opposing
Garcia's motion the Office of State Debt Collection
asserted that the court lacked jurisdiction under Utah Code
section 77-27-5(3). That section states that
"[d]ecisions of the board in cases involving . . .
restitution . . . are final and are not subject to judicial
review." The district court denied Garcia's motion,
holding that it lacked jurisdiction. It based its order not
on section 77-27-5(3) but on other grounds. Garcia then filed
three other motions requesting similar relief. He argued,
among other things, that section 77-27-5(3) violated the Open
Courts Clause. The court denied all three motions on the
grounds stated in its previous order; it did not address
Garcia's constitutional argument.
Garcia appealed the denial of these three motions to the
court of appeals. In his brief, he renewed his constitutional
argument and made an additional statutory argument. The
statutory argument was that the district court had
jurisdiction over the restitution order because it entered