Utah Law Developments, 0222 UTBJ, Vol. 35, No. 1. 27

Authorby Rodney R. Parker, Dani Cepernich, Robert Cummings, Nathanael Mitchell, Adam Pace, and Andrew Roth
PositionVol. 35 1 Pg. 27

Utah Law Developments

No. Vol. 35 No. 1 Pg. 27

Utah Bar Journal

February, 2022

January. 2022

Appellate Highlights

by Rodney R. Parker, Dani Cepernich, Robert Cummings, Nathanael Mitchell, Adam Pace, and Andrew Roth

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following appellate cases of interest were recently decided by the Utah Supreme Court, Utah Court of Appeals, and United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The following summaries have been prepared by the authoring attorneys listed above, who are solely responsible for their content.


State v. Watts

2021 UT 60 (Nov. 17, 2020)

The appellant challenged his conviction for dealing in materials harmful to a minor on First Amendment grounds. Affirming, the supreme court concluded that the relevant statute’s inclusion of nudity in the definition of harmful to minors did not violate the First Amendment. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the sexual conduct requirement contemplated in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973), applied to minors, and clarified that both content and context are relevant to whether material qualifies as obscene.

State v. Evans

2021 UT 63 (Nov. 4, 2021)

The Utah Supreme Court held that the court of appeals did not err in affirming the district court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress DNA evidence obtained from a buccal swab pursuant to a valid warrant. The court rejected the defendant’s arguments that the officers had used excessive force when executing the warrant to counter the defendant’s physical resistance to having his cheek swabbed, and also rejected the defendant’s argument that the officers required statutory authorization to use physical force to obtain the buccal swab.

Hayes v. Intermountain Geo Environmental Servs., Inc.

2021 UT 62 (Nov. 4, 2021)

In this certified case, the Utah Supreme Court interpreted the scope of the economic loss statute, Utah Code § 78B-4-513. That statute codifies the economic loss rule with respect to actions for defective design or construction. The claims at issue were negligence claims asserted against a geotechnical engineering firm that had provided a geotechnical report opining the property that includes the home owned by plaintiffs was safe for residential construction, provided certain recommendations were met. Interpreting the term “design” used in the statute, the court held that the claims were claims for defective design because “[t]he geotechnical report is a necessary component of the structural design of a home and is thus integral...

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