State v. Tuttle

In State v. Tuttle, 713 P.2d 703, 704 (Utah 1985), the Court ordered the reinstatement of a prison escapee's appeal after we had dismissed it. 713 P.2d at 704. The Court did not indicate in our opinion whether we had issued a remittitur of Mr. Tuttle's dismissal. Since under the appellate rules then in effect a remittitur issued fifteen days after the dismissal, it is more likely than not that it had issued and we did not consider its issuance to be an impediment to the constitutional reasoning that underlay our holding, for the reasons articulated in this opinion. In Tuttle the Court exercised jurisdiction granted to appellate courts by the Utah Constitution to make real the right of appeal. The Court determined that an escape cannot result in a conclusive assumption that the escapee has made an affirmative decision to waive his constitutional right to appeal. Id. It is difficult for us to imagine that the injection of the issuance of a remittitur as a potential issue in Tuttle would have altered either the analysis or the result. Tuttle stands for the high degree of importance we afford the guarantee of the constitutional right to appeal. The Court explained that when Utah Code Ann. 76-5-202(1)(q) (1995) is read too literally, it describes all murders "not resulting in instantaneous death," thus becoming unconstitutionally vague. Id. at 1216. However, the Court concluded that subsection (q) can be construed "in a manner consistent with the federal constitution's requirements without doing violence to the legislature's intent." Id. at 1217. Accordingly, to meet the requirements of subsection (q), the State must prove "not only serious physical abuse or serious bodily injury before death, but also that any such abuse or injury evidence a mental state materially more depraved or culpable than that of most other murders . . . and the physical abuse or injury must be qualitatively and quantitatively different and more culpable than that necessary to accomplish the murder." Id. at 1217.