In 2019, a jury convicted Torrey Jordan Green of multiple counts of rape of six women. The district judge presiding over the case said Green was a “serial rapist and showed no mercy.” Green was sentenced 26-years-to-life in prison. He maintained his innocence throughout the conviction and sentencing.
Green’s attorneys filed an appeal in 2022 to overturn the convictions, saying Green did not receive a fair trial. As part of their arguments, each case should not have been consolidated into one trial. Instead, the attorneys argued each incident should have been tried on its own. Green also argued hearsay statements presented during his trial should have been excused.
The Utah Supreme Court heard arguments of the appeal in October 2022 and issued its opinion at the start of June 2023.
In their ruling, the Utah Supreme Court justices did admit they were persuaded to overrule their own rules regarding the doctrine of chances – a rule of evidence that allows evidence of past events or circumstances to be presented in a court case should they meet certain criteria.
The overruling of the doctrine of chances, however, still did not help Green’s appeal.
“Because of this change in course, we analyze whether the district court erred in admitting the other-acts evidence in Mr. Green’s case under the rules of evidence (without any reference to the doctrine of chances),” wrote the Court in its opinion. “Under this standard, we find no error in the district court’s other-acts evidence determination.”
The Utah justices ruled that the hearsay claims were properly admitted as evidence. The justices also said that because the evidence against Green was overwhelming, any statements that should have been excluded as hearsay were harmless.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office said that the Court’s landmark ruling will make it easier for prosecutors to admit evidence of similar acts of sexual assault against multiple victims in future cases.
The full opinion from the Utah Supreme Court can be read in its entirety below: