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State v. Lopez, State v. Nielsen, 2020 UT 61 (Aug. 18, 2020)

Aug 18, 2020

This consolidated appeal dealt with the standard for compelling a victim to testify at a preliminary hearing. The trial court in Nielsen granted a motion to quash the defendant’s subpoena compelling the victim to testify, while the trial court in Lopez denied a similar motion. The Utah Supreme Court affirmed the Nielsen court and reversed the Lopez court, holding that any right a defendant has to compel victim testimony is necessarily limited by the trial court’s power to quash “unreasonable” subpoenas under Utah R. Crim. P. 14(a)(2). Ultimately, in order to compel a victim to testify at a preliminary hearing, a defendant must show that “additional, live testimony from the victim is necessary to present evidence on a specific point material to the probable-cause determination” and “reasonably likely to defeat the State’s prima facie showing of probable cause.”