« July 2010 | Main | September 2010 »

August 31, 2010

Reminder about Small Claims Cases

moneyToday is the last day you can file a small claims case in a district court in Utah. Beginning tomorrow, September 1, you must file a small claims action in a justice court. Our previous blog post on Changes to Small Claims Cases has more information about the changes.

Questions? You might be interested in the Small Claims Basics class offered the first Thursday of each month in the Utah State Law Library. To sign up for the class, contact the law library.

September Holiday Hours: Labor Day

Labor_Day.jpgThe law library, and all Utah State Courts, will be closed on Monday, September 6 for Labor Day. Regular hours resume Tuesday, September 7.

Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, but many states, including Utah, made it a legal holiday before that. Utah declared Labor Day a holiday in 1892, four years before it became a state. Historically, Labor Day was a workers' holiday organized by labor unions and gave workers a chance to talk about their problems with management. While some states and local organizations still host Labor Day parades, now the holiday is often thought of as the last long weekend of summer.

For more about the history of Labor Day, check out the Library of Congress' Today in History for September 5 and the Department of Labor's History of Labor Day.

Today, all Utah holidays are codified in the Utah Code at 63G-1-301.

August 30, 2010

Wireless Password: bulbs

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of August 30, 2010 is bulbs.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

August 27, 2010

Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution's 19th Amendment

National_Women's_Suffrage_Association.jpgThis month marks the 90th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. This amendment was won after decades of protest and activism by women's suffrage organizations.

In Utah the story of women's voting rights was unique because the right to vote for women was granted fifty years prior to the ratification of the 19th amendment. On February 12, 1870, the Territory of Utah's legislative assembly passed a law granting women 21 and over the right to vote. However, seven years later, the U.S. Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act in reaction to the practice of polygamy. Section 20 of that Act repealed Utah's law on women's right to vote. When Utah became a state in 1896, Article IV of the Utah Constitution granted equal voting rights to both men and women.

Many records and photographs exist from this movement and are available online. The Library of Congress has a digital collection of books and pamphlets published by women's suffragist organizations, selected from the library's National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection. The documents are from the 1850s to the 1910s. The Library of Congress also has an online exhibit of photographs of suffragists and their activities. The National Archives has an online lesson plan for educators featuring other rare suffrage documents.

August 26, 2010

Judicial Robes

You may be surprised to learn that Utah judges wear robes by tradition, not by law. It may also surprise you that Utah's Supreme Court justices first began wearing robes on the bench on March 21, 1938.

The minutes of the Utah Supreme Court session for that day record the remarks commemorating the occasion. W. Q. Van Cott, then-president of the Utah State Bar, said to the court:

"We believe you are commencing a wholesome and honorable custom which will persist."

Thurmanphoto.JPGRetired Chief Justice Samuel R. Thurman added:

"I am pleased to be permitted to see you in your robes this morning. It is a symbol of your high position. It, in a sense, differentiates you while you are on the bench from the rest of the members of the bar. It is a proper distinction, for of all offices in our state, that of the highest judicial body, in my estimation, commands more respect; and anything that adds to the respect or the dignity of the bench by way of symbol, I think is proper."

Follandphoto.JPGChief Justice William H. Folland replied:

"... the members of the Court are pleased to accede to the urgent request of the Bar to wear robes during sessions of the Court. Justices of appellate courts, I think in practically all common law countries and particularly in England for five hundred years, have followed this custom of wearing robes as a badge of judicial office.
* * *
They are worn as a mark of honor and distinction, and aid the public as well as the wearer to know that it is the office rather than the person which is to be respected as those who administer justice."

The justices began wearing robes in response to a resolution passed by the Utah State Bar at its 1937 Annual Meeting, which read:

RESOLVED that the Judicial Council recommends to the State Bar that the State Bar of this State recommends and urges the Supreme Court Justices to wear Judicial robes at all court sessions.
The Bar also passed a resolution stating that district court judges should also wear judicial robes. It is unknown exactly when those judges began doing so.


  • Utah Supreme Court Minute Book 13 at 486-487 (March 21, 1938).
  • Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Utah State Bar 20 (1937). Note that the Judicial Council was a section of the Utah State Bar in 1937.

  • August 25, 2010

    Utah State Court Calendars: Free & Searchable Online

    calendar.jpgLooking for your upcoming court date? Want to attend your friend's arraignment? Or just want to attend a court hearing or trial out of curiosity? Most cases in Utah State Courts are open to the public. Exceptions include most juvenile court cases, adoption cases and involuntary commitment cases.

    To find a case, go to the Court Calendars link and select a court location. Court calendars are posted for all district courts and some justice courts and include two weeks worth of cases. To search a calendar for a specific case, use CTRL+F and search using a name or case number. If you can't find a case, contact the law library with case information. It's possible a case was rescheduled, settled or is happening after the two weeks that appear on the calendar.

    August 24, 2010

    Bullying and Hazing

    bullying.jpgThis week Utah's kids will be returning to school. Some parents might be worried about school bullies or that their children could be coerced into participating in hazing activities. Bullying and hazing are prohibited by any student or school employee by Utah Code §53-11a-101 et seq, which was enacted in 2008.

    The law requires each school district to adopt a bullying and hazing policy. These policies include possible consequences of bullying, procedures for protecting victims of bullying, and procedures for investigating and reporting incidents to law enforcement. These policies are to be placed in student and employee handbooks. Several schools and school districts have placed their policies online. See, for example, the Sunrise Elementary School policy (in the Cache County School District) and the Nebo School District policy.

    Even though school boards have created the policies for preventing and managing bullying incidents, some parents choose to resolve bullying issues through a court action. A 2009 Deseret News article described the parents of a Albion Middle School student suing their child's bully and seeking monetary compensation.

    August 23, 2010

    Wireless Password: aphid

    keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of August 23, 2010 is aphid.

    More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

    August 20, 2010

    Learn More About the "Third Branch" of Government

    Have you ever heard media coverage about a court case wanted to learn more?

    Utah's court proceedings and records are public, with a few exceptions.

    Want to attend a court proceeding?
    The public is welcome to attend nearly all district court and some juvenile court hearings. Today's court calendars are available online. The calendar will tell you what time, which courtroom, the type of hearing and who the judge is.

    Sitting in on a hearing is a great way to see how the system works, and is especially helpful if you are representing yourself in a case before the court. You may discover that real-life court isn't exactly the way it's shown on tv.

    Child welfare proceedings in juvenile court are open to the public, although the judge does have the discretion to close the hearing. Adoptions and most juvenile delinquency proceedings are not public.

    Want to see what documents have been filed in a case?
    Court records are kept at the courthouse where the case was filed. With few exceptions, district court records are available for public inspection. Most juvenile court records are not public.

    The Utah State Courts' Public Information Officer maintains a high profile cases web page which provides information about cases that have drawn media attention, and includes documents ranging from pleadings of the parties to court orders.

    Older court records are kept at the Utah State Archives, including district court and supreme court records.

    Wonder what it's like have a case before one of Utah's appellate courts?
    The Utah Supreme Court and Utah Court of Appeals provide audio files of their oral arguments, letting you listen in on the proceedings without having to go through court security screening. You can also attend in person. Check the oral argument calendar for the schedule of upcoming cases.

    You can subscribe to the appellate opinion notification service to receive weekly emails of the recently-released opinions of the Utah Supreme Court and Utah Court of Appeals, or read opinions on the courts' website back to the late 1990s.

    Briefs for appellate cases that are current/pending are available in the appellate clerks' office. Once the case is closed, the original briefs are sent to the Utah State Law Library. You can read briefs in the State Law Library, or request copies through our document delivery service.

    August 18, 2010

    New Utah Judges

    ct up.jpgThe Utah State Senate today voted to confirm Judge Clark McClellan (Eighth District) and Judge Katherine Bernards-Goodman (Third District) as new district court judges.

    For information about the new judges, check out Governor Herbert's news release announcing his nominations. After the governor makes his nominations, the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee convenes to discuss the character and fitness of the nominees. The audio recordings, agenda and committee reports are available online.

    In this case, the committee gave a favorable report of the two nominees, so their names were forwarded to the entire senate, which meets in extraordinary session to vote on the governor's nominations. The audio recording and related materials are also available online.

    September Classes

    columnsHere is the list of free classes the Utah State Law Library is offering in September:

    Small Claims Basics
    Thursday September 2nd, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

    Collecting a Judgment Basics
    Thursday September 9th, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

    Court Website & State Law Library Basics
    Friday September 10th, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

    Landlord-Tenant Basics
    Thursday September 23rd, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

    All classes are held in the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City.

    To register for these classes call 801-238-7990 or email library@email.utcourts.gov.

    August 16, 2010

    Wireless Password: zesty

    keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of August 16, 2010 is zesty.

    More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

    August 13, 2010

    New Book: HIPAA for the General Practitioner

    hipaa.jpgThe Utah State Law Library has recently received HIPAA for the General Practitioner, an American Bar Association publication by Melanie D. Bragg. This books provides a background and overview of the 1996 Act and discusses the most relevant sections for attorneys dealing with HIPAA, including privacy practices and patient consent forms. There is also a section on state-specific statutes that also provide patient privacy protections.

    The book also contains sample forms, including Authorization for Release of Medical Records, Subpoena Duces Tecum to Produce Hospital Records and Order Appointing Guardian Ad Litem.

    August 12, 2010

    Cigarette Laws

    cigarette.jpgA new tobacco tax went into effect July 1st. The new law is making headlines all over the state, but you might be interested to know that it isn't the first time a cigarette law has caused controversy in Utah.

    In 1921, the legislature passed Senate Bill 12: "An act making it unlawful: to sell cigarettes and cigarette papers; to advertise cigarette and cigarette papers; to permits minors to smoke in certain places of business; for any person to smoke in certain enclosed public places." The law was met with a lot of frustration and anger. One Box Elder News article complained that the law was not being enforced. One 1922 editorial in the Duchesne Courier favored repealing the law, which was declared "nothing more than a joke."

    In 1923 the legislature amended the law to permit the sale of cigarettes and cigarette paper through the obtaining of an annual permit from the city or county's governing body. The law was Senate Bill 184. The permit was quite expensive--a $500 bond had to be paid to the city or town, and the annual permit fee ranged from $25 to $100 dollars. Today, the cigarette licensing fees are $30 for the first three years and $20 for subsequent three-year renewals. The $500 bond is not applicable to retailers, but wholesalers and distributors are still subject to a bond.

    Want to see how Utah's newest cigarette laws compare with the rest of the nation? Check out the interactive map from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It shows smoke-free laws and cigarette tax rates as they've changed every year since 2000. You can also click on individual states to show exact tax rates from 2000 to today.

    August 10, 2010

    Changes to Small Claims Cases

    moneyIf you file a small claims case on or after September 1, 2010, you must file the case in a justice court. The only exception is if there is no justice court in the jurisdiction; at the present time, this is only in Cache County.

    So now that you know you have to file your case in a justice court, how do you know which one? There are two main rules to remember: you can file where the defendant resides or where the cause of action arose. For example, if the defendant resides in Salt Lake City and the cause of action (ex. car accident, non-payment of rent, etc.) arose in West Valley, you can file your case in Salt Lake City justice court or West Valley justice court. You cannot, however, file the case in Salt Lake County justice court because a city justice court is available to adjudicate the case.

    Here's a few other examples: if the defendant resides in Hurricane and the cause of action arose in Hurricane, you have to file in Hurricane City justice court. You don't have any other options. The same is true if the defendant resides in unincorporated Salt Lake County and that's where the cause of action arose. You must file in Salt Lake County justice court. If you are having trouble figuring out where to file, remember you can always file where the defendant resides. That may be easier than figuring out where the cause of action arose.

    The new rule is codified in the Code of Judicial Administration Rule 4-801. Effective September 1, 2010, the new rule states:

    "Small claims actions shall be filed in a justice court with territorial jurisdiction. If there is no justice court with territorial jurisdiction, the case may be filed in the district court, and the plaintiff shall state why no justice court has jurisdiction. If a small claims affidavit, without the required statement, is presented for filing in a district court, the clerk should reject it with instructions to file in a justice court with jurisdiction. If the clerk fails to reject it initially, the affidavit and filing fee shall be returned to the plaintiff when the deficiency is first noticed."

    August 09, 2010

    Court of Appeals Briefs

    The library has received 21 Court of Appeals briefs. The docket numbers range from 20070356 to 20090602 (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.

    Wireless Password: yolks

    keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of August 9, 2010 is yolks.

    More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

    August 05, 2010

    Back to School Immunization Resources

    needle.jpgDo your school-aged children have the immunizations they need before going back to school in the fall?

    Utah's law governing student immunizations are found in Utah Code §53A-11-301 et seq. and Utah Administrative Rule R396-100. These laws list the required immunizations, explain the grounds for requesting exemptions, and specify the penalty for failing to comply with the law.

    The Utah Department of Health has a detailed Immunization Program website for parents which includes:

  • immunization schedules for younger children, adolescents, and college-bound students
  • flyers available in English and Spanish which can be distributed to parents
  • an email reminder service which sends parents messages about immunizations for children between two and eighteen months old.

    Looking for an immunization clinic? Find community health clinics, public health clinics by county, or search for your doctor in the Utah Vaccines for Children database, which lists doctors who provide vaccines for Alaskan, Native American, or uninsured children, children on Medicaid, or children whose insurance doesn't cover immunizations.

    Additional information about childhood immunization for parents is available through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • August 04, 2010

    Celebrate National Farmer's Market Week

    apples.jpgWe blogged earlier about Utah farmers markets rules and regulations, and since it's National Farmer's Market Week, we wanted to provide other resources from the federal government for farmers and communities that want to start a market or learn about what the U.S. Department of Agriculture can do for them.

    Of course, the hard work isn't over once the farmers market has started. Farmers and local communities will likely need ideas on how to advertise the new market and keep it running. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides grants through the Agricultural Marketing Service and provides marketing ideas.

    And that's not all. Interested in organic produce or how to become a certified organic producer? Need information about seed testing? The Agricultural Marketing Service is a great place to start your research. If you need help locating a Federal law or regulation the website mentions, you can contact the law library.

    August 03, 2010

    Happy Birthday Census!

    birthdaycake.jpgAugust 2nd marks the 220th birthday of the U.S. Census. August 2nd, 1790, was the date the first count of all U.S. citizens began, which is now a mandatory decennial count as required by Title 13 of the U.S. Code.

    The country has changed tremendously since the first census In 1790. Then the U.S. had only twelve states, had a population of 3.2 million (excluding slaves), and the average family size was 6 persons. According to the Census Population Clock, our current population is over 309 million!

    The U.S. Census Bureau has put hundreds of scanned pages from the first census online. You can read the original Heads of Families reports for each state, which list the names of heads of household by county, and includes how many males are over 16, under 16, who are "all other free persons" in the household, and how many slaves each household owned.

    August 02, 2010

    Wireless Password: extra

    keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of August 2, 2010 is extra.

    More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.