Original Proceeding in this Court
Kendall Peterson and Bradley G. Nykamp, Attorneys for
M. Johnson and Michael C. Drechsel, Attorneys for Respondent
the Honorable Elizabeth Hruby-Mills.
D. Robinson and Cory D. Sherwin, Attorneys for Respondent
West Valley City.
Ryan M. Harris authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory
K. Orme and Diana Hagen concurred.
In this case, we are asked to determine whether the
time-computation methodology set out in rule 2 of the Utah
Rules of Criminal Procedure should be applied to compute the
days during which a probationer is on probation. We conclude
that it should, and therefore determine that the
prosecutor's probation violation report was timely filed
on the last day of Lee Ralph James's probation period.
Accordingly, the district court correctly ruled that the
justice court had authority to revoke James's probation,
and we therefore deny James's petition for extraordinary
On November 12, 2014, in West Valley City Justice Court,
James pled guilty to misdemeanor assault. The court imposed a
jail sentence of 180 days, but suspended that sentence and
placed James on probation "for twelve months."
Among other conditions of probation, the court ordered James
not to commit "violations of the law[, ] save perhaps a
minor traffic offense." Exactly one year later, on
November 12, 2015, West Valley City (the City) prosecutors
filed an affidavit in support of a motion for order to show
cause, alleging that James had violated his probation by,
among other things, committing another assault on November 5,
2015, before the expiration of the twelve-month probationary
period. After holding an evidentiary hearing, the justice
court found James to be in violation of his probation and
sentenced him to additional jail time.
James appealed the justice court's decision to the
district court, as is his right under rule 38 of the Utah
Rules of Criminal Procedure, and argued that the order to
show cause affidavit had been filed at least one day too
late. He asserted that the "twelve-month"
probationary period to which he had been sentenced had
expired at midnight (i.e., 11:59 p.m.) on November 11, 2015,
and that expiration of that time period deprived both the
justice court and the district court of authority to revoke
his probation. James further argued that, even though the
alleged probation violation had occurred on November 5,
during the probationary period, the City's failure to
alert the court of that violation before the end of the
probationary period deprived the court of authority to take
action related to the alleged violation.
The district court initially agreed with James and dismissed
his case, but later reconsidered its ruling and determined
that, as calculated under the method set forth in rule 2 of
the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure, James's
probationary period did not expire until midnight (i.e.,
11:59 p.m.) on November 12, and the City had therefore timely
filed its affidavit. The district court eventually found
James in violation of probation and remanded the matter to
the justice court, which sentenced James to sixty additional
days in jail. Before serving his sixty-day sentence, James
filed a petition for extraordinary writ with this
James argues that the twelve-month probationary period
imposed by the justice court in 2014 expired before the
filing of the City's probation violation report, thus
divesting the court of power to find him in violation of his
probation. "A court's power to grant, modify, or
revoke probation is purely statutory." State v.
Orr, 2005 UT 92, ¶ 18, 127 P.3d 1213 (quotation
simplified). Questions of statutory interpretation are
questions of law which we review for correctness. State
v. Wallace, 2006 UT 86, ¶ 5, 150 P.3d 540.
James's argument is premised upon two critical
assumptions: first, that James's probationary period
really did expire at midnight on the eleventh; and second,
that the City's failure to file a probation violation
report within that probationary period deprived the justice
court of the power to revoke his probation even for
violations that occurred within the probationary
period. Because we conclude that James's first
assumption is infirm, we deny James's petition without
reaching the merits of the second.
The Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure "govern the
procedure in all criminal cases in the courts of this state
except juvenile court cases." Utah R. Crim. P. 1(b).
Those rules have a provision-rule 2-that governs the
computation of periods of time, and the version of rule 2 in
effect at the time James was sentenced stated as follows:
In computing any period of time, the day of the act
or event from which the designated period of time begins to
run shall not be included. The last day of the period so
computed shall be included, unless ...