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State v.

Holm case brief


137 P.3d 726 (Utah 2006)

FACTS:
-The defendant was legally married to Suzie Stubbs in 1986.
-After this marriage, D participated in a religious marriage ceremony with Wendy Holm.
-The defendant also participated in another religious marriage ceremony with then-sixteen-yearold Ruth Stubbs, who was Suzie Stubbs's sister.
-After the ceremony, Ruth moved into Holm's house, where her sister Suzie Stubbs, Wendy
Holm, and their children also resided.
-By the time Ruth turned 18, she had conceived two children with the defendant, the second of
which was born approximately three months after her eighteenth birthday.
-The defendant was arrested and charged with three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a
sixteen- or seventeen-year-old, and one count of bigamy Utah Code section 76-5-401.2(2003)
and 76-7-101(2003).
-The court denied pretrial motion for a continuance to prepare a defense on Lawrence v. Texas.
At the close of the State's case, the defendant moved for reconsideration of his motion to dismiss
(based on statutory grounds and unconstitutional invalidity of the bigamy and sexual conduct
statues), arguing that the jury should not be allowed to consider whether he violated the bigamy
statute by purporting to marry Stubbs.
-The jury returned a guilty verdict on each of the charges, indicating on a special verdict form
that the defendant was guilty of bigamy both because he 'purported to marry Ruth Stubbs' and
because he had cohabited with Ruth Stubbs.
-Defendant appealed and the Utah Court of Appeals certified appeal for transfer. Sua sponte (its
own accord)
ISSUES:
1. Do bigamy laws under the Utah Code section 76-7-101 (2013) and unlawful sexual conduct
with a minor 76-5-401 violate the free exercise clause under de First Amendment or due process
of law clause on the Fourteenth Amendment? (No)
2. Does a person purport to marry and thus violate bigamy law under the Utah Code by
participation in a private religious ceremony because the form of that ceremony resembled to a
legal marriage? (Yes)
3. Does the defendant conviction under the bigamy statue was constitutional regarding due
process of law on the Fourteenth Amendment as presented in Lawrence v. Texas case? (Yes)
HOLDING:
1. No, the bigamy laws under the Utah Code do infringe the free exercise of religion on the First
Amendment nor the due process of law on the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendant was rightfully
convicted.
2. Yes, by the similarities of the ceremonies one can easily argue the validity of both marriages.
3. Yes, Liberty interest discussed in Lawrence v. Texas is limited and provides exclusions of
certain conducts.

REASONS, GROUNDS FOR HOLDING:


1. The Utah Constitution art 3 sec 1 tolerates and protects of religious views; but prohibits
polygamous or plural marriages, hence it does not infringes in the practice of religion. (Reynolds
v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879) Utah Code 76-5-401.2 states that it is unlawful to engage in
a sexual conduct with a 16 year old minor.
2. Holm and Stubbs stood before an official of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints and responded affirmatively to the exchanged vows normally used on a
traditional legal marriage ceremony and afterwards cohabited thus violating the Utah bigamy
law, even if the State was not made aware of the union.
3. Liberty interest discussed in Lawrence v. Texas is limited to consenting adults gays and
lesbians and excludes from protection conduct that causes injury to a person or abuse of an
institution the law protects (marriage), hence considering Holms conduct outside of the scope
and punishable. The state has great interest in protecting the social value of the marriage and
prosecutes any polygamous marriages.
APPLICATION:
1. marry in the bigamy statute making a married person guilty of bigamy when the person
purports to marry another person includes legally recognized marriages as well as those that are
not sanctioned by the state.
2. irrevocable ordinance of state constitution prohibiting polygamous or plural marriages does
more than prohibit state from giving formal legal recognition to polygamous marriages;
3. The defendant had no fundamental due process liberty interest to engage in polygamy by
purporting to marry his wife's sixteen-year-old sister;
4. A bigamy conviction did not violate First Amendment right to freedom of association;
5. The bigamy statute was not unconstitutionally vague as applied;
6. Expert testimony relating to the history of polygamy in Utah and the social health of these
types of communities could be excluded; and
7. The prohibition against sexual contact with a minor did not violate equal protection by
distinguishing between married and unmarried persons. (Compare to Lawrence v. Texas).
MAJORITY OPINION: Durrant
CONCURING: Nehring
CONCURRING IN PART AND DISENTING IN PART:
Durham, dissents that the ordinance was intended to prohibit only legal recognition of
polygamous marriages by contenting the Utah Code definition of marriage as a legal union.
DISPOSITION OF THE CASE:
-Affirmed.
REFLECTION:
- It establishes the limitations in Lawrence v. Texas, raises the social value of the marriage

Utah Code
76-5-401.2. Unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old.
(1) As used in this section, "minor" means a person who is 16 years of age or older, but
younger than 18 years of age, at the time the sexual conduct described in Subsection (2)
occurred.
(2) (a) A person commits unlawful sexual conduct with a minor if, under circumstances
not amounting to an offense listed under Subsection (3), a person who is:
(i) seven or more years older but less than 10 years older than the minor at the time of the
sexual conduct engages in any conduct listed in Subsection (2)(b), and the person knew or
reasonably should have known the age of the minor;
(ii) 10 or more years older than the minor at the time of the sexual conduct and engages
in any conduct listed in Subsection (2)(b); or
(iii) holds a relationship of special trust as an adult teacher, employee, or volunteer
76-7-101. Bigamy -- Defense.
(1) A person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other
person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with
another person.
(2) Bigamy is a felony of the third degree.
(3) It shall be a defense to bigamy that the accused reasonably believed he and the other person
were legally eligible to remarry.