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Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Rejects Appeals for Trolley Square Victims Filed by Law Professor

Paul Cassell, a professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah and nationally recognized crime expert on victims’ rights, announced today that the Tenth Circuit has just released a ruling rejecting his appeal on behalf of Trolley Square crime victims.

The Tenth Circuit’s ruling held that Ken and Sue Antrobus, the parents of Trolley Square murder victim Vanessa Quinn, did not have the right to speak at the sentencing hearing on Monday of defendant MacKenzie Hunter, who sold a handgun to the Trolley Square shooter that was used to murder their daughter.

The ruling held that the Antrobuses had not shown an “extraordinary situation” justifying appellate court review.  In doing so, the Tenth Circuit rejected earlier rulings from the Second Circuit and Ninth Circuit that give crime victims’ the right to ordinary appellate review.

Professor Cassell criticized the decision, saying:  “The 10th Circuit applied the strictest possible standard of review to the Antorbuses’ claim, differing from the holdings of the federal appeals courts in New York and California.  Sadly, it appears that the Antrobuses would have won if their case had been filed in New York or California.  I intend to ask either the full Tenth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court to review this case and bring the law in this Circuit into conformity with the law of the other circuits. “

Professor Cassell also criticized the broader implications of the ruling today:  “Unfortunately, the Tenth Circuit today has continued the sad legacy in this country of making crime victims’ second-class citizens in the criminal justice process.  The Circuit refused to give crime victims the ordinary appellate review that other litigants receive.”

The ruling is available on the College of Law website at

Cassell, who recently stepped down as a U.S. District Court judge to return to teaching and advocacy, was joined by Salt Lake City attorneys Greg Skordas and Rebecca Hyde in filing the pro bono appeal with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. 

The Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling from the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.  That lower court concluded that because the defendant in the matter, MacKenzie Hunter, did not himself fire the shot that killed Vanessa Quinn, there was not a sufficient nexus between Hunter’s criminal sale of the gun to Sulejman Talovic (a minor, who Hunter well knew was not allowed to buy handguns) and the death of Quinn eight months later.   

On February 12, 2007, Sulejman Talovic, who was armed with a shotgun and the pistol Hunter sold him, entered a Salt Lake City shopping mall, where he killed five shoppers and seriously wounded four others.  Quinn was killed by a bullet from the Hunter’s handgun.  Talovic was eventually shot and killed by an off-duty police officer.

For additional information or an interview with either Cassell or the Antrobuses, contact Professor Paul Cassell at 801/585-5202 or via email at