State v. Ambrose

In State v. Ambrose, 598 P.2d 354 (Utah 1979), the defendant was tried for attempted homicide. Id. When the jurors expressed difficulty in reaching a verdict after deliberating for a little over an hour, the trial court declared a mistrial. Id. at 356-57. When the trial court denied the defendant's subsequent motion to dismiss after determining that a retrial would not violate the defendant's right against double jeopardy, the defendant filed a direct appeal to this court. Id. at 357. At that time, Utah's statutory scheme allowed a defendant to appeal only from final judgments. Consequently, the State argued that this court had no jurisdiction to entertain the defendant's appeal because the order denying the defendant's motion was not final. See id. In rejecting this assertion, the Court explained: "The denial of defendant's motion is a "final" judgment. The denial effectively prevents defendant from obtaining his requested relief, which is based on a substantial constitutional right guaranteed him under both the Utah and the United States Constitutions. The order denying defendant's motion is clearly a complete and final rejection of his double jeopardy claim, a claim by which defendant essentially argues not the merits of the charge against him, but rather that the State has forfeited the power to again subject him to a criminal proceeding." Id. Relying on this merits/power distinction, we concluded that the defendant's direct appeal was properly taken. Id.