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September 30, 2010

Small Claims Update

moneyAs we noted before on this blog, small claims cases must now be filed in a justice court. The Utah State Courts' Small Claims page has been updated to reflect this change, including providing updated forms and information about where to file.

More information can also be found in the Utah Code at Title 78A, Chapter 8 (Small Claims Courts) and the Utah Rules of Small Claims Procedure.

If you still have questions about the small claims process after reviewing the Small Claims page, consider attending the free Small Claims Basics class, held in the Utah State Law Library every month. To register for the class, contact the Law Library.

September 29, 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court Back in Session

supremecourt.jpgThe Supreme Court will be back in session on Monday, October 4th, 2010. 28 U.S.C. §2 requires the court to begin its term on the first Monday in October.

Earlier this year we blogged about the U.S. Supreme Court's new website. The website provides a preview of what will be heard in the new term. The Argument Calendars page already has the first three months' calendars online, so you can see the case names and issues that the court will considering. Another new feature starting this term, according to a recent Supreme Court press release, is weekly MP3 recordings of arguments.

The American Bar Association's Division for Public Education has a preview of the Supreme Court's new term, including the briefs filed in upcoming cases. You can also keep up with what cases are being heard or considered through SCOTUSblog. The blog features analysis of decisions and links to petitions pending before the Supreme Court.

September 27, 2010

Wireless Password: farms

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of September 27, 2010 is farms.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

September 24, 2010

Establishing the U.S. Federal Court System

supremecourt.jpgToday marks the 221st anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. federal court system.

On September 24, 1789, the Judiciary Act of 1789 was signed by President George Washington. This congressional act defined three levels of federal courts: the Supreme Court, which would have a Chief Justice and five Associate Justices; circuit courts, which heard civil cases and appeals from district courts; and district courts, which generally heard admiralty and maritime cases and cases involving monetary disputes up to $100. We still have the basic three-tier structure of federal courts today.

To learn more about the history of this law, check out the Library of Congress's Primary Documents in American History page devoted to the act. Here you'll find links to historic congressional debates over the bill. The Federal Judicial Center's Landmark Judicial Legislation page has historical articles on this act and many other laws that affected the judiciary, including the creation of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Bankruptcy Courts.

Banned Books Week 2010

BBW_Web_Badge_80.jpgSeptember 25 - October 2 is Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Among the books challenged or banned in 2009-2010: Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, the Twilight Series, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

The First Amendment states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

September 21, 2010

October Classes

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

Small Claims Basics
Thursday October 7th, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

Collecting a Judgment Basics
Thursday October 14th, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

Court Website & State Law Library Basics
Friday October 15th, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Landlord-Tenant Basics
Thursday October 28th, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

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

Class size is limited, so registration is required. To reserve your spot:
call 801-238-7990 or email library@email.utcourts.gov.

Please Be Prompt!
As a courtesy to our volunteer instructors, please be on time. Classes may be canceled if students are not present at the scheduled start time.

September 20, 2010

Wireless Password: edger

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of September 20, 2010 is edger.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

September 16, 2010

Citizenship Day

statueofliberty2.jpgIn addition to being Constitution Day, September 17th is also Citizenship Day. Both days were designated by 36 U.S.C. §106.

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day first began in 1940 (54 Stat. 178). Called I am an American Day, the holiday was set on the third Sunday of each May as a "recognition of all who, by coming of age or naturalization, have attained the status of citizenship." In 1952, Public Law 261 (66 Stat. 9) repealed the 1940 resolution, renamed the commemoration Citizenship Day, and added the statement that the holiday also celebrates "the formation and signing, on September 17, 1787, of the Constitution of the United States." Constitution Day was added to the holiday's title with the passage of Public Law 108-447, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005. See pages 536-537 of the nearly 700 page law.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website has many resources for those interested in becoming a U.S. citizen, including forms that can be submitted by mail and forms that can be filed electronically. There are also guides to and study materials for the Naturalization Test.

In Utah, citizenship education classes are often provided by cultural associations or school districts. The Asian Association of Utah, for instance, offers citizenship test preparation classes. United Way of Utah County offers citizenship test preparation in Provo. The Granite School District offers a citizenship class as part of its lifelong learning department.

New Utah Judges

ct up.jpgThe Utah State Senate yesterday voted to confirm David Hamilton (Second District), Michelle Heward (Second District Juvenile), Noel Hyde (Second District), Jeffrey Noland (Second District Juvenile), and Karla Staheli (Fith District Juvenile) as new Utah State Court judges.

For information about the new judges, check out Governor Herbert's news release announcing his nominations. The news release about Judge Staheli is here; the news release about the four other judges is here. 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. To find recordings and reports about these five judges, select the August 31, 2010 and September 1, 2010 meeting dates.

In this case, the committee gave a favorable report for the five nominees, so their names were forwarded to the entire senate, which met yesterday, September 15, in the 2010 11th Extraordinary Session to vote on the governor's nominations. The audio recording and related materials are also available online.

September 13, 2010

Wireless Password: daisy

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of September 13, 2010 is daisy.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

September 12, 2010

A Town Run by Women

KanabLast month we blogged about the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. As mentioned in that post, women in Utah were allowed to vote well before the federal constitutional amendment was passed. In 1912, that may have helped the southern Utah town of Kanab elect an all-woman government: mayor, council and clerk.

Want to learn more? Check out these resources:


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Pictured: Kanab town board, 1912-14 (L-R) Luella McAllister (treasurer), Blanche Hamblin (councilor), Mary Elizabeth Wooley Howard Chamberlain (mayor), Tamar Hamblin (clerk) and Ada Seegmiller (councilor).
Photo from http://historyforkids.utah.gov/homework_help/counties/kane.html.

September 09, 2010

75th Anniversary of the Social Security Act

socialsecurityact.jpgOn August 14, 1935, the Social Security Act was signed into law. The original Social Security Act set payroll taxes to begin in 1937 and for monthly benefits to begin in 1942. In 1939, Congress amended the law so that monthly benefits could begin in 1940. The 1939 amendments also expanded the benefits from retirements for individual workers to adding benefits for survivors and dependents of a worker. Disability benefits were added to the law in the 1950s and 1960s.

To help keep track of the earnings of all U.S. workers, the Social Security board decided that all workers would be assigned a Social Security Number and all employers would be issued an Employer Identification Number. About 35 million social security numbers were issued in the first two years of the act.

To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Act, the Social Security Administration has put together a historical website, which includes rare and interesting historical speeches and documents by early social security advocates. In addition, the Social Security Administration is asking the general public to submit stories of how Social Security has made a difference in their lives or their families live. Submit your story today!

September 08, 2010

Utah State Fair: A Short Legal History

cattlejudging.jpgThis year's Utah State Fair, coming up on September 9-19, is the 154th state fair in Utah. In fact, the first fair in 1856 was held just 9 years after the first pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. As early as 1876, in the Compiled Laws of Utah, the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society was charged with holding an annual exhibition of "all such agricultural products, stock and domestic manufactured articles as...will be best calculated to stimulate the people of this Territory in industrial pursuits." The best products and animals were awarded a prize. The State Fair was such an integral part of Utah's history that the fair's location was specified as Salt Lake City in Utah's Constitution until 1988.

Prior to 1995, the Utah State Fair was run by a government agency through the Board of Expositions. The Board was tasked with holding an annual exhibition through which awards could be made for best livestock and poultry, domestic science, domestic animals and more. In 1995, the legislature created the Utah State Fair Corporation, which is a public nonprofit. One of the reasons it was created was to prevent taxpayer money from subsidizing the fair. However, the government is still involved in state fair matters as the governor appoints board members with the consent of the Senate.

Interested in being on the Utah State Fair Corporation's Board of Directors? Apply here.

More about the fair, including information about this year's fair, can be found at the Utah State Fair's website.


September 07, 2010

Wireless Password: chive

keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of September 6, 2010 is chive.

More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

September 01, 2010

National Preparedness Month

http://www.ready.gov/america/makeaplan/index.htmlNational Preparedness Month - September 2010 (Register to become a Coalition Member) graphic
September is National Preparedness Month. The nation recently commemorated the 5th anniversary of Katrina, the hurricane that devastated Gulf Coast communities in 2005. How ready are you for a natural or human-caused disaster?

The Ready America website stresses three points:

  • Get a kit
  • Make a plan
  • Be informed

    The Be Informed page provides specific disaster information for each state. Utah, for example, is at risk for wildfires, flooding, tornadoes, drought and landslides.

    The Publications page includes a Family Emergency Plan template you can use to record vital emergency information, an emergency supply list and an extensive "Are You Ready?" Manual. There are also publications written specifically for kids.

    Utah has its own Be Ready Utah website, which provides tips for readying your family, you business, your community and your school.