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February 2011 Archives

February 3, 2011

Fillmore Justice Court Vacancy Announced


Fillmore, Utah—Applications are being accepted for a Justice Court judge position in Fillmore. The position will replace Judge Ronald R. Hare who resigned effective Jan. 1, 2011.

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February 7, 2011

February 2011 e.Bulletin

Making "Paperless" a Priority

Chief Justice Christine M. Durham let us know in her January 24th State of the Judiciary speech that going paperless is a primary objective of the Utah court system. “We are in the process of making fundamental changes in almost every part of our court system.” The most significant change the Utah courts are making is the move to electronic filing. Every business day the court receives 4,500 new filings, over 950,000 new cases every year. To keep pace, “We are changing how cases are filed, how clerks process them, how judges view them, how we communicate about them, and how they are litigated, heard and resolved” by electronic filing, she said. Many professions are seeking to reduce costs by handling business electronically. According to a recent Salt Lake Tribune article, nearly 74 percent of Utah’s health clinics are paperless, compared to 51 percent nationally.

The Bar is also making its own electronic efforts and is encouraging the paperless priority. The E-bulletin you are reading now, the availability of E-filing through our website, online licensing and online elections are some of our electronic updates and more are on the way. Advances in modern business technology have yielded innovative tools to manage our business processes. The Bar held a CLE recently highlighting how new technology can streamline your law practice and help you become paperless. Keep an eye out for similar Bar-sponsored CLEs in the future. Going paperless is environmentally responsible and cost conscious. Join the movement!

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February 8, 2011

Deseret News: Utah State Bar frustrated over lack of federal judicial nominations

Utah State Bar frustrated over lack of federal judicial nominations
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011 1:54 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Leaders of the Utah State Bar are frustrated over the number of civil cases languishing in the federal courts system as they await judicial nominations from the White House.

Utah State Bar President Robert Jeffs said the backlog created by the escalating number of cases puts a strain on judges, frustrates attorneys and clients, and impacts businesses seeking resolutions in court.

"It's reached a point where it's different and it's not getting better," John Baldwin, executive director of the Utah State Bar, told the Deseret News editorial board Tuesday.

Jeffs, Baldwin and Ben Hathaway, president of the Utah chapter of the Federal Bar Association, admit that Utah is not unique — there have only been 42 nominations made for 103 vacant positions nationwide. But the attorneys say the federal caseload in Utah is rising and resources are scarce, with only three active trial judges to hear the cases.

Technically there are five federal judges in Salt Lake City, but two have reached senior status. Other senior judges, some who are in their early 80s, continue to help take on some cases.

"They have no obligation, at that point, to have a regular caseload," Jeffs said.

They expressed their gratitude for the senior judges, who are still taking on 137 civil cases a year — a necessity when the number of civil cases has increased by 10 percent each year for the past three years.

On average, a quarter of the civil cases pending will take well over a year — around 541 days — before they are resolved.

Hathaway said he feels we have the "greatest judicial system on the planet," but worries the current situation will leave those businesses involved in litigation for the first time "disheartened" by the system.

"Confidence erodes," he said. "It's a corrosive problem when it's not moving."

While the lack of nominations — including the U.S. Attorney's Office, which has not had an official replacement for Brett Tolman, who resigned in December of 2009 — is clearly the issue.

Who is responsible for that is more difficult to pinpoint.

"There's enough blame to go around," Hathaway said. "It just isn't happening. The Titans are clashing for whatever reason and impacting commercial industry."

The situation creates what Jeffs described as a "unique phenomenon." And one that potentially creates confidence problems from a watching public.

"We want to instill confidence in the system of government … but it does begin to lead to inroads of questioning how things work," Baldwin said.

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball transitioned to senior status in November 2009. He was joined by Judge Tena Campbell in December. There have been no nominations to fill either position. Kimball has maintained a full caseload since then, even presiding over the grueling six-week trial of Elizabeth Smart kidnapper Brian David Mitchell.

Federal magistrate judges are also doing their part, presiding entirely over cases where both parties have stipulated to their doing so.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

February 9, 2011


Fillmore, Utah—Applications are being accepted for a Justice Court judge position in Fillmore. The position will replace Judge Ronald R. Hare who resigned effective Jan. 1, 2011.

To be considered for the position, candidates must be at least 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States, a Utah resident for at least three years, and have earned a high school diploma or GED. In addition, candidates must be a resident of the county in which the court is located—or an adjacent county—for at least six months.


About February 2011

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