Julian v. State (1998)

In Julian v. State, 966 P.2d 249, 253 (Utah 1998), the Court held that the four-year catch-all statute of limitations provision for post-conviction relief violated article V, section 1, the separation of powers provision, and article I, section 11, the Open Courts Clause. 966 P.2d at 253. Julian arose after the legislature enacted a one-year statute of limitations in response to the ninety-day statute of limitations being declared unconstitutional. Id. at 251. After asserting that "the separation of powers provision, Article V, Section 1 of the Utah Constitution, requires, and the Open Courts Provision of the Declaration of Rights, Article I, Section 11, presupposes, a judicial department armed with process sufficient to fulfill its role as the third branch of government," id. at 253, the lead opinion announced that "to apply the catch-all statute to bar habeas petitions not only violates the Utah Constitution's open courts provision in article I, section 11, but also violates the separation of powers provision in article V, section 1." Id. The Court used the open courts provision to reject legislative attempts to impose time limits on defendants who seek to access habeas corpus relief. Id. The Court reasoned that the right to a habeas corpus petition is a right bestowed by the judicial branch not subject to legislation. Id. In a concurring opinion, Justice Zimmerman wrote that the time limitations imposed on filing habeas actions were offensive because of the writ's place as "one of the cornerstones of Anglo-American jurisprudence and an essential constitutional tool we give every citizen so that they can raise challenges to the lawfulness of their confinements." Id. at 259 (Zimmerman, J., concurring). Because it serves as essentially the last resort for persons wrongfully deprived of their liberty, the right to seek habeas corpus can never be extinguished by the mere passage of time. Julian, 966 P.2d at 254.