Evaluating Judicial Performance: How Judges Can Earn High Marks Even From Those Who Lose

by Jennifer MJ Yim
Conventional wisdom suggests that 50% of people appearing in court will walk away unhappy with their judge, their attorney, and the legal system in general. How could a criminal defendant sentenced to prison have positive things to say about the judge? When the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC) first discussed the statutory requirement to survey litigants and witnesses about judicial performance, some commissioners questioned how such surveying could result in anything but a 50-50 split, with winners praising the judge and losers voicing dissatisfaction. Many judges believe they are powerless to prevent half the participants leaving their courtrooms unhappy. (more…)

Ethical Conundrum? Try Asking the Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee

by Meb W. Anderson
It is five minutes to five and you are sitting in your office just about to leave for the weekend, when of course the phone rings. It is a former client calling from the county jail. He asks you to mail him his entire client file. You say, “OK, I’ll locate it and send it to you,” and you hang up. On the drive home, you recall that this particular client file contains explicit crime scene photos, third-party medical reports, victim identification information, psychological and psychosexual evaluations, and so on, and you also recollect that a number of these documents are subject to court-ordered restrictions. You also recall, albeit faintly, that at some point in your career someone told you that when a former client requests the file, the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct define what constitutes the file, and require that most, if not all, of it should be turned over to the client. (more…)

Utah State Bar Ethics Advisory Opinion Committee

Opinion No. 00-04
(Approved June 2, 2000
Issue: What are lawyer’s ethical duties to a third person who claims an interest in proceeds of a personal injury settlement or award received by the lawyer?

Opinion: When a lawyer receives funds or property and knows a third person claims an interest in the funds or property, the lawyer must first determine whether the third person has a sufficient interest to trigger the duties stated in Rule 1.15(b). Only a matured legal or equitable claim – such as a valid assignment, a judgment lien, or a statutory lien – constitutes an interest within the meaning of Rule 1.15 so as to trigger duties to third persons under Rule 1.15. If no such interest exists, the lawyer must comply with the duties stated in Rule 1.15. (more…)