Few events could be more stressful than watching your child be accused of committing a juvenile crime. It’s a difficult time for you and your family, but the better you understand how Utah’s juvenile justice system works, the calmer and more confident you will feel, and the better you will be able to support your child as their case develops.
In February of 2014, state legislators asked Pew Charitable Trusts to perform a cost analysis of Utah’s prison system. Pew was tasked with proposing a strategy that would minimize expenses while simultaneously “holding offenders accountable” and “improving public safety.” Pew analysts discovered that Utah’s inmate population had increased by 22% over the previous decade — and in particular, the sex offender population had increased by 42%. With the legislature scheduled to reconvene just months from now in January of 2015, lawmakers will eventually have to confront a tough but important question: should prison sentences for sex crimes be reduced in order to free up badly-needed space in Utah’s increasingly crowded correctional facilities?
Utah is known for having some of America’s most relaxed gun laws, consistently filling top slots on lists of best states for gun owners. But while the laws may be lenient, even Utah draws a firm line when it comes to mixing firearms and criminal activity — and so does the federal government. Can you lose your firearm privileges if you’re convicted of committing a crime, such as domestic violence or a weapons crime?
On April 21, 2014, 25-year-old defendant Siale Angilau was fatally shot by a U.S. Marshal after lunging at a witness during his trial at U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. Months later, on September 8, court clerk D. Mark Jones confirmed the existence of video footage of the incident. Relatives and defense attorney Robert Sykes want to review that footage, fearing Angilau may have been the victim of excessive force — but Chief Judge Ted Stewart won’t permit the tapes to be released.
Resentment and distrust toward American law enforcement has reached an all-time high in recent months. In June, hundreds of demonstrators rallied together to protest the killing of Geist the dog, who was shot by SLCPD Officer Brett Olsen. In July, Eric Garner’s chokehold death at the hands of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was ruled a homicide, sparking mass protests in the streets of New York City. Through August, ongoing protests against police brutality in Ferguson captured national headlines, while at the same time, Salt Lake City experienced its own brutality scandal: the August 11 death of 20-year-old Dillon Taylor, who was shot by the SLCPD despite numerous claims he was unarmed. As the South Salt Lake PD continues to investigate the shooting of Dillon Taylor, more and more Utahans are calling for local police departments to start wearing body cameras.
In 1991, 78-year-old Lucille Johnson was found murdered in her Holladay home, the victim of strangulation and physical assault. The unsolved mystery of her death baffled investigators for decades, but now, more than 20 years later, the formerly cold case has finally been cracked. The catalyst? Lego toys.
You have probably heard terms like “emotional distress” or “extreme emotional duress” being used to describe certain murder cases. Human emotions are abstract, powerful, and often defy logic; yet in order to be considered as evidence for or against a defendant, they must somehow be evaluated by the courts. This is one of the most decisive factors in the case of Tracy A. Scott, who confessed to shooting his wife last spring. Scott’s trial is currently underway, though the key focus isn’t whether or not he committed the murder — it’s what state of mind he was in at the time. Depending on the answer to that question, Scott’s first degree felony murder charges could potentially be dropped to second degree felony manslaughter.
Back in June, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups dismissed $48 million in assorted white collar charges filed against real estate entrepreneur and alleged Ponzi scheme architect Rick Koerber of Utah County. Earlier this month, he expanded on the ruling by dismissing the case with prejudice, meaning the case cannot be refiled. Judge Waddoups pointed to the prosecution’s handling of the case as key factors in his decision, citing “neglect” and “questionable ethical conduct.”
Earlier this week, we wrote about the death of an unidentified man who was fatally shot by Salt Lake City police outside of a South Salt Lake 7-Eleven. Officers say they responded to a 911 call about a man waving a handgun, and fired on the suspect after they saw him reaching into his jacket. Family members and eye-witnesses say the man was apparently unarmed, and that officers fired on him while his back was turned. As the South Salt Lake PD continues to investigate, new comments and allegations are beginning to emerge.
Every day, police officers willingly brave dangerous situations that have the potential to end in injury and even death. In cases where suspects are threatening physical violence, officers must defend innocent bystanders and protect their own lives, sometimes with lethal force. But what if a suspect isn’t armed? Three officers with the Salt Lake City Police Department have been placed on administrative leave while investigators probe the death of a man who was fatally shot outside of a 7-Eleven in South Salt Lake earlier this week. Some reports say the man was brandishing a handgun, but other accounts say the man was unarmed.