The Utah Court of Appeals has ruled that a Salt Lake County man cannot be charged again with an offense in district court after the charge was thrown out by a justice court.

In a ruling published Thursday, the appellate court found that it is double jeopardy for Taylorsville city to seek to refile a misdemeanor charge of rioting after a jury in Taylorsville Municipal Justice Court dismissed the charge. The ruling strengthens the continuity between justice courts and district courts.

The case involves David Michael Garn, who was charged with interfering with an arrest and riot. The jury convicted Garn of the interfering charge but acquitted him of riot. Garn then appealed the interfering charge to the district court, requesting a new trial.

City prosecutors requested that the riot charge be refiled. However, a district judge ruled that although Garn was appealing his conviction on one charge, it would be double jeopardy to retry Garn on the riot charge.

In siding with the district court, the appellate court said that if it took Taylorsville city's position, a defendant would be forced into a difficult choice when appealing to the district court.

"On one hand, "If he chooses to appeal the conviction, he would risk being convicted of charges of which he was previously acquitted. ... If he chooses not to exercise his constitutional right to appeal, he would be forced to live with a conviction that may not be just."


E-MAIL: gfattah@desnews.com