State v. Talbot

In State v. Talbot, 972 P.2d 435, 438 (Utah 1998), the Court recognized that assessing "'the credibility of the witnesses in a preliminary hearing is an important element in the determination of probable cause'" and that preventing magistrates from making credibility determinations "would undermine the 'fundamental purpose served by the preliminary examination.'" 972 P.2d at 438. Nevertheless, the Court noted that "the magistrate's evaluation of credibility at a preliminary hearing is limited to determining that 'evidence is wholly lacking and incapable of reasonable inference to prove some issue which supports the prosecution's claim.'" Talbot, 972 P.2d at 438 Essentially, magistrates may only disregard or discredit evidence that is "wholly lacking and incapable of" creating a reasonable inference regarding a portion of the prosecution's claim. Id. It is inappropriate for a magistrate to weigh credible but conflicting evidence at a preliminary hearing as a preliminary hearing "is not a trial on the merits" but "a gateway to the finder of fact." Id. Therefore, magistrates must leave all the weighing of credible but conflicting evidence to the trier of fact 1 and must "view the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, resolving all inferences in favor of the prosecution." Id.