In the News Archives

September 6, 2012

Justice Christine Durham to Receive National Award

August 31, 2012
American Judicature Society
Seth S. Andersen
(800) 626-4089 or

Justice Christine Durham of Utah to Receive National Award
Des Moines, Iowa – Hon. Christine M. Durham, Justice of the Utah Supreme Court, has been selected to receive the Eighth Annual Dwight D. Opperman Award for Judicial Excellence from the American Judicature Society. Justice Randy Holland of the Delaware Supreme Court, chair of the award selection panel, said "Justice Durham is the personification of judicial excellence."
In her nomination letter, former Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor of the Arizona Supreme Court, who received the Second Annual Dwight D. Opperman Award, said, “[Justice Durham] has served the public for almost thirty years; during that time, she has demonstrated her commitment to the rule of law, to the administration of justice, and to judicial and legal education. She has served as a role model to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of young women and men who see in her the characteristics they hope someday to possess.”

Continue reading "Justice Christine Durham to Receive National Award" »

July 17, 2012

SLTrib: Utah Bar Gets New Leadership This Week

Attorneys • New president wants to focus on Bar’s value to members.

By Aaron Falk
The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: July 17, 2012 04:20PM
Updated: July 17, 2012 04:24PM

Lori Nelson plans to hit the ground running when she officially assumes the role of Utah State Bar president later this week.

Nelson, a partner at the Salt Lake City firm of Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough, will become the first woman to serve as president of the legal association since 2004 and the fourth female president in the Bar’s history when she is sworn in by Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant on Thursday during a summer convention in Sun Valley, Idaho.

For the past year, Nelson has been shadowing outgoing president Rod Snow as he has helped implement a number of public service efforts.

“He’s done a lot of tremendous things and I want to make sure those programs really solidify and take off,” Nelson said.

During Snow’s term as president, the Bar rolled out a pro bono commission, a framework for matching low-income Utahns with volunteer attorneys in their part of the state. Snow also helped launch a program that will put a judge or lawyer in each of Utah’s high school at least once a year to discuss civics.

In addition to promoting those programs, Nelson said she hopes to improve the Bar for its members.

“I want to change my focus a little and focus on value to the members,” she said.

A number of attorneys have taken up other professions or gone back to school in the midst of the economic recession, Nelson said. Through the Modest Means program that should launch next fall, she hopes to pair up underemployed attorneys with clients who don’t qualify for court-appointed counsel but can’t afford regular attorneys fees. Lawyers would sign up for the program and agree to bill at lower rates.

Nelson also wants to improve the Bar’s image.

“There’s a negative public perception about lawyers,” she said. “Lawyers aren’t these shark people swimming around wounded victims. Lawyers are out serving in the community, doing quality work and can be the person you turn to when you need help.”

The Bar has already begun airing radio spots, promoting attorneys and their volunteer efforts.

To a similar end, Nelson hopes to crack down on misleading advertisements from local lawyers. An attorney who claims, “Hire me and I’ll win,” for example, might have to pull the ad and receive approval from the Bar, depending on the findings of a committee studying the issue, Nelson said.

Those ads are “damaging to the public and also damaging to lawyers’ reputations,” she said.

As part of the Bar’s changing of the guard, Curtis M. Jensen will begin serving his term as president-elect. Jensen, a shareholder in the law office of Snow Jensen & Reece, will follow Nelson as president in 2013-2014.

April 30, 2012

President Snow OpEd @Desnews: Education on the Fundamentals of Democracy is on Life Support

Rod Snow
Published: Sunday, April 29 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

As a nation, we are facing some of the most difficult decisions that have challenged us in a long time.

As reported by the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics at the University of Pennsylvania and the article "Guardian of Democracy" by Jonathan Gould, the lack of high-quality civic education in America's schools leaves millions of citizens without the wherewithal to make sense of our system of government.

Consider, for a moment, that most high school graduates can name the three judges on American Idol, but very few know the number or the names of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court.

Surveys conducted over the past decade reveal alarming facts about the state of civics education in this country. Only one-third of Americans could name all three branches of government, while another one-third could not name any. Less than one-third of eighth graders could identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and less than a fifth of high school seniors could explain how citizen participation benefits democracy.

High school student Shae Thompson participates in events developed to spur civic engagement from teens. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
Civic learning is, at its heart, necessary to preserving our system of self-government. In a representative democracy, government is only as good as the citizens who elect its leaders, demand action on pressing issues, hold public officials accountable and take action to solve problems in their communities.

In some states, civics is not taught at all in junior high or high school. In Utah, civics education is a required course at the high school level. While we are fortunate in that respect, much more could be done and the Utah State Bar is committed to improving Utah's civics education standards.

The Bar's Committee on Civics Education is supporting public education by supplementing high school students' classroom learning about civics, specifically with regard to the judiciary and the rule of law, with an interactive program focusing on analytical and language art skills. Already, more than 200 lawyers have volunteered to teach a one-hour course in judicial independence in this exciting pilot program.

Another Bar-sponsored program aims to ensure that low-income students have access to reading material. Sadly, in certain communities, the ratio of books to children is an unacceptable one book for every 300 children. "Books from Barristers" provides new books, donated by Utah lawyers and other generous individuals and entities, to underserved children in Utah on the topics of law, government, history and civics.

Also, the Utah State Bar's Young Lawyer's Division has instituted a "Choose Law Program," which encourages students in middle school and high school, particularly underprivileged students, to "choose law" early in their educational careers.

As a State Bar, we are excited about these programs because we see the very real need in our communities. We also recognize there are many other actions we can take to improve education on the fundamentals of our democracy, including electing people who recognize the importance of civics education, encouraging teachers and administrators to take advantage of related Bar programs and volunteering, as individual lawyers, to participate in these programs.

A citizenry educated regarding the concepts of our system of government is critical to our free society, and the members of the Utah State Bar are committed to ensuring that our students have access to quality civics education.

Rod Snow is president of the Utah State Bar. On May 1, the Bar and its 10,000-plus members will celebrate Law Day 2012, with the theme of "No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom."

Chief Justice Durrant Editorial @SLTrib: Been Called to Jury Duty?

Been Called to Jury Duty?
By Matthew B. Durrant, Chief Justice, Utah Supreme Court
Published: April 28, 2012 01:01AM
Updated: April 28, 2012 01:01AM

Have you been called for jury duty? Are you 18 or older? Are you a citizen of the United States and a resident of Utah? If so, then I would like to request your experience, your judgment and some of your time to serve on a jury.

We all have busy lives and I know that you might feel like you do not have time to be a juror. But serving on a jury is a special privilege. Jurors are the backbone of the American legal system. And a juror’s vote is the ultimate act of democracy.

You do not need any special training or preparation to be a juror. The witnesses will describe all the evidence you will need to consider. And the judge will explain all the laws you will need to understand as you make your decision. As a juror, your job is to use your experience and judgment to find the facts, apply the law, and decide the outcome. Sound simple? Yes and no.

Jury service can be thrilling. You might have the opportunity to decide whether a defendant committed a crime. Or you might have the opportunity to decide whether one person harmed another and what award should be made to compensate the injured person. Your vote helps to promote justice, one case at a time.

You will not be alone. Most juries in Utah consist of eight people, but there are 12 jurors in capital homicide trials and four or six jurors for misdemeanor crimes. The master list of potential jurors is as inclusive as we can make it. If you are 18 or older, a citizen, and a resident, your name is probably on that list. The names of the people who might serve are selected randomly. A person can be excused from jury service for undue hardship, public necessity, or because the person is incapable of serving. But no one is exempt.

If your name is randomly selected from the master jury list, the court clerk will send you a qualification form with a few simple questions. You can either answer these questions online or fill out the form and mail it back. Returning the qualification form might be the sum total of your jury experience because not everyone who qualifies is called to serve. And not everyone who is called is selected to try a case.

If you are selected, your service could last for one day or for the duration of a trial, although most trials do not last longer than one day. Even just one day’s service means you will not be called again for at least two years. And if you are called to service on a date that does not work with your schedule, the court clerks will try to schedule your service at a time when it is convenient. There are limits, but they will try. So just ask.

Our legal system could not function without your service. We are very grateful to each person who serves, and we have built an environment that supports and encourages jurors. We have spread the responsibility as broadly as possible to minimize the commitment of any one person. We have written jury instructions, which are summaries of the law, in plain and simple language. We try to be efficient so we do not waste your time. And our courthouses are modern and clean.

Have you been called for jury duty? If so, please serve. Someone very much like you has a case in Utah’s courts. Your participation helps to ensure its fair and just resolution.

For more information, and to qualify online, please see the court’s website at

Matthew B. Durrant is Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. His op-ed was written to coincide with Law Day on Tuesday, May 1.

December 7, 2011

ABA seeks better treatment of the disabled by LSAT administrator

The Law School Admission Council is no stranger to litigation over its testing policies. The organization has been sued numerous times by would-be takers of the Law School Admission Test who were denied accommodations for what they claimed were disabilities.

Now the American Bar Association's Commission on Disability Rights has asked the council to change the way it handles requests for testing accommodations, to "ensure that the exam reflects what the exam is designed to measure, and not the test taker's disability."

Continue reading "ABA seeks better treatment of the disabled by LSAT administrator" »

October 28, 2011

Lawyers to play free concert at Trolley Square tonight (Friday)

Lawyers to play free concert at Trolley Square tonight (Friday)
Salt Lake Tribune

The Pro Bono Jam, hosted by Trolley Square, takes place tonight (Friday, Oct. 28) from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the south court located in the main mall at 600 South 650 East.

As part of a week-long National Pro Bono Celebration, this free public concert, sponsored by The Utah State Bar, recognizes pro bono legal service throughout the state. All the musicians performing at the Pro Bono Jam come from the legal profession including Kristin Erickson, a local folk musician and The Vapor Trails String Band.

Kristin Erickson is an attorney at Fabian & Clendenin, P.C. and has been singing, playing and writing music since she was a child. For the past several years, Kristin has been performing in a variety of concert and festival venues, based in Salt Lake City. Kristin will be joined by special guest artists at the Pro Bono Jam.

The Vapor Trails String Band was formed in 2006 by Debora Threedy, Professor of Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, who plays the hammered dulcimer and sings. Dianna Cannon, an attorney at Cannon Match ,performs lead vocals and plays guitar. J.S. “Shawn” Foster, an attorney at J.S. Foster Law, plays the mandolin, fiddle, spoons, and sings. Barry Scholl, an attorney at Kruse Landa Maycock & Ricks, plays guitar and resonator. The band focuses on traditional and original acoustic music.

October 27, 2011

Three Judges Elected to Utah Judicial Council

The Salt Lake Tribune

Three judges have been elected to serve three-year terms on the Utah Judicial Council.

Seventh District Judge George Harmond, 4th District Judge David Mortensen and 2nd District Justice Court Judge John Sandberg, who serves the Clinton and Clearfield justice courts, have replaced 4th District Judge Donald Eyre, 5th District Judge Michael Westfall, and Uintah County Justice Court Judge G.A. Petry, who completed their terms.

In addition, 3rd District Juvenile Court Judge Kimberly Hornak has been named as vice chair of the council.

The Utah Judicial Council is the policymaking body for the judiciary. The council has the constitutional authority to adopt uniform rules for the administration of all courts in the state. The council also sets standards for judicial performance, court facilities, support services, and judicial and non-judicial staff levels.

Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine M. Durham chairs the council, which consists of 14 members. Other members are Utah Supreme Court Justice Jill Parrish, Utah Court of Appeals Judge Gregory Orme, 1st District Judge Thomas Willmore, 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton, 3rd District Judge Paul Maughan, Saratoga Springs and West Valley Justice Court Judge Keith Stoney, West Valley Justice Court Judge Brendan McCullagh, Utah State Bar Representative Lori Nelson, and Utah State Court Administrator Dan Becker, who serves as secretariat to the council. The judges and Utah State Bar representative all serve three-year terms.

October 24, 2011

Utah State Bar to Hold Free Legal Clinics Across State

10.23.2011 by Jessica Gail

(KCPW News) The Utah State Bar will be working this week to match low-income Utahns with attorneys who can help them out for free. Attorney John Baldwin says several events are planned for National Pro Bono Celebration week.

“On Tuesday is what we call a legal clinic blitz, where legal clinics at the Horizonte school downtown in Salt Lake, at the Utah State Bar, in Provo at Utah Valley University and in St. George, where members of the public will be invited to come in and talk to lawyers, and to have to legal help taken care of on a very informal basis and quickly,” he explains.
Baldwin says the need for free legal help has continued to grow in recent years, which is why these events are so important.

“More and more people are becoming poor and there is more and more lower-middle class and lower-income people today in America, and they need legal help,” says Baldwin. “There are family law issues, there are landlord-tenant issues, there are child protection issues, there’s a lot more problems that people are facing.”

Events this week will also focus on celebrating pro bono attorneys and raising awareness for more of them to step forward. View the full schedule of events on the Utah State Bar’s website.

June 29, 2011

Migrant targets - Notorious 'notarios': scammers claim they can help illegals

Published: Sunday, June 26, 2011 10:43 p.m. MDT

WEST VALLEY CITY — The signs are big, colorful and easy to spot. Some are professionally painted and installed in front of posh-looking offices. Some are poster board, taped in the window of a shoe store or hung from the ceiling above a freezer full of convenience-store treats. The words — written in Spanish, as most things in this part of West Valley are — vary, but the message is the same.

"Public Notary," they tout. "We do immigration paperwork."

If immigration attorney Aaron Tarin parts the blinds in his office at 2700 South and Redwood Road, he can see one. There are at least five more within walking distance. "It makes me sick," Tarin said. Public notaries have no legal right to deal in immigration law. Most of the time, when they try, their clients end up on Tarin's doorstep a few thousand dollars poorer, facing deportation.

The con is not new. Notarios, as they are called in Spanish, have been swindling immigrants — both documented and undocumented — for nearly as long as immigrants have needed legal help navigating the complex world of visas and green cards. But as the topic of immigration reform has heated up over the past year, federal appeals courts have begun clogging up with immigrants who came looking for legal status and, because of incompetent or fraudulent lawyers, ended up in the labyrinths leading to deportation. While the government doesn't have hard statistics to describe the number of people getting scammed, in a recent news release, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the problem has reached "epidemic" proportions.

In a major new push to protect immigrants from those who would prey on them, the federal government announced plans this month to crack down on people posing as immigration lawyers. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are working with local prosecutors and immigrant advocacy groups to educate the community and ramp up enforcement.

"We are dedicated to protecting vulnerable immigrants from those who seek to exploit them," said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas. "Through our sustained outreach, enforcement and education efforts, and our close collaboration with our federal, state and local partners, we will provide the communities we serve with the help needed to combat this pernicious problem."

Business at Utah's underground legal shops has been booming since the state Legislature approved a controversial package of immigration laws in March. Among other things, the laws enabled local police to enforce federal immigration laws and laid out plans for a program that would allow undocumented immigrants to legally work in Utah. Most of the laws have yet to go into effect, but immigrants, frightened by the new enforcement measures, have been flocking to notarios in desperate attempts to secure legal status, said Tony Yapias, director of the immigrant activist group Proyecto Latino de Utah. Some enterprising notarios have begun selling fake "Utah Work Permits" for as much as $2,500 each.

The scam

The transactions start out innocent enough. An immigrant needs a legal service. A lawyer — or someone who appears to be a lawyer — offers to help.

Language barriers and the fear of deportation isolate immigrants from mainstream society, making them particularly vulnerable to scams, Tarin said. For hispanics, the culture gap confuses the situation futher because the Spanish translation for "public notary" is "Notario Publico," a term that, in Mexico, is used to describe a high-level attorney.

"The ignorance factor is huge," Tarin said. "A lot of immigrants don't understand that things work differently in the United States,"

The fake lawyers are often "smart and kind and well-spoken," said Melissa, a victim of an immigration scam who asked to be identified only by her first name.

"They tell you what you want to hear, and you trust them," she said.

Melissa, an American citizen who married an immigrant, reached out to several attorneys last year hoping to start the process of getting her husband a green card. When a man later contacted her claiming a colleague had recommended her case to him, she didn't think anything of it. She gave the man the $10,000 he requested. She believed him when he told her, over and over again, that her husband's case would soon be resolved.

"You spend nearly a year and a half talking to someone, crying on their shoulder, and you come to rely on them," she said. "I thought I had made a friend."

But then she got news her husband would be deported. Soon she realized her two children, just 1 and 3 years old, would be growing up without their daddy.

Not all of the people who pose as immigration lawyers reach out to their victims, Tarin said. Many just put up a sign and wait for business to walk in the door. Most stories end the same, though.

"A lot of times the best advice you can give an undocumented immigrant who is looking for legal status is, 'Do nothing,'" he said. "When these fake lawyers file paperwork they're basically marking the case with a red flag. It almost always leads to deportation."

Catching the criminal

In recent years, the Utah Attorney General and the Utah State Bar have taken down a few con artists. Most notable was Leticia Avila, who fled the country in 2009 after she was accused of convincing up to 20 undocumented immigrants to pay her between $2,000 and $8,000 each for fraudulent work permits.

Still, most notarios have little to fear, said Jordan Cheng, who chairs the immigration arm of the Utah State Bar's committee on the unauthorized practice of law. The fake lawyers make no effort to hide their activities, advertising their fraudulent legal services on city benches, TRAX weather shelters and billboards.

Sgt. Mike Powell, public information officer for the West Valley City Police Department, knows what the ads mean. But because the victims are immigrants, they often hesitate to file complaints with the police, he said. Without complaints, the department will not investigate, he said.

The Utah State Bar operates similarly, Cheng said. The agency will not prosecute unless there is a written complaint and, even then, there must be a large number of victims.

"The biggest challenge in taking these people down is getting victims or potential victims to come out and say something," Cheng said. "A lot of immigrants fear talking to authorities. The fact is, if you start talking to authorities you could essentially expose yourself to the potential of deportation."

The federal government's campaign involves a blitz of advertising focusing on teaching immigrants how to recognize fake lawyers and consultants. Federal officials are also working with local prosecutors to bring criminal cases against notarios to serve as examples. Within the immigration court system there are plans to expand the number of nonprofit organizations trained and certified to provide basic legal services to immigrants.

Nationally, the initiative has been criticized as a campaign move — the Obama administration's answer to growing criticism from immigrant communities. Deportations have been at record highs for the last two years and immigration is gearing up to be a major issue in the 2012 elections.

Tarin and Cheng remain skeptical about the federal government's promises.

Tarn, the son of an undocumented immigrant who once fell prey to a notario, used to sue the fake lawyers in his spare time. They'd get scared and pick up and move. After a while, though, he realized they were just opening up shop in other parts of town.

"I started to feel like gardener who can't keep up with the weeds," he said. "I've almost given up."

Continue reading "Migrant targets - Notorious 'notarios': scammers claim they can help illegals" »

May 5, 2011

Utah State Bar elects new leaders

Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 2:26 p.m. MDT
Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Lori Nelson, a partner at the law firm of Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough, has been elected president of the Utah State Bar for 2012-13.

She will serve as president-elect for 2011-12, replacing Rodney Snow, who will take over as president in July. Nelson will become president in July 2012.

Nelson served five years on the bar's Executive Committee.

Also in the recent elections, Utah State Bar members selected commissioners to serve three-year terms representing Third Division and First Division areas of the state.

In the Third Division — Salt Lake, Tooele and Summit counties — Dickson Burton was re-elected, and Eve Furse and Robert Rice were elected as new commissioners. In the First Division — Cache, Box Elder and Rich counties — Herm Olsen was re-elected.

Continue reading "Utah State Bar elects new leaders" »

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.


August 24, 2010

2 Utahns killed in Nepal plane crash

Ms. Heather Finch was the President of the Paralegal Division of the Utah State Bar and was serving as an ex-officio member of the Utah State Bar Board of Bar Commissioners. The Bar Commission and Utah State Bar Staff extend their sympathies to her family and friends.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Two women on board a plane that crashed early Tuesday in Nepal are from Utah.

The Provo law firm of Howard, Lewis & Petersen confirms two of its employees were killed in the crash.

John Valentine, managing shareholder at the firm, identified the two women as Leuzi Cardoso and Heather Finch.

Continue reading "2 Utahns killed in Nepal plane crash" »

May 17, 2010



The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 05/14/2010 08:32:25 PM MDT

InContact Inc., provider of on-demand call-center software and call-center agent-optimization tools has added Mariann McDonagh as chief marketing officer.

The law firm of Parr Brown Gee & Loveless has named James A. Wright as a shareholder. He practices in the areas of construction and real estate law. He earned his law degree from Harvard Law School in 2005, and a B.A. , cum laude, from Brigham Young University in 2002.

Continue reading "Tradewinds" »

March 8, 2010

Scott Matheson named to 10th Circuit appellate court Law

Washington » President Barack Obama on Wednesday named Utahn Scott Matheson Jr. to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, elevating the former law school dean and son of a two-term governor to the appeals court covering Utah and five other states.

If confirmed by the Senate, Matheson, 56, a former U.S. attorney for Utah, would take the seat vacated by another Utahn, Michael McConnell, who resigned to teach at Stanford University.

Continue reading "Scott Matheson named to 10th Circuit appellate court Law " »

January 8, 2010

ABA - House of Delegates 2010 Midyear Meeting

Dear Utah ABA members,

I am pleased to let you know that Utah now has three representatives to the ABA House of Delegates. Larry Stevens and Margaret Plane were appointed by the Bar Commission to serve in the ABA House of Delegates and I am serving as the elected Utah State Delegate.

The next meeting of the House of Delegates is February 8 and 9, 2010. The Summary of Recommendations, including links to the full Reports with Recommendations, are posted on the ABA's House of Delegates website. If you have any input you would like to give to Larry, Margaret or me regarding these matters, please contact us.

We all appreciate the opportunity to serve you.


Larry Stevens
Margaret Plane
Charlotte Miller

December 17, 2009


December 17, 2009
Contact: Nancy Volmer
(801) 578-3994
Cell: (801) 712-4545


Salt Lake City, UT---The Utah Supreme Court has appointed Judge Carolyn B. McHugh to serve on the Judicial Conduct Commission, filling the balance of the term of Judge Russell W. Bench, who is retiring from the bench December 31, 2009. Judge Bench’s term on the Commission expires July 30, 2012. At that time, the Utah Supreme Court will consider reappointing Judge Carolyn McHugh for a four-year term.


December 9, 2009

5th Judicial District Courthouse to Open Dec. 14

December 7, 2009
Contact: Nancy Volmer
(801) 578-3994
Cell: (801) 712-4545


St. George, UT—The new Fifth Judicial District Courthouse is scheduled to open its doors for business at 206 Tabernacle on Monday, Dec. 14, 2009.

Since construction began in February 2008, work has been steady to build the 91,734 sq. ft., $29 million facility. The courthouse includes eight courtrooms for use by the district and juvenile courts. In addition, office space for district and juvenile courts, juvenile probation, the Office of Guardian ad Litem, and mediation is located in the courthouse.

Continue reading "5th Judicial District Courthouse to Open Dec. 14" »

October 29, 2009

SL Tribune: Help lawyers help the homeless and the hungry

By Peg McEntee
Tribune Columnist

Updated: 10/29/2009 08:00:16 AM MDT

Peg McEntee (The Salt Lake Tribune)Leonard W. Burningham is a tall, rangy guy, and you can just see him cooking up tubs full of turkey dressing to help feed the homeless during the holidays.

It's something the securities attorney has been doing since 1979, and this year, he wants every attorney in Salt Lake County, if not the state, to provide a full meal for those in need.

And why not? "There are more attorneys than there are people," he jokes.

It's not just about food, either: Burningham, his family, friends, lawyers, firms and court personnel also will, as they have in the past, collect clothing, household goods and personal care kits for those who need them.

OK, OK, I can hear the lawyer jokes already. But this is a good thing.

It all started that first Thanksgiving, when Burningham was alone, his family out of town. He went out and bought a couple of cases of eggnog and headed for the Eagle Ranch Ministries' Jennie Dudley and her makeshift kitchen under the 400 South viaduct.

There were hams and turkeys and luscious pastries, he said. But the meal needed mashed potatoes and particularly dressing, which Burningham, an avid cook, considers to be one of his specialties.

Through the years, Burningham's crusade expanded to the Rescue Mission, the YWCA's shelter for abused women and children and the Utah Food Bank.

"It just kind of grew," Burningham says. "Court administrators, secretaries, paralegals, everybody helped."

Lincoln Mead, IT director at the Utah Bar Association, has worked with Burningham for about a decade.

"He's a really, really engaged guy who absolutely loves what he does," Mead says. "He's never lost his enthusiasm for this project. Every year he drives a little farther and a little harder."

At 68, Burningham still works at his Salt Lake firm along with his two grown sons, but tries to leave the office at about 2:30 p.m. to meet up with his 9-year-old after school for taekwondo and homework.

His work, the food-and-clothing project and his family are the fruit of "all the dreams you have when you're 25," Burningham says. "It's amazing."

And it's not just his own kids who get Burningham's attention, Mead says. One day, he mentioned that his son had gotten interested in all things military, and a couple of months later, the boy started getting Armchair General magazine, courtesy of Burningham.

"He catches on to things like that and just takes action on it," Mead says. "We see it at the food and clothing drive... there's a huge crowd behind him, helping out."

The "Twentieth Annual Lawyers & Court Personnel Food & Winter Clothing Drive for the Less Fortunate" wraps up on Dec. 18.

For information on how and when to participate, e-mail Burningham at
[or please visit --Bar staff]

October 28, 2009

KSL News - Attorneys volunteer to give free legal advice

By Carole Mikita

Video Courtesy of

SALT LAKE CITY -- Some Utah lawyers are joining a national movement this week to offer free legal advice to people who can't afford it. The attorneys reached out first to those in Salt Lake City who are homeless.

Members of the Utah Bar Association are participating in a national pro bono week with attorneys in 39 states. They hope, with their experience, to provide useful information to those in our community who feel they don't have a voice.

On Tuesday, 25 lawyers volunteered to serve equal parts of lunch and legal advice to people who wouldn't get either without help. The economic downturn has created more people without jobs or homes who need help.

25 lawyers volunteered Tuesday to serve equal parts of lunch and legal advice to people who wouldn't get either without help "There tends to be a lot of immigration issues, minor criminal issues, family law issues; but the whole full spectrum," says Dave Hall, co-chair of the Utah Pro Bono Week Celebration.

That spectrum also includes housing issues, disputes with landlords, employment problems--particularly with unclaimed wages--and there are family matters.

"Mom's trying to get custody of her kids, trying to get a divorce, trying to flee from a domestic abuse or violence situation; a lot of family law," explains Jose Lazaro, director of St. Vincent de Paul Basic Needs Services.

Every week an attorney volunteers a few hours of his or her time to the homeless, but it is never enough. This Tuesday, they talked, shared information and provided gloves that included the phone number for low-income legal services to each client.

The attorneys say that even in just a few minutes they can do a lot to help one of these clients.

"We can tell them which court they need to go to, which questions to ask. Sometimes they just need to fill out a form to get their benefits restarted," says Candice Vogel, co-chair of the Utah Pro Bono Week Celebration.

One man KSL News spoke with says, for him, it was at least a beginning.

"It's very helpful, because it calms you down and it just gets your mind where, if everybody can't help you, they can give you some good resources," Max says.

The attorneys are offering free legal clinics at 22 locations around the state this week. CLICK HERE for a list of times and locations.


September 25, 2009

Utah Lawyer Picked For Law Committee

Deseret News, September 24, 2009 -- Utah lawyer Paul Moxley has been appointed to serve on the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. The 15-member committee examines the qualifications of individuals nominated to the federal bench.

Moxley, who handles criminal law, white collar criminal defense and commercial litigation, was named Attorney of the Year by the Utah State Bar. He also formerly headed the state bar.

He is a partner in the Salt Lake City law firm of Parson Kinghorn Harris.

Copyright C 2009 Deseret News Publishing Co.
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

September 9, 2009

Distinguished Alumni Speaker series features Attorney Nate Alder

Cache Valley Daily

By Cache Valley Daily

Story Created: Sep 8, 2009 at 4:08 PM MDT

The USU College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences kicks off this year's Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series on Friday with Attorney Nathan "Nate" Alder as the guest speaker.

The presentation starts at at 11:30 a.m. in the Haight Alumni Center. HASS Dean Yolanda Flores Niemann, who established the series, says the event is to bring distinguished graduates back to campus to reflect on their education at USU and how it impacted their careers.

Alder is a seasoned litigator and leader in resolving complex legal disputes. A member of the Christensen and Jensen law firm, he represents individuals and corporations in preparing claims and defenses for mediation, arbitration and trial.

Alder served as president of the Utah State Bar in 2008-09. At USU Alder served as Academic Vice President and was in the Honors Program.

September 4, 2009

DA Making Defense Attorenys Pay For Paperwork

By Stephen Hunt
The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller says the budget crunch has her office charging defendants in criminal cases for materials they had been getting for free.

Starting this month, defense attorneys are paying for copies of police reports, photographs, videotapes and witness interviews.

Miller argues the administrative cost of processing such materials should be borne by defendants rather than taxpayers. But defense attorneys on Wednesday said they worry the multitiered fee schedule Miller has devised will mean delays in getting information needed to build their cases.

Added defense attorney Clayton Simms: "There is something fundamentally unfair about having to pay to see the evidence against you."

Continue reading "DA Making Defense Attorenys Pay For Paperwork" »

August 12, 2009

Chief Justice Durham to Lead National Organization

Williamsburg, Va. (Aug. 12, 2009) - Utah Chief Justice Christine M. Durham recently was elected chair of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). At the same time, Chief Justice Durham also was named president of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ), a national organization that represents the top judges of the 50 states and U.S. territories, and of which the NCSC serves as executive staff. Both positions are one-year terms. The appointments were made during the NCSC’s Board meeting and CCJ’s annual conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Since her appointment to Utah’s highest bench in 1982, Chief Justice Durham has been an effective ambassador for the judiciary,” said Mary C. McQueen, NCSC president. “She has championed the cause of judicial education and worked to improve the administration of justice for nearly 30 years. She will bring that knowledge and passion to her leadership roles with NCSC and CCJ.”

Continue reading "Chief Justice Durham to Lead National Organization" »

August 3, 2009

New Lawyers Now Pair With Veterans to "Learn The Ropes"

New lawyers now pair with veterans to 'learn the ropes'
New Utah Bar chief to focus on mentor program, pro bono services
By Stephen Hunt

The Salt Lake Tribune

The 350 prospective Utah lawyers who took the state bar exam Wednesday are supposedly qualified to hang out a shingle and practice in a court of law.

But many are recent law school graduates who have never written a legal motion, don't know where court is and might be startled when their keychain sets off the metal detectors at the courthouse door.

A new, mandatory Utah Supreme Court program promises to fill in gaps in the art of lawyering not covered in the classroom by pairing freshly minted attorneys with veteran mentors. Recently elected Bar President Stephen Owens, charged with implementing the New Lawyer Training Program, says it may be essential in a state like Utah.

"It's a very young bar," said Owens, who at 41 is older than half of the state's 7,500 active lawyers.

Continue reading "New Lawyers Now Pair With Veterans to "Learn The Ropes"" »

July 14, 2009

SLC Attorney To Head State Bar

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 | No Comments [ Add Comment ]
SLC attorney to head state bar

Press Release

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah lawyers elected Salt Lake City attorney Stephen W. Owens president of the Utah State Bar which licenses, disciplines, and provides continuing legal educational programs for Utah's 10,000 resident and non-resident attorneys. The new officers and commissioners will be sworn in by Chief Justice Christine M. Durham, Utah Supreme Court, on Friday.

Continue reading "SLC Attorney To Head State Bar" »

June 17, 2009

In The News - Racing for a cure: Judgesrun 5K inspires hundreds to fight breast cancer

Salt Lake Tribune

By Jon Gilbert

Special To The Tribune
Updated: 06/16/2009 03:21:50 PM MDT

In the summer of 1997, 12 runners gathered in Sugar House Park to run a 5K race to raise money for breast cancer research. They were inspired by the 10-year battle against breast cancer of their friend, Judge Anne Stirba.

Stirba died in 2001, her cancer proving too severe to overcome. Nevertheless, the runners still gather every year to complete the same race, now called the Judgesrun 5K, as they did on Saturday. Except now, they are comprised of an army of nearly 400 runners and walkers raising money for a cure.

Continue reading "In The News - Racing for a cure: Judgesrun 5K inspires hundreds to fight breast cancer" »

May 19, 2009

In Memory of Judge David K. Winder, 1932 - 2009

'Decent Dave' Winder dies at 76
By Linda Thomson
Deseret News
Published: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 6:32 p.m. MDT

U.S. District Judge David Kent Winder, 76, died Tuesday following a long illness.

President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Winder, a former prosecutor, attorney in private practice and a 3rd District state-court judge, to the federal bench in 1979. Judge Winder's polite and even-handed courtroom demeanor earned him many awards throughout his career and, early on, produced the nickname "Decent Dave."

"The American Lawyer" magazine in 1983 termed him the best district judge in the 10th Circuit and lauded him for being well-informed and well-prepared for the cases before him, praising his "compulsion to master the details of every matter before oral argument."

Judge Winder was known for his punctuality and a work ethic that included 12-hour days and reading legal documents on Saturdays to be fully aware of the contents of each one before court hearings took place.

U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said Tuesday that Judge Winder was "universally respected and admired" by those who work in U.S. Attorney's Office.

"We knew he would come to the bench each day having thoroughly studied the issues to be argued. He had a perfect judicial temperament," Tolman said. "He never demanded respect; he earned it. He treated everyone who appeared before him with fairness and dignity. His contributions to the federal bench and his example as a judge will long be remembered."

Judge Winder was born in Salt Lake City in 1932, graduated from Granite High School, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-52, got an English degree from the University of Utah in 1955 and received his law degree from Stanford University in 1958.

Nate Alder, president of the Utah State Bar, recalls being a fresh-from-college law clerk in 1995 with a tiny office just down the hall from Judge Winder.

"Every lawyer in town appreciated him," Alder said. "He was the epitome of what a judge should be: prepared, professional, civil, personable, fair. He just brought a level of sophistication to the bench that everyone appreciated, and he was the standard-bearer for years. I think a lot of people decided to become judges because he was such a great judge."

Alder also said Judge Winder inspired attorneys to do their best legal work, because it would be unseemly to appear before such a hard-working judge unprepared.

"He was universally loved and respected by lawyers," Alder said. "When he ruled against you, you knew exactly why, and you felt he was fair."

During his career, Judge Winder worked as an assistant U.S. attorney, became chief deputy district attorney and was a partner in the Salt Lake City law firm Strong & Hanni.

Former Utah Gov. Scott Matheson in 1977 appointed Judge Winder to a judgeship in the state district court. The Utah State Bar bestowed the accolade of "Judge of the Year" on him one year after the appointment.

Judge Winder's son, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder, recalls his father as a "wonderful" and "very generous" parent who was deeply involved in his family's regular activities and also created great memories through family travel.

"For many years, he took us on annual jaunts all around. There was one memorable experience in Africa in the 1970s," Sheriff Winder said. "In his younger years, he was quite an explorer himself. He had toured Europe, and he climbed the Matterhorn. That was one of his adventures. He was a man of many facets."

Sheriff Winder also noted that his father had many friends, especially in the legal and law enforcement communities, who stayed in contact and visited frequently, even after Judge Winder's health began to decline about three years ago.

"We have seen the best in people," Sheriff Winder said.

A public viewing will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, at the U.S. District Courthouse, 350 S. Main Street, in Salt Lake City.

The interment will be a private, family-only affair, but Sheriff Winder said plans are under way for a public memorial service to be held in the future.

Judge Winder was preceded in death by his wife, Pamela Martin Winder. Besides Sheriff Winder and his wife, Shawn, Judge Winder also is survived by his other children and their spouses, Ann and Larry Bugni, and Kay and James Mitchell.


Respected Utah federal judge David Winder dies
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 05/19/2009 04:12:10 PM MDT

U.S. District Judge David Winder, once nicknamed "Decent Dave" for his courtesy to those appearing in his courtroom, died today at the age of 76 after a long illness.

Memorial services are still being planned.

Winder first became a judge in 1977, when then-Gov. Scott Matheson named him to the state's 3rd District Court. The next year, he was voted Judge of the Year by the Utah State Bar.

He was appointed to the federal bench in Utah in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. At his investiture ceremony, he quoted Sir Thomas More in "A Man for all Seasons," describing the law as "causeway upon which, so long as he keeps it lit, a citizen may walk safely."

He added: "I hope that during the many years that I plan to spend on the bench, that I will not encumber that causeway, and will, in some small way, help to keep it safe for the passage of our citizens," according to a statement from Utah's federal court.

In 1983, according to the court's statement, The American Lawyer magazine named Winder the best district judge in the Tenth Circuit, praising his efficiency and attention to detail. The magazine described him as "the best of a new breed of younger, more professional judges."

Winder's zeal for preparation and punctuality was legendary, the courts' statement said, noting his common work hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

Winder was born in Salt Lake City in 1932. After graduation from Granite High School, he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1952. He earned an English degree at the University of Utah in 1955 and graduated from Stanford Law School in 1958.

He worked as an assistant U. S. Attorney and at Salt Lake City law firm Strong & Hanni before he was named to the state bench.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Pamela Martin Winder, and is survived by his three children and their spouses: Ann and Larry Bugni, Kay and James Mitchell, and Salt Lake County Sheriff James Winder and his wife, Shawn.

May 16, 2009

Daily Herald - Provo: Bar elects first Utah County lawyer in 35 years as president

Saturday, 16 May 2009
Bar elects first Utah County lawyer in 35 years as president Print E-mail
Ace Stryker - Daily Herald

PROVO -- It wouldn't have been a great leap to predict Robert L. Jeffs would end up in law.
"My father, my uncle, all of my brothers are attorneys," he said. "My entire immediate family is attorneys."

Jeffs, who grew up in Provo, attended Brigham Young University and graduated from the school's J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1984. He joined the family's Provo-based firm, Jeffs & Jeffs PC, immediately afterward.

The way he tells it, it wasn't even a great leap for him to run for a spot on the Utah State Bar Commission six years ago.

"I come from a background that I think is very rich in the practice of law, which has been very good to me and my family," he said. "It's something I feel like I owe back to the profession."

He won a spot representing the lawyers of Utah, Wasatch, Juab and Millard counties by a vote of that group. The Utah State Bar is responsible for licensing and disciplining lawyers and for public service, among other things. Those responsibilities are delegated by the Utah Supreme Court, which bears the duties under the state Constitution.

The great leap, in fact, only came recently, when Jeffs decided to run for president of the organization. Before he ran, no Utah County lawyer had held the position in more than 35 years. That's technically still true -- but as of earlier this month, the streak is destined to break when Jeffs takes the office in July 2010.

"When I originally became a bar commissioner, I had no interest whatsoever in becoming bar president," he said. "The demands of the job, the nature of the job just wasn't something I thought I'd be interested in."

Indeed, Jeffs said he anticipates about half of his professional time will go toward the volunteer job when he takes office. But the encouragement of fellow lawyers "pushed [him] over the edge," he said, and he won more of the vote among statewide attorneys than Felshaw King, his challenger from Kaysville.

Jeffs said he's excited for the opportunity to be an advocate for Utah County and surrounding areas, which have been historically underrepresented.

"By and large, appointments and service positions are dominated by attorneys from Salt Lake County," he said. "I can help influence that. More attorneys from our community will be involved in leadership positions for the bar."

He said he also plans to build relationships between attorneys and both the public and the state Legislature. Jeffs's father, M. Dayle Jeffs, attorney at Jeffs & Jeffs and a former bar commissioner, said he's proud to see his son take on the job, but he doesn't expect it to be easy.

"It's an opportunity -- but of service," he said. "You put in many dozens of hours as president of the bar, and you do it for the good of the system."

Robert Jeffs will be sworn in as president-elect this July. He takes office as president a year later, and will remain in the position for a year.

March 5, 2009

Oak Canyon students join 'We the People'
The Daily Herald [Provo, UT]
February 28, 2009

Oak Canyon students join 'We the People'

Linda Butler - North County staff

Oak Canyon students in Curtis Nguyen's U.S. History Honors Prep classes have taken an active involvement in understanding our country's Constitution, Congress and government through their participation in the "We the People" program.

Continue reading "Oak Canyon students join 'We the People'" »

February 10, 2009

Deseret News: The Winners and Losers

Deseret News
Published: Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009 12:34 a.m. MST

Winner: The Utah State Bar is beginning a program that encourages seasoned attorneys to act as volunteer mentors to those who are fresh out of law school. Officials hope this will serve a couple of purposes. First, it will help young lawyers learn the ropes of the profession, which can be especially helpful to those in private practice who may not have learned practical business skills in college. Second, the collegiality will help foster greater civility among attorneys. That's always a good strategy in a field where adversity and competition often rule the day.

February 9, 2009

Salt Lake Tribune: Jewish and Muslim children join in song

Jewish and Muslim children join in song

by Julia Lyon
The Salt Lake Tribune

Upset by killings in Mumbai last year and aware that innocent people were dying on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Alan Bachman set out to write a song about similarities.

He wanted to express how two groups that have a long history of conflict are descended from the same ancestor.

Months later, dozens of Muslim and Jewish children stood just feet from each other Sunday in the LDS Church Tabernacle in Salt Lake City and sang the same melody.

Continue reading "Salt Lake Tribune: Jewish and Muslim children join in song" »

December 4, 2008

People with limited resources need access to the civil courts

Nathan D. Alder

Updated: 12/03/2008 08:23:58 PM MST

Salt Lake Tribune

nate_alder_color.jpgFallout from the economic crisis is readily apparent. Those who are suffering the most are the very poor who are unable to meet even their most basic needs.

As an individual, I am concerned for the immediate welfare of our fellow Utahns -- ensuring that people obtain safety, food, shelter, income and the basic services that promote self-sufficiency. As an attorney, I think about the role that the law plays in helping people meet these basic needs.

Continue reading "People with limited resources need access to the civil courts" »

November 24, 2008

Utah State Bar goes 'green' at its fall forum

Utah State Bar goes 'green' at its fall forum
By Linda Thomson

Deseret News

Published: Friday, Nov. 21, 2008 4:42 p.m. MST

It isn't unusual for lawyers to have meetings, but the Utah State Bar added a new element to its fall forum: an entire day of seminars on "green law practice" to help members create environmentally friendly offices, reduce the use of paper and find ways to spread the word to those outside the world of law.

Continue reading "Utah State Bar goes 'green' at its fall forum " »

October 22, 2008

Deseret News - Utah AG urges 'civility'

Utah AG urges 'civility'
Published: October 22, 2008,5143,705257242,00.html

In a world that's becoming increasingly partisan and coarse, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is urging his colleagues to be civil.

Shurtleff is joining Utah Supreme Court justices, members of the Utah State Bar, the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert in signing a pledge to be civil. They will put pen to paper and sign the rules during the annual Dialogue on Democracy dinner at the Little America on Thursday night.

"We can disagree without being disagreeable and engage in spirited public debates without scaring everyone away from public service," Shurtleff said in a statement.

The pledge declares that it is not an appeal for everyone to "get along." Spirited debate is still welcome, but sniping is not. The pledge sets rules that include remembering the rights and dignity of each individual, respecting others, refraining from incivility and rekindling community building.

No word if members of the often-cantankerous Utah State Legislature plan to sign it.

— Ben Winslow

October 20, 2008

State Bar Leaders Urge Presidential Candidates to Act on Civil Justice Issues

State Bar Leaders Urge Presidential Candidates to Act on Civil Justice Issues

Letter, Signed by More Than 30 Bar Presidents from Across the Nation, Sent to Presidential Candidates

PDF Version

ALBANY, NY (10/20/2008; 1243)(readMedia)-- State bar presidents from across the country have joined together, calling on presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama to address a number of critical legal issues and policy topics confronting the nation during their respective bids for the White House. Signed by the leaders of 33 state bar associations, a letter focusing on substantive legal issues and challenges that lawyers, citizens and state bar presidents confront on a daily basis was sent to each candidate's campaign staff. The letter emanated from a summit recently convened by New York State Bar Association President Bernice K. Leber (Arent Fox LLP) in New York City.

Continue reading "State Bar Leaders Urge Presidential Candidates to Act on Civil Justice Issues" »

October 3, 2008

The Utah State Bar is reaching out to the community

By Rachelle Killpack

Story Created: Sep 23, 2008
Story Updated: Sep 23, 2008

The Utah State Bar is reaching out to the community It wants to help Utahns who need to hire a lawyer but don't know where to start.

The bar launched a Web site ( to help match attorneys with potential clients.

The Bar president says the directory provides a simple-to-use online listing of participating lawyers and can be searched to match attorneys with a particular legal specialty or situation.
The site has an information section that explains what a lawyer's duties are suggestions for selecting a lawyer and ideas for controlling legal costs.

So far, over six hundred Utah lawyers are taking part in the program.

September 15, 2008

Judicial review panel names its chairman

Published: September 14, 2008,5620,700258713,00.html?printView=true

The newly created Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission at its first meeting this week chose attorney V. Lowry Snow to be commission chairman. Snow also has served as past president of the Utah State Bar.

The 13-member commission also is seeking an executive director.

The state Legislature this year revised the judicial performance evaluation process to oversee the evaluation and retention recommendations for the 219 judges and justices in Utah's court system. The commission is comprised of citizens nominated by the governor, Senate, House of Representatives and the Utah Supreme Court. Its membership also includes the executive director of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.

© 2008 Deseret News Publishing Company | All rights reserved

September 5, 2008

State Bar launches 'find a lawyer' directory

State Bar launches 'find a lawyer' directory

The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 09/04/2008 01:49:58 PM MDT

Posted: 1:49 PM-

The Utah State Bar has launched a new Web site in an effort to help people seek attorneys and better understand how to successfully work with a lawyer.

The new "Find A Utah Lawyer Directory" is available at

A question-and-answer session at the site narrows the seeker's location, then a map lists lawyers in the seeker's county. The results include a lawyer's years of practice, location, area of practice and spoken language.

There are 427 lawyers participating in the voluntary program, which includes every county. There are 21 languages represented, including Farsi, Korean, Samoan and American Sign Language.

The bar anticipates more than 1,000 lawyers will volunteer by the year's end.

- Steve Gehrke

Utah Supreme Court hears legal sanctions arguments

Utah Supreme Court hears legal sanctions arguments

Associated Press Writer

Utah's Supreme Court will decide whether a pair of attorneys representing a death row inmate should be sanctioned for violating a legal rule in a post-conviction appeal filing.
The Utah Attorney General's Office has asked for the sanctions, claiming that about a third of the 120 claims made by defense attorneys Edward K. Brass and Lynn Donaldson on behalf of Michael Anthony Archuleta were already decided by an earlier appeal or not supported by either factual evidence or law.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Brunker said the misstep — a violation of Rule 11 — was pointed out to Brass and Donaldson in January 2004, but the attorneys failed to correct it within the 21-day time period allowed.

Sanctions could range from monetary fines to disciplinary action by the Utah State Bar. Brunker said he withdrew a request for monetary sanctions and only wants a declaration from the court that Brass and Donaldson violated the rule.

"We want to get the playing field defined," he said.

Brass and attorney Richard Mauro, who represents Donaldson, deny any impropriety or unethical behavior and contend that they only sought to preserve every possible avenue of appeal for Archuleta.

The issue was argued before the Utah Supreme Court on appeal Thursday. A 4th District Court judge already held a daylong hearing and ruled that Brass and Donaldson made no deliberate attempt to deceive the court.

Brass said he thought justices should give deference to the 17-page opinion from Judge Donald J. Eyre, who found "there was no deception, there was no unethical behavior that he wasn't deceived and there wasn't an effort to deceive him."

Brass also said no lawyer should get a "pass" for unethical behavior, but hoped the court would consider a rule that prohibits seeking sanctions when cases are still pending. The effect is like shoving "a stick into our bicycle spokes," Brass said.

"What that does is put us automatically, in the middle of litigation, at odds with our client," he said.

After the hearing, Mauro said the state's actions against Brass and Donaldson are part of an effort to dissuade defense attorneys from taking death penalty appeals cases.

"This is a personal attack on lawyers who do this work," Mauro said. "That's what our big concern is with this filing. The state now is not attacking the message (the appeal). They're attacking the messenger and that is the lawyer."

Mauro said the state's case against Brass and Donaldson has prompted other attorneys to refuse to take other death penalty appeals out of fear they'll face similar allegations. That could leave some wrongly-convicted death row inmates without a chance for exoneration, he said.

"A lot of guys get relief on claims of actual innocence and on all kinds of issue in post conviction," Mauro said. "If you don't have competent lawyers that are doing that work, some of this information is never discovered and there's a risk that you execute an innocent person."

Brunker doesn't deny the Brass/Donaldson case addresses a larger concern about post-conviction appeals that typically include the filing of massive petitions.

"We want to use it to curb abusive litigation and filing of these mega petitions, he said. It's just slowing it down and we're trying to stop that. That is our motive."

From a practical standpoint, the state's Rule 11 complaint shouldn't delay Archuleta's appeal, Brunker said.

Donaldson and Brass no longer represent Archuleta, who was recently appointed a new attorney.

Archuleta has been on death row since 1989. He was convicted of the 1988 rape, torture and death of a southern Utah college student in the mountains near Cedar City.

One of Archuleta's original defense attorneys was Ronald Nehring, who is now an Associate Utah Supreme Court justice. Nehring recused himself from Thursday's hearing. Third District Judge Paul Maughan sat on the panel instead.

Associated Press

August 6, 2008

Logan Herald: Emergency responders get free estate help

Emergency responders get free estate help
By Matthew K. Jensen

Local attorneys donated time and services pro bono Friday, crafting dozens of wills and legal documents for valley police, fire and emergency personnel through a national program.

The Wills for Heroes Foundation was created by two young lawyers who wanted to help the families of victims following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Most of the 403 first responders at the World Trade Center did not have a will.

Today the program is active throughout the country and operates in Utah through the Young Lawyers Division of the Utah State Bar, said YLD spokesperson Stephanie Pugsley.

Lawyers volunteered their time at the event to help first responders draft three documents — a last will and testament, advance health care directive and durable power of attorney.

By 5 p.m., 120 people had documents in hand.

Local attorney and Utah Bar executive Herm Olsen called the Wills for Heroes program a great opportunity both for legal professionals and those receiving the help.

“As a bar association, this is a great way for us to contribute to those who really put their lives on the line for us,” he said. Olsen, like many of the lawyers involved, is not an estate attorney. But with the help of the YLD and a sophisticated software program called HotDocs, lawyers of all backgrounds can come together to serve the men and women who work a sometimes risky profession. “These people know that death is a real possibility — maybe sooner than other professions. It’s a little hard for people to think about this but it’s far better to suffer a momentary discomfort than to ignore the problem and leave a mess,” Olsen added.

Police officers, firefighters and first responders showed up Friday with a pre-filled questionnaire about their children, real estate and beneficiaries — information lawyers then entered into computers.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to do something we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise,” said Logan Assistant Fire Chief Brady Hansen. “Hopefully nothing bad ever happens, but provided it does, we have this done.”

After just 45 minutes with a lawyer, those lucky enough to have signed up early had a packet of legally notarized documents that could cost up to $1,000 to draft in a private setting.

Organizers stressed privacy was a big concern and told participants their information would be erased after printing their wills.

The YLD says it plans to return to Cache County in the future to help those who missed the first round.

Three Wills for Heroes events have been completed in Utah during 2008.

July 26, 2008

Salt Lake Tribune: Judge, lawyer of the year named

Judge, lawyer of the year named

The Salt Lake Tribune
- Stephen Hunt

Third District Judge Glenn Iwasaki was named "Judge of the Year" last week during the Utah State Bar Achievement Awards ceremony in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Salt Lake tax attorney Charles R. Brown was voted "Lawyer of the Year."

Utah State Bar President V. Lowry Snow was presented the bar's highest honors in recognition of outstanding service to the profession and the public, according to a news release.

Iwasaki was appointed in 1992 to the 3rd District Court, serving Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties. He graduated from the University of Utah College of Law in 1971 and served as a deputy Salt Lake County attorney.

Prior to his judicial appointment, Iwasaki was a partner in the law firm of Collard, Pixton, Iwasaki & Downes. Iwasaki has been an adjunct professor of law at the University of Utah, he has served as a member of the Utah Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Utah Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Judicial System.

Brown is a director with the Salt Lake City firm of Clyde Snow Sessions & Swenson. He is regularly involved in providing pro bono legal services, primarily in assisting those of limited means and military personnel and their families in the resolution of disputes with federal and state taxing authorities, according to a news release.
Brown received his juris doctor from the University of Utah College of Law in 1971.

Stephanie Wilkins Pugsley was recognized for her role as president of The Young Lawyers Division of the Bar, which brought the Wills for Heroes program to Utah and provided more than 200 wills to Utah's first responders.

The Young Lawyers also served more than 1,000 people through Tuesday Night Bar, held a toy drive to benefit dozens of family support centers from St. George to Logan, held a school supplies drive for low income children and co-hosted the second annual Mentoring Marathon, which provided hands-on interview advice to more than 60 law students.

The bar also honored Judge James Davis and Steven T. Waterman, co-chairs of the Bar's Admissions Committee, which oversees the organization's application and admission process.

- Stephen Hunt

July 20, 2008

Deseret News: 3rd District judge is honored

3rd District judge is honored
By Linda Thomson
Deseret News
Published: July 19, 2008
The Utah State Bar this week honored 3rd District Judge Glenn Iwasaki as "Judge of the Year" at its annual summer convention.

Iwasaki was appointed to the bench in 1992 in the state court's 3rd District, which includes Salt Lake, Tooele and Summit counties. He received his law degree from the University of Utah and previously worked as deputy Salt Lake County attorney. Iwasaki also has been a partner in the law firm of Collard, Pixton, Iwasaki & Downs.

Among other things, Iwasaki has been an adjunct professor of law at the University of Utah, served on the Utah Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Judicial System, and also was part of the Utah Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Iwasaki, whose family was held in an Idaho internment camp for people of Japanese ancestry during World War II, was the 13th ethnic minority admitted to the Utah State Bar in 1971.

He has said in an interview with the Deseret News that he decided to become a lawyer at age 14 because he saw this career as a way to help other people. He also was guided by his family's strong work ethic and the high expectations that his parents held for him and his siblings: Iwasaki became a lawyer and then a judge, his brother became an engineer and his sister became a nurse.

"We all went to college," Iwasaki said. "We never sat down and talked about it, but that was something that was expected of us."

The Utah State Bar also extended other honors at its achievement awards gathering on Friday.

• Charles R. Brown is the group's "Lawyer of the Year." Brown is a tax attorney and director with Clyde Snow Sessions & Swenson, a Salt Lake City firm. He often provides free legal help to low-income people, and also helps those in the military and their families with disputes over federal and state taxes.

• The Young Lawyers Division of the Bar, which is headed by attorney Stephanie Wilkins Pugsley, was recognized for its community service efforts, which most recently include the "Wills for Heroes" program to help those in the military. The group also has held a toy drive, provided school supplies for low-income children, and co-hosted a mentoring marathon offering interview advice to more than 60 law students.

• The Admissions Committee, headed by Judge James Z. Davis and Steven T. Waterman, also was recognized for its efforts to improve the rules involving admission to the bar, the application process, the bar exam and the reviews to assess an individual's character.

December 27, 2007

Tradewinds; State Bar's drive raises cash, donations for needy; White House Announces Appointment of Blind Attorney From Utah to Access Board Voice of the Nation's Blind

Compiled by Brianna Lange
Article Last Updated: 12/26/2007 11:33:39 PM MST

Paul Felt, a Salt Lake City attorney, has received the Peter W. Billings Sr. Award for Excellence in Dispute Resolution from the Utah State Bar's Dispute Resolution Section. Felt, who has a private practice, received the award for his mediation and arbitration achievements. He has mediated more than 3,000 cases, 90 percent of which were settled.

Continue reading "Tradewinds; State Bar's drive raises cash, donations for needy; White House Announces Appointment of Blind Attorney From Utah to Access Board Voice of the Nation's Blind" »

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