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State v. Campos, 2013 UT App 213, 309 P.3d 1160 (August 29, 2013) 

Aug 29, 2013

The appellant was convicted of attempted murder and aggravated assault after he and an unofficial neighborhood watch volunteer each armed with semi-automatic pistols “squared off near midnight in their Bluffdale neighborhood.” Campos, 2013 UT App 213, ¶ 1. The Utah Court of Appeals overturned the attempted murder conviction on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel due to the cumulative effect of three errors. Id. ¶ ¶ 92 – 93. First, the court determined that the verdict form improperly shifted the burden of proof on imperfect self-defense to the defendant. Id. ¶ 45. Second, the court determined that the prosecutor’s statements had “prompted the jury to put themselves in the shoes of the victim and to consider matters outside the evidence,” and so constituted prosecutorial misconduct. Id. ¶ ¶ 49 – 53. Third, the court determined the prosecutor’s statements during closing arguments “crossed the line from permissible argument of the evidence to an impermissible attack on defense counsel’s character.” Id. ¶ 57. Specifically, the court noted that “[a]rguing that the evidence does not support the defense theory and that the theory is thus a distraction from the ultimate issue is fundamentally different from arguing that defense counsel is intentionally trying to distract and mislead the jury.” Id. Because defense counsel did not object on these three issues, the court determined that the cumulative effect of the errors undermined its confidence in the verdict. Id. ¶ 72.