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State v. Bunker

Court of Appeals of Utah

July 11, 2019

State of Utah, Appellee,
v.
Peter James Bunker, Appellant.

          Third District Court, Silver Summit Department The Honorable Paige Petersen Nos. 131500342, 131500295

          Ann M. Taliaferro, Attorney for Appellant.

          Sean D. Reyes and Christopher D. Ballard, Attorneys for Appellee.

          Judge Jill M. Pohlman authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K. Orme and David N. Mortensen concurred.

          OPINION

          POHLMAN, JUDGE.

         ¶1 It is an old legal maxim that there is no right without a remedy. Peter James Bunker seeks in this appeal a remedy for delays in his appeals process without first establishing the infringement of any underlying rights. We accordingly affirm the district court's order terminating his probation as unsuccessful and reinstating his sentence.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In 2013, Bunker was charged with assault by a prisoner. After finding Bunker indigent, the district court appointed counsel to represent him (Trial Counsel). Bunker pleaded guilty to the charge.

         ¶3 In June 2014, the district court sentenced Bunker to a prison term not to exceed five years. The court ordered this prison term to run consecutively to Bunker's prison sentences in a separate case in which he pleaded guilty to three first-degree felonies and was sentenced to three concurrent zero-to-five-year prison terms, which the court had suspended in favor of probation. The court also ordered him to spend 320 days in jail with a credit of 247 days for time served. The court then suspended the prison term and placed Bunker on probation.[1]

         ¶4 In May 2015, Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P) alleged that Bunker had committed several probation violations. At a subsequent hearing before the district court that was handling both of Bunker's cases, Bunker admitted to two probation violations. The court revoked his probation, ordered him to serve 120 days in jail with credit for 55 days already served, and then reinstated his probation.

         ¶5 The next year, AP&P again alleged that Bunker had violated the conditions of his probation. At a hearing, Bunker admitted to two probation violations, and the district court accordingly found that he had violated probation. On May 9, 2016, the court terminated Bunker's probation as unsuccessful and reinstated the three concurrent zero-to-five-year prison terms from the other case. Bunker filed a timely pro se notice of appeal on May 12, 2016, and this appeal was docketed.

         ¶6 Shortly after receiving the notice of appeal, this court informed Trial Counsel that this appeal had been filed. And in mid-July 2016, this court ordered Trial Counsel to file Bunker's docketing statement or other proper motion. One week later, Trial Counsel moved to withdraw as counsel for Bunker, explaining that, pursuant to his contract with the county, his obligation to represent Bunker "terminates with the filing of a Notice of Appeal." On August 2, 2016, this court granted the unopposed motion to withdraw and temporarily remanded the case to the district court for the determination of Bunker's indigence and, "if indigency [was] found, for appointment of counsel." This court stayed the appeal pending disposition in the district court.

         ¶7 For reasons that are not apparent on the record, it took another nineteen months for the district court to appoint counsel (Appellate Attorney) to represent Bunker on appeal. Once Appellate Attorney was appointed, the ...


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