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State v. Doutre 2014 UT App 192 (Aug. 14, 2014) 

Aug 14, 2014

The Utah Court of Appeals reversed the defendant’s conviction for attempted kidnapping based on trial counsel’s ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to object to the expert testimony of a detective. Although the court identified three ways in which trial counsel was ineffective, the most notable was the failure to object to the detective offering expert testimony on the same day that he had served as the escort and narrator for the jury’s view of the crime scene. The court explained that trial counsel “should have been sensitive to the impression this unusual situation might have made on the jury.” Id. ¶ 16. The dual role of the detective was an impermissible irregularity that might tend to influence the trier of fact. This was particularly true given that the judge told the jury that none of the witnesses would be at the jury view; the detective was the only witness privileged to be there; and the detective was able to answer the State’s questions during trial by referencing how things appeared earlier that day during the jury view, even though as the court-appointed guide for the jury view, he was supposed to point out landmarks impartially.