On November 30, 2004, the Utah Supreme Court entered an Order of Disbarment, disbarring Ray Harding, Jr. from the practice of law in Utah.
On or about July 13, 2002, after being called to Mr. Harding’s home on a domestic disturbance call, law enforcement officers found cocaine, heroin and drug paraphernalia. Mr. Harding tested positive for cocaine, opiates, and Valium. Mr. Harding was arrested and charged with two felony criminal counts of unlawful possession or use of a controlled substance. Subsequently, Mr. Harding pled guilty to two counts of attempted possession or use of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor. Mr. Harding was a Fourth Judicial District Court judge for the State of Utah at the time of the criminal charges.
Aggravating factors included: After being charged, Mr. Harding continued to publicly maintain his innocence and malign his accusers for over a year. These protestations were widely reported in the media and disseminated to the general public. Mr. Harding did so with full knowledge of his culpability, as evidenced by his subsequent admission of guilt. Furthermore, despite being unable to hear cases due to the pending criminal charges, Mr. Harding continued to draw his full salary and otherwise enjoyed the emoluments of judicial office. Not only did such behavior bring disrepute upon the legal profession and undermine public confidence in the judiciary, it placed an undue burden upon his colleagues on the Fourth Judicial District Court and adversely affected those citizens served by that court. Compounding these abuses, Mr. Harding delayed his decision to resign until the last possible moment, and only did so under intense media coverage of the looming dual threat of impeachment by the Legislature and removal by the Utah Supreme Court.