Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Utah’s eWarrant system challenged in Supreme Court
Courts » Attorneys in an automobile homicide case had argued the system is unconstitutional.
First Published Apr 30 2014 09:45 am • Last Updated May 03 2014 11:05 pm

The way police officers electronically apply for search warrants was challenged in the Utah Supreme Court recently, but the high court ruled Tuesday that Utah’s eWarrant system is constitutional.

Gabriel Gutierrez-Perez, 29, was sentenced to up to 16 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to automobile homicide and driving under the influence in a 2011 car crash that killed Utah paramedic Jonathan Bowers.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Though Gutierrez-Perez pleaded guilty to the charges, he appealed the district court’s decision to deny his motion to suppress evidence obtained through a blood draw after the crash.

According to the Supreme Court’s opinion, Gutierrez-Perez’s attorneys argued that the eWarrant system the police officer used to quickly obtain a search warrant for a blood draw was unconstitutional because the system does not require the officer to submit an "oath or affirmation," as required by the United States and Utah constitutions.

The Supreme Court noted in its opinion that the eWarrant application does include a screen labeled "Affidavit Submission for eWarrant" and includes the statement: "By submitting this affidavit, I declare under criminal penalty of the State of Utah that the foregoing is true and correct."

Gutierrez-Perez’s attorneys argued that the language used on that screen was borrowed from the state statute governing "unsworn declarations," and therefore, it should be treated as an unsworn statement.

The justices were not swayed by their argument, however, and ultimately ruled that the officer’s statement was supported by a valid affirmation.

"In sum, while applying for the eWarrant in this case, the officer declared that the information that he was submitting was ‘true and correct,’" Chief Justice Matthew Durrant wrote. "Further, in making that declaration he expressly made himself subject to potential criminal penalty."

Prior to the May 22, 2011 crash, Gutierrez-Perez had spent the night drinking with friends at home and then at a downtown nightclub, according to police. After sleeping for awhile on a friend’s sofa, Gutierrez-Perez drove home at 6 a.m.

He was going about 75 mph when he crashed into Bowers’ stopped car near 6200 South and 4000 West in Taylorsville. After slamming into the back of another vehicle, Bowers’ car was launched into the air.


story continues below
story continues below

Gutierrez-Perez’s car crashed into a pole before hitting a wall. He ran into a residential area, where police later found him hiding in a window well. His blood alcohol level was 0.19, more than twice the legal limit.

Bowers, 31, of West Jordan, died a week after the crash.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.