Salt Lake City, UT— The Utah Judiciary belongs to the people of Utah. The work of the courts is to provide an open, fair, efficient and independent system to advance access to justice under the law. Fairness is the basic premise of our system of justice. The goal is a fair process that produces a just result. The goal cannot be achieved in a system tainted by racism and bias.
Today, the Utah Judicial Council, as part of its ongoing commitment to identify and eradicate racism and bias from the judicial system, announced the establishment of the Office of Fairness and Accountability. The Office is created to organize and lead the Utah courts in examining and addressing racism and other forms of bias within the system. The Office will work collaboratively both within the courts, and with individuals and entities outside the system, including the Executive and Legislative branches of government. It will focus on, among other items, outreach to marginalized communities; data collection and research; and judge and employee education.
The Office will enhance the Judiciary’s efforts to address inequities and to provide greater access to our courts; especially for those who, whether due to race, socio-economic status or some other factor, have been marginalized or have otherwise been unable to access the rule of law on equal footing with their fellow Americans.
We hope that, now, more than ever, we can receive increased public input regarding how we can continue to reform as we strive toward the more perfect Union our constitution promises.
Utah’s Judicial Branch, through a new Administrative Order, has adopted a Risk Response Plan that sets forth safety and operational requirements for courts as they move through three risk phases: Red, Yellow, and Green. The plan also includes guidelines for conducting jury trials and Juvenile Court hearings.
The risk phases for the courts are not the same as the Governor’s risk phases. The courts created a pandemic response plan in September 2009, adopting three risk phases at that time.
While the Judicial Branch takes into account the Governor’s color coded risk phases as it considers court operations, it has chosen a more cautious approach because it recognizes that among the three branches of government, the courts have the power to compel people to appear in court, either for a hearing, or for jury service.
Currently, all court locations are operating under the Red phase. This means, critical court functions continue, and courts are conducting many other criminal and civil proceedings, but most hearings and services are being done remotely. Jury trials will not resume until a court moves into the Yellow phase, and then only if strict safety protocols are followed.
The new Risk Response Plan lays out a process by which courts in a county may seek approval from the Judicial Council to move to the Yellow phase. The council will approve the request to move to the Yellow phase when the local health department confirms that the rate of transmission for the county in which the court is located is consistently decreasing, or is stable at a level well below the level that would overwhelm the Utah healthcare system. Courts can resume in-person operations under the Yellow phase if the appropriate safeguards outlined in the Risk Response Plan are followed. Based on recommendations from state health officials, the courts do not anticipate any court transitioning to the Green phase in the foreseeable future. The Court’s administrative order can be read here.
The Utah Supreme Court invites comments to the following proposed rule amendments. The comment period expires August 1, 2020.
Rules of Professional Conduct
RPC06.05. Short-term Limited Legal Services. AMEND. Broadens the term “short-term legal services” to include one-time consultations and representations through government- and law school-sponsored programs. Further provides that other lawyers in a firm are not disqualified from representing clients whose interests are adverse to a client who received short-term limited legal services from a lawyer in the firm if (1) the lawyer who provided the services is timely screened from the adverse clients’ matters, and (2) receives no fees from those matters.
Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession
RPC08.04. Misconduct. AMEND. Provides that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct that is an unlawful, discriminatory, or retaliatory employment practice under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Utah Antidiscrimination Act. “Employer” means any person or entity that employs one or more persons. The amendments also provide that it is professional misconduct for a lawyer to egregiously violate, or engage in a pattern of repeated violations, of the Standards of Professionalism and Civility if such violations harm the lawyer’s client or another lawyer’s client or are prejudicial to the administration of justice.
Rules Governing the Utah State Bar
Standards of Professionalism and Civility
USB14-0301. Standards of Professionalism and Civility. AMEND. Rule 8.4(h) makes the provisions of this rule mandatory for all lawyers. Amendments further provide that lawyers shall avoid hostile, demeaning, humiliating, or discriminatory conduct in law-related activities. Law-related activities include, but are not limited to, settlement negotiations; depositions; mediations; court appearances; CLE’s; events sponsored by the Bar, Bar sections, or Bar associations; and firm parties. Discriminatory conduct includes all discrimination against protected classes as those classes are enumerated in the Utah Antidiscrimination Act of 1965, Utah Code section 34A-5-106(1)(a), and federal statutes, as amended from time to time.
How to View Redline Text of the Proposed Amendment
To see the proposed rule amendments and submit comments, click on this link: https://www.utcourts.gov/utc/rules-comment/, then click on the rule number.
How to Submit Comments
You can comment and view the comments of others by clicking on the “CONTINUE READING” link associated with each body of rules. After clicking on the “CONTINUE READING” link, you will be asked for your name and your email address. The comment website is public but your email address will not be published. Each comment must be approved by the site administrator before it will show on the public website. Although all comments will be considered, they will not be acknowledged with a response. If you have any questions, please contact the committee staff person. The list of committees and staff persons may be found at: https://www.utcourts.gov/committees/.
The Utah State Bar’s 2020 election results are in. Heather Thuet is the Bar’s new President-elect. Marty Moore was elected commissioner from the First Division and Traci Gunderson, Andrew Morse and Mark Morris were elected commissioners from the Third Division. Thanks to all who participated.
Salt Lake City, UT — The Utah Supreme Court has recognized the lack of affordable legal services can be devastating for many people. Between free but limited legal aid, and standard attorney service that can easily exceed $200 an hour, there are few options for affordable legal help.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of finding new, affordable, and high-quality innovations as quickly as possible.
That is why the Supreme Court is offering expedited review and approval of proposals from individuals and entities who believe they can offer low-cost, or no-cost, legal advice for small businesses, people with unemployment issues, and others.
“Americans need and deserve access to affordable legal services,” said Utah Supreme Court Justice Deno Himonas, who heads the Utah Implementation Task Force on Regulatory Reform. “For decades, we in the legal profession have tried to volunteer ourselves across the access-to-justice gap. Under that approach, we’ve witnessed the gap grow into a crisis. And now COVID-19 and its aftermath threaten so many of us with severe legal consequences. The Utah Supreme Court’s regulatory reform efforts offer a way to harness innovation and market forces to improve the delivery of much-needed legal services to all.”
Today, the Utah Supreme Court announced the proposed set of comprehensive regulatory reforms. The announcement comes after many months of careful work and study by a group of state and national legal experts.
A pilot regulatory sandbox has been created to provide a safe space for experimentation while being monitored for safety and effectiveness. An Office of Legal Services Innovation will be created to assist the Utah Supreme Court with respect to overseeing and regulating the practice of law by nontraditional legal service providers or by traditional providers offering nontraditional legal services.
The proposed reforms are the first in a series of changes that will open up Utah’s legal industry to new and more modern ways of offering legal advice at a lower cost. The goal is to fill in the access-to-justice gap with a variety of new, forward-thinking, services for Utah residents. Last year, the Supreme Court approved the Licensed Paralegal Professional. An LPP can help people with family and debt collection matters, such as divorce, civil stalking, custody and support, and small claims cases. Moving forward, the Supreme Court is expecting more innovations will be forthcoming.
Click here for the proposed rule changes:
The Utah Supreme Court issues the following Order. This Order modifies the Bar Examination passage requirement on an emergency basis for certain eligible law school graduates and attorneys from other jurisdictions in good standing, based upon the Utah Supreme Court’s constitutionally granted authority to regulate the practice of law in Utah, and in consideration of the public health threat currently posed by the novel infectious coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Utah Supreme Court is accepting comments on a proposed order to temporarily amend procedures for admission to the Bar. The proposed Order would modify the Bar Examination passage requirement on an emergency basis for certain eligible law school graduates, based upon the Utah Supreme Court’s constitutionally granted authority to regulate the practice of law in Utah, and in consideration of the public health threat currently posed by the novel infectious coronavirus (COVID-19). The Court will accept comments on this proposed Order through April 16, 2020. http://www.utcourts.gov/utc/rules-comment/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2020/04/04.09.20-PROPOSED-ORDER-re-Bar-Waiver-final.pdf
Bar President Herm Olsen sent the following letter to the governor on March 26. Similar letters will go to other city and county government officials. http://www.utahbar.org/…/uploads/2020/03/REVISED-letter-to-…
Utah State Bar Practice Portal
Following are the steps to register and take an online course through your Utah State Bar Practice Portal.
Go to www.utahbar.org, select Practice Portal. It may ask you to log in at this point. Once logged in, select “Practice Portal” again. Scroll down to a box on the left entitled, “CLE Management.” Select “Online Events” in the center at the top of that box. Then select “Register for Online Courses” at the bottom of the box. It will take you to our courses. In the “search” box at the top, enter “professionalism.” Please note the format as our courses are offered in audio only or in audio and video format at the price of $37.50 (per credit hour). Once you have paid and viewed the course, you must answer the questionnaire after in order to download your certificate of attendance.
Here are the links to the two other Bar approved sites:
Webcredenza offers Audio Webcasts & MP3 Downloads for $65 per credit hour
Mesa offers On Demand & Live Webcasts for $50 per credit hour
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law offers self-study CLE through our video archive on YouTube. Members of the Utah State Bar can watch one of the archived videos, request a CLE completion certificate, and submit the CLE request ($10 fee) to the Utah State Bar using Self-Study Form 5. The CLE videos may be accepted by other states. Check with your local bar association. By accepting a College of Law CLE completion certificate, you are certifying that you watched the CLE course in its entirety. Self-study is subject to state bar approval.
BYU Law Library – Please contact the Library at (801-422-3593) to see if they have changed their policy requiring material to be picked up in person.
Salt Lake City, UT— In accordance with the joint Utah Supreme Court and Utah Judicial Council Administrative Order dated March 21, 2020 encouraging social distancing, the Utah Court of Appeals today held its first oral argument by videoconference. Judges Diana Hagen, Ryan Harris, and David Mortensen participated in the panel.
According to Presiding Judge Gregory Orme: “Only a few years ago, social distancing would have meant canceling the scheduled oral arguments in the many cases where we believe that oral argument will help us to decide the cases correctly. Fortunately, the technology now available, and our talented administrative team and incredible IT department, allowed us to simply shift the oral arguments from our courtroom to our computer screens. I was very pleased today that our hearing in an important criminal case came off without a hitch.”
Other courts, including District and Juvenile courts, have reported success in setting up online hearings to handle critical cases. The Utah Courts are committed to providing important services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit our COVID-19 page for more information: