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June 30, 2010

July Holiday Hours: Independence Day

4thofjuly.jpgThe Law Library, as well as all Utah State Courts, will be closed Monday, July 5 in honor of Independence Day.

The 4th of July became a designated Federal holiday in 1870. Today it is a legal public holiday that many State and private employers also recognize as paid vacations for employees.

To read about historical Independence Day celebrations, check out the Library of Congress' Today in History page.

A list of all state and federal holidays observed by the Utah State Courts is available here.

June 28, 2010

Wireless password: sauce

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of June 28, 2010 is sauce.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

Fireworks & the Law - 2010 Update

Last year we blogged about fireworks and the law, and made note of specific state laws and regulations you should be aware of when setting off fireworks, as well as purchasing them. It's important to note that there have been changes to the Utah-approved firework list since the last one was published in 2009. The new list was approved on June 23, 2010.

Check Utah Code 53-7-225 for approved dates for the sale and discharge of fireworks. More information about fireworks safety in Utah can be found on the fire marshal's page.

June 24, 2010

Law Library Classes on Summer Vacation

sunglasses_and_towel.jpgThe Law Library's public class series will be taking a break during the month of July. We'll publish our list of August classes in late July.

If you absolutely cannot wait until August, see our post about Classes on DVD for information about ways to watch recordings of previous classes.

Enjoy your summer!

June 23, 2010

New Utah Judges

ct frontview.jpgWe recently blogged about How Utah Judges are Selected. Now that you've read that entry, you may also be looking for information about judicial vacancies and announcement after a judge has been appointed or confirmed.

Press releases announcing judicial vacancies and names submitted to the governor for nomination to the bench are posted on the Utah State Courts News Releases and Media Advisories page. This page also has an RSS feed and you can follow court news on Facebook and Twitter.

The governor's office also issues a press release when the governor submits his nomination to the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee.

There isn't an easy way to follow what happens when the full senate convenes to vote on a nominee, other than watching for media stories or listening to live or archived audio recordings of these sessions. If the senate convenes to vote on a confirmation when the legislature is not already in session, the sessions are called Extraordinary Sessions. The audio from those sessions is available here.

Since August, Governor Herbert has nominated 9 judges for confirmation by committee and after that, approval by the entire senate.

The district court and appellate court judges nominated and confirmed are:
1. Judge Edwin Peterson, 8th District Court, replaced Judge John Anderson, confirmed on Sept. 16, 2009
2. Judge Frederic Voros, Court of Appeals, replaced Judge Judith Billings, confirmed on Nov. 18, 2009
3. Judge Thomas Low, 4th District Court, replaced Judge Gary Stott, confirmed on Jan. 12, 2010
4. Judge Keith Kelly, 3rd District Court, replaced Judge Sheila McCleve, confirmed on Jan. 12, 2010
5. Judge Stephen Roth, Court of Appeals, replaced Judge Pamela Greenwood, confirmed on Feb. 25, 2010
6. Judge Michele Christiansen, Court of Appeals, replaced Judge Russell Bench, confirmed May 19, 2010
7. Judge Robert Dale, 2nd District Court, replaced Judge Rodney Page, confirmed June 23, 2010
8. Judge James Brady, 4th District Court, replaced Judge Howard Maetani, confirmed June 23, 2010
9. Justice Thomas Lee, Supreme Court, replaced Justice Michael Wilkins, confirmed June 23, 2010

Your Right to Government Records

recordsrequest.bmpUtah laws protect the public’s right to know what the government is doing and why by providing access to government records and meetings. Exercising these rights empowers citizens to play an active role in their government.

Utah’s public records law, the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), makes government records public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute. A similar law, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), applies to federal records.

To obtain a government record in Utah, ask the holder of the record for access, which is free, or for a copy. The record holder can require the requester to put the request in writing and can charge for copies. The Utah Attorney General's website provides a sample form for making a record request. A government entity is not required to create a record in order to satisfy a request for information.

Utah’s right to government records is not absolute. Records that are classified as private, controlled, protected or limited do not have to be disclosed.

Should the record holder deny a request, the requester has 30 days to appeal to the office’s chief administrative officer.

If the chief administrative officer does not disclose the record, the requester can appeal

  • directly to the district court or
  • first to the State Records Committee and second, if the State Records Committee refuses access, to the district court.
GRAMA is a very detailed law and should be read carefully. The Utah Attorney General has published two guides on the topic of open records and open meetings that may help you understand the law:

June 22, 2010

New Book: State and Metropolitan Area Data Book

databook0001.jpgNeed to find recent Utah population statistics? Wondering how many homeowners there are in this state? Curious about our marriage and birth rates? Need to know the number public school teachers?

You can find statistics for Utah and for every state in the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book published by the U.S. Government Printing Office. We receive this book as part of the Federal Depository Library.

The Metropolitan data section breaks down statistics into larger regions such as Provo-Orem, St. George, Salt Lake City, and Logan. There is even a Micropolitan data section (cities defined as having a population of up to 50,000 but also having an urban population of at least 10,000) providing statistics for cities such as Brigham City, Heber, and Price.

Older versions of the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book are available online through the U.S. Census website.

June 21, 2010

Wireless Password: roast

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of June 21, 2010 is roast.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

June 18, 2010

100th Anniversary of Father's Day

father_with_child.jpgThis Sunday families across the nation will be celebrating Father's Day. Did you know 2010 is the 100th year this holiday will be celebrated? The U.S. Census Bureau has put together some interesting facts about fathers in the U.S. to commemorate the holiday's Centennial.

In 1909, Sonora Dodd, a Spokane, Washington resident, wanted a holiday to honor her father, who raised six children by himself. The mayor of Spokane chose June of 1910 to hold the holiday. June was the birth month of Ms. Dodd's father. Father's Day officially became an American holiday, to be celebrated the third Sunday in June, in 1972. The law was codified at 36 U.S.C. §109.

For some suggestions on how to celebrate Father's Day, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Family Assistance has several lists of activities fathers and families can do.

June 16, 2010

Court of Appeals Briefs

The library has received 24 Court of Appeal briefs. The docket numbers range from 20050557 to 20090402 (list not inclusive).

If you're looking for a specific brief, contact the library by phone (801-238-7990) or email to make sure we have it. If you can't come in to make copies yourself, we offer a document delivery service for 25¢ per page and will scan the briefs and email them to you.

June 14, 2010

Wireless Password: quail

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of June 14, 2010 is quail.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

June 10, 2010

Flag Day

flag.jpegMonday June 14th is Flag Day, a holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Continental Congress adopting the Stars and Stripes as the official U.S. Flag on June 14, 1777.

If you own a flag and plan to display it, you should follow the guidelines for flag display established at 4 U.S.C. Chapter 1. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has published guidelines on their website. For instance, if you display your flag after sunset, make sure it's illuminated.

To learn more about Flag Day and the history of the United States flag, check out these resources:

June 07, 2010

Wireless Password: pasta

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of June 7, 2010 is pasta.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

June 04, 2010

How Utah Judges are Selected

robes.jpgYou may have seen or heard the recent news stories about the governor's choices for new judges for Utah's courts, including a justice of the Supreme Court, three judges for the Court of Appeals and several district court and juvenile court judges.

The Judicial Selection Act (Utah Code §78A-10-101 et seq.) governs the procedure for selecting judges for courts of record.*

Each of Utah's eight judicial districts has its own Trial Court Nominating Commission which screens applicants for district and juvenile court judge positions. The Appellate Court Nominating Commission screens applicants for Court of Appeals and Supreme Court vacancies. After screening the applicants, the judicial nominating commission interviews candidates and submits the names of three to five finalists to the governor to choose from.

After the governor picks an appointee, the Utah Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee must recommend or reject that appointment. The Judicial Confirmation Committee's procedure for investing a nominee is governed by Senate Rule 24.04.1. These sessions are recorded, and you can listen to them at the commitee's home page.

If the appointee is recommended for confirmation, the entire state Senate votes on the recommendation. These sessions are recorded and the audio files are available at the Senate Floor Debates page.

The Utah Senate site maintains a list of upcoming Senate committee meetings. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds or email announcements from any Senate confirmation committee.

* In Utah a court of record includes the district court, juvenile court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. Justice courts are not courts of record.

June 03, 2010

Emancipation in Utah

ct frontview.jpgIn 2006, the Utah State legislature passed a law that provides statutory provisions for minors age 16 and older to petition the Utah Juvenile Court for emancipation. Prior to 2006, emancipation of a minor only existed in common law and was granted only in extraordinary circumstances. For more information about the initial passage of the law, see The "Lost Boys" Law: Governor Signs Emancipation Bill to Help Homeless Teens. The Utah Attorney General's office also provides more information about emancipation on the Youth 411 page.

Under the Emancipation of a Minor Act, if the court grants emancipation, the parental responsibilities of a parent, custodian or guardian are terminated. Utah Code 78A-6-805. However, even if the minor is emancipated, the minor does not acquire all legal rights of an adult. Most notably, an emancipated minor is not considered an adult under certain criminal laws and where there are other laws about age requirements, including voting and the use and purchase of alcohol and tobacco. Utah Code 78A-6-805.

At a court hearing, the court determines the best interest of the minor by considering the following factors:
1) whether the minor is capable of assuming adult responsibilities; 2) whether the minor is capable of living independently of his or her parents, guardian, or custodian; 3) opinions and recommendations from the guardian ad litem, parents, guardian, or custodian, and any other evidence; and 4) whether emancipation will create a risk of harm to the minor. A declaration of emancipation is made if the court determines that there is clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interests of the minor to grant it. Utah Code 78A-6-804.

To petition the court for emancipation, you can use these free forms provided by the Utah State Courts.