SALT LAKE CITY — An Ogden man was awarded a new trial after the state appeals court determined he received ineffective counsel during a 2014 jury trial.
The Utah Court of Appeals tossed the conviction of William Edward Tirado, 41, and remanded the case back to Ogden’s 2nd District Court for a new trial, the court ruled in their opinion issued July 5.
In May 2014, Tirado was convicted of one count of arranging the distribution of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony; and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, a class A misdemeanor.
Years earlier in 2012, Tirado was arrested following a sting operation by the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force, where a paid informant reportedly tried to buy methamphetamine from Tirado and his cousin. Police found narcotics on Tirado’s cousin, who was arrested and later charged. The appeals court decision indicates that no drugs or paraphernalia were found on Tirado’s person when he was arrested, but police later found paraphernalia in his home after Tirado’s fiancee signed off on the search of their home.
Tirado was charged and assigned to be represented by a public defender, which later was discovered to be the same attorney representing Tirado’s cousin.
Tirado’s cousin, who is not named in the appeals court’s opinion, eventually pleaded guilty to charges. The attorney was not able to obtain a plea agreement for Tirado, who later went to trial.
During the jury trial, Tirado’s attorney did not call the cousin to testify nor did he object when the arresting officer testified about the cousin’s statement about his intent to sell the meth.
Tirado was convicted of both charges and subsequently appealed, alleging he received ineffective counsel during his trial.
Specifically, Tirado filed his appeal on the basis that his attorney had a conflict of interest in representing both him and his cousin, which caused his attorney to not call the cousin as a witness at trial. Tirado claimed the attorney’s concurrent representation of him and his cousin created, “an actual conflict of interest which adversely affected counsel’s performance,” the opinion stated.
Previously in 2017, the state appeals court remanded the case back to the district court for an evidence hearing in 2018 to explore the facts of Tirado’s appeal. The results of that hearing was later passed to the state appeals court, who in return issued their ruling for a new trial.
Court records show the attorney in question who represented both Tirado and his cousin was former public defender Sean Young. In October 2018, Young has his Utah bar certification suspended for three years after he admitted to 20 complaints filed by former clients.
One prominent case involving Young’s misconduct is the capital murder case of Douglas Lovell. Young was assigned to contact 18 witnesses to testify at Lovell’s 2015 trial, and assured his co-counsel that he was doing his work, but said many of them were being uncooperative. According to complaints filed against Young, he only contacted two witnesses.
As of Friday, a subsequent hearing regarding Tirado’s case has yet to be scheduled. Tirado is not being held in police or prison custody.