District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Paul G.
Maughan No. 160904796
K. Phelps, Attorney for Appellant
D. Reyes, Erin T. Middleton, Amanda N. Montague, Attorneys
Ryan M. Harris authored this Opinion, in which Judges Kate A.
Toomey and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
Matthew Jay Holste (Holste) filed this lawsuit seeking a
judicial declaration that he is not required to register as a
sex offender under Utah law. The district court dismissed
Holste's lawsuit, and determined that Holste does indeed
need to register as a sex offender. We agree, and therefore
In 2006, while residing in Idaho, Holste entered a plea of
guilty to one count of lewd conduct with a minor under
sixteen years of age, in violation of Idaho law. See
Idaho Code Ann. § 18-1508 (West 2018). Upon entry of
Holste's plea, the Idaho court ordered "that the
entry of judgment be withheld, " and placed Holste on
probation for a term of eight years conditioned upon, among
other requirements, Holste registering as a sex offender.
See id. § 18-8307 (West 2018) (establishing the
procedure for a criminal defendant to register as a sex
offender). Thereafter, Holste registered as a sex offender in
Idaho, and successfully complied with the other terms of his
probationary sentence. In 2010, the Idaho court entered an
order setting aside Holste's guilty plea and dismissing
the case with prejudice. The 2010 order did not affect
Holste's registration requirement; indeed, Holste
concedes that he is still required to register as a sex
offender in Idaho.
In or about 2010, Holste moved from Idaho to Utah, and soon
thereafter he received a letter from the Utah Department of
Corrections (the Department) informing him that he was
"required to register as a sex offender [in Utah]
because of [his] Idaho State conviction in 2006." Holste
complied, and registered in Utah as a sex offender, and has
been so registered ever since.
In 2016, Holste filed this lawsuit, seeking a declaratory
judgment that he was not required to register as a sex
offender in Utah. The Department moved to dismiss
Holste's lawsuit, asserting that Utah law requires Holste
to register as a sex offender in Utah. The district court
agreed with the Department, and determined that Holste was
and is required to register, and therefore dismissed
Holste's lawsuit for declaratory relief. Holste now
We review for correctness a district court's ruling on a
motion to dismiss. Bylsma v. R.C. Willey, 2017 UT
85, ¶ 10. Likewise, we review for correctness the
district court's interpretation of a statute.
Meritage Cos. v. Gross, 2017 UT App 223, ¶ 4,
409 P.3d 111.
The term "offender, " as defined in Utah's sex
offender registration statutes, includes any person who falls
within the statutory definition of "sex offender."
See Utah Code Ann. § 77-41-102(11) (LexisNexis
2017). The term "sex offender, " in turn, includes
(among other categories of persons) anyone "who is
required to register as a sex offender by any state . . .
." Id. § 77-41-102(17)(c)(i). Because the
state of Idaho requires him to register as a sex offender,
Holste concedes that he is both a "sex offender"
and an "offender" as those terms are defined in
Utah's statutory scheme.
Holste nevertheless argues that, despite his status as a
"sex offender" under Utah law, he need not register
as such. His argument in this regard is based on the premise
that Utah's statutory scheme requires only a subset of
(i.e., less than all) sex offenders to actually register.
Holste grounds his interpretation in the text of Utah Code
section 77-41-105(1), which states that "[a]n offender
convicted by any other jurisdiction is required to
register." Utah Code Ann. § 77-41-105(1)
(LexisNexis 2017). Holste asserts that, due to the dismissal
of his Idaho criminal case, he cannot be considered
"convicted" by any other jurisdiction, and
therefore he need not register as a sex offender in Utah.
Even if we assume, for purposes of this appeal, that the term
"convicted" means what Holste says it means,
that therefore subsection (1) does not apply to him,
Holste's argument still suffers from a fatal infirmity:
Holste ignores the plain language of subsection (3)(a), which
states that "an offender shall . . . register."
Id. § 77-41-105(3)(a). Because Holste concedes that
he is an "offender, " this statutory provision is
dispositive of this appeal: all offenders shall register,
even if they do not fit within any of the other subsections
of the statute.
Holste attempts to escape the plain language of subsection
(3)(a) by arguing that interpreting that subsection to
require registration of every "offender" would
eviscerate subsection (1) and render it mere
"surplusage"; indeed, the provisions of subsection
(3)(b) already require "an offender who is convicted in
another jurisdiction" to "register."
See Utah Code Ann. § 77-41-105(3)(b); see
also State v. Jeffries, 2009 UT 57, ¶ 9, 217 P.3d
265 (explaining that "statute[s] should be construed . .
. so that no part [or provision] will be inoperative or
superfluous, void or insignificant, and so that one section
will not destroy another" (alterations in original)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted)). We are
unpersuaded. Even under our interpretation of subsection
(3)(a), subsection (1) retains vitality because, unlike
subsection (3)(a) or (3)(b), it informs offenders who were
"convicted" in another jurisdiction how soon they