State v. Ostler

In State v. Ostler, 2001 UT 68, 31 P.3d 528, the Court acknowledged and resolved a statutory ambiguity concerning which procedural event triggered the thirty-day plea withdrawal window. The Court held that the statutory description of the period available to withdraw a plea, "30 days after the entry of the plea," Utah Code Ann. 77-13-6(2)(b) (1999), referred to the date of entry of final judgment and not to the date of the plea colloquy. Ostler, 2001 UT 68 at P11. The legislative history of the statute anchored most of this holding. Id. The Court reinforced our reasoning, however, with the observation that to start the time for moving to withdraw a plea from the time the district court accepted a plea could "deprive the district court of the power to review a plea before it enters a judgment of conviction and sentence," an outcome we found to be unreasonably unfair. Id. Contributing to the unfairness of this alternative interpretation was our assumption, culled from the dictum in Abeyta, that failure to bring a timely motion to withdraw a guilty plea had jurisdictional consequences. Id. In State v. Ostler, the argument that the thirty-day filing period should commence from the date on which final judgment is entered may owe its persuasive force to the "serious problems" that we noted could beset a scheme in which a jurisdictional motion filing period began to run from the date of the plea colloquy.