Noor v. State, 2019 UT 3, 435 P.3d 221 (Jan. 18, 2019)

In this appeal from the denial of a petition for post-conviction relief, the Utah Supreme Court confirmed that Utah R. Civ. P. 15(c) applies to proposed amendments to petitions under the Post-Conviction Remedies Act filed after the statute of limitations has run.  The court held that to “relate back” under Rule 15(c), “the cause of action or claim asserted must generally be the same in both pleadings, and the issue presented in the amendment must factually relate to the issue presented in the first pleading.  Applying that standard, the court held the petitioner’s proposed claim of ineffective assistance of counsel—based on the failure to obtain a competent translator to ensure that he understood those speaking at trial—related back to his original ineffective assistance of counsel claim, asserted pro se, based on trial counsel’s failure to alert the trial court to the petitioner’s lack of fluency in English.

Interestingly, the Tenth Circuit decided United States v. Roe, 913 F.3d 1285 (10th Cir. Jan. 29, 2019) eleven days later, in which it applied the slightly-different federal standard for Rule 15(c) that applies to a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, correct, or set aside a sentence—which the Utah Supreme Court distinguished in Noor—to hold that the criminal defendant’s proposed amended claim did not relate back to his original motion.