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October 29, 2010

"The Most Important Election Day in Utah History"

Tuesday is election day. All elections are important, but some are more significant than others. In 1895, voters were deciding whether to approve the new Constitution, an important step in the process of becoming a state.

In an article published in the 1995 edition of Beehive History, Jean Bickmore White describes the issues surrounding the 1895 Utah election. Voters were also choosing who would fill the elected offices created by the new Constitution, including governor, secretary of state, attorney general, supreme court justices, Congressional delegates and members of the state legislature.

Although the Constitution was approved by a wide margin, many eligible voters did not vote - an estimated one in six. Nearly one in five who did vote voted against it.

Women were not allowed to participate in the election. A district court judge granted Sarah E. Anderson a writ of mandate requiring the registrar of voters to register her as a voter for the upcoming election, finding that the new Constitution would provide women the right of suffrage. The Utah Territorial Supreme Court overturned the trial court decision, limiting the vote to males citizens over 21 who had lived in the territory over a year.

Don't take your right to vote for granted - have your say on Tuesday!


  • Jean Bickmore White, November 5, 1895 - The Most Important Election Day in Utah History, 21 Beehive History 3 (1995)
  • Women Can Vote, Deseret Weekly 4 (Aug. 17, 1895)
  • Women May Not Vote, Deseret Weekly 13 (Sept. 7, 1895)
  • Anderson v. Tyree, 12 Utah 139 (1895)
  • Image source: Utah State Archives

  • Credit Histories of Job Seekers

    EEOC.pngThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently held a public meeting to discuss the use of credit histories for screening potential employees. A hearing is one of many first steps a federal agency can take in the process of creating federal regulations.

    Currently, the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows for the disclosure of credit reports for employment purposes (see 15 U.S.C. §1681b). However, many organizations are speaking out against this practice.

    At the EEOC's public meeting, representatives from civic organizations and the legal community presented their arguments against the use of credit histories when screening job applicants. Sarah Crawford from the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law stated "credit checks create an unnecessary obstacle for those seeking gainful employment."

    The National Consumer Law Center is also concerned with the use of credit histories by employers. In addition to speaking at the EEOC public meeting, the NCLC has also testified before the U.S. Subcommittee on Financial institutions and Consumer Credit earlier this year in support of H.R. 3149: Equal Opportunity for All Act. This resolution, still pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, would amend 15 U.S.C. §1681 to prohibit the use of credit histories for employment purposes.

    For more information on credit reports, check out these resources:

    • The National Consumer Law Center has several consumer publications online, including What You Should Know About Your Credit Report and Understanding Credit Scores.
    • The Federal Trade Commission has information on Employment Background Checks and Credit Reports. This explains what procedures an employer must follow if they are seeking a potential employee's credit report.

    October 28, 2010

    Lexis Debuts New Look

    Lexis.bmpIn the next few weeks, LexisNexis users will notice changes to the legal research database. Enhancements will be implemented without you having to download anything or use a new ID and password.
    Preview the new look here and here. The preview indicates the database will have fewer tabs and it will be easier to access your research history as well as perform common tasks.
    More information about the changes is found at the Lexis Q&A page.

    October 27, 2010

    Voter Information in Alternate Formats

    Utah State Library for the Blind and Disabled Earlier this month we blogged about election resources and judicial retention elections.

    Did you know that the Utah State Library for the Blind and Disabled offers voter information in alternate formats, including large print, braille and MP3 audio files? Check it out and be an informed voter!

    October 25, 2010

    Wireless Password: juicy

    keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of October 25, 2010 is juicy.

    More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

    October 22, 2010

    Beware of Telemarketing & Charity Scams

    scam.bmpTelemarketing and charity scams are on the rise, including schemes where scam artists pose as employees of federal government agencies and charities like the Make A Wish Foundation (Read their fraud alert here.).

    The Federal Trade Commission provides information about this type of fraud and how to report it, including these red flag warnings if you think a phone call like this might be too good to be true:

    1) Don't pay to collect sweepstakes winnings.
    2) Hold on to your money.
    3) Look-alikes aren't the real thing.
    4) Phone numbers can deceive.

    More information about phone call scams is found at Who's Calling? Recognize & Report Phone Fraud. If you believe you have been a victim of one of these scams, file a complaint with the FTC. Sometimes other agencies get involved with investigating fraud claims -- in 2009 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement partnered with the Jamaican government to investigate and dismantle a telemarketing scam targeting U.S. Citizens. Read about their investigation here.

    October 21, 2010

    United Nations Legal Research Resources

    UN.jpgOctober 24th is United Nations Day, commemorating the day in 1945 that the UN Charter became effective after being signed by fifty-one countries earlier that year.

    The United Nations was formed to promote peace and cooperation among member nations. October 24th officially became United Nations Day in 1947 when the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 168 (II). Although the UN is its own entity, it is not a separate government and does not create laws.

    The judicial branch of the United Nations is known as the International Court of Justice. This court has jurisdiction over interpretations of international law and treaties and breaches of international obligations between member states. Like U.S. state and federal courts, there are court rules and practice guidelines for cases before this court. The International Court of Justice has the unique ability to provide advisory opinions requested by specific international agencies. You can find information on all cases heard before the court since 1946 online, including orders, objections, and other filings.

    The UN has the authority to establish International War Crimes Tribunals under Article 7 of the UN Charter to consider charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, or genocide. A war crimes tribunal can be created by resolution. In 1993, for example, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 827 to establish the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in response to war crimes committed during the Kosovo War in the 1990s.

    There is a separate International Criminal Court that is not part of the UN, but is rather established as part of a treaty (the Rome Statute) signed by 113 countries. Countries who have signed the treaty or the United Nations Security Council may refer cases to this court. This court has jurisdiction over events on or after July 1, 2002.

    October 20, 2010

    Election Resources 2010

    Last year's blog post on Utah's Election Laws & Resources points to links that have information for Utah voters in this year's midterm election.

    All three U.S. House of Representative incumbents are up for re-election:
    1st District Congressman Rob Bishop (R)
    2nd District Congressman Jim Matheson (D)
    3rd District Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R)

    One U.S. Senate seat in Utah is open this year.

    At the state level, the governor, lieutenant governor and many house and senate seats are on the ballot. For a complete list of candidates in this year's election, visit the voter information page. Many judges are also on this year's ballot; information about those judges is found in the Voter Information Pamphlet. More information about judicial retention elections is here.

    Want to be reminded about polling locations and voting hours prior to an upcoming election? Sign up to receive text message or email reminders.

    Utah Celebrates Pro Bono Week

    pro_bono_cel.jpgOctober 24-30 is Pro Bono Week, celebrating free legal assistance to people who can't afford to hire attorneys and recognizing those who provide such services.

    There are a variety of free legal clinics for the public being offered throughout the state during Pro Bono Week, including the new Debtor's Counseling Clinic and a one-time legal clinic being held at the Utah Valley University Library the evening of October 26th. Call the UVU Legal Studies office for more information: 801-863-8134.

    There are several events scheduled for attorneys, including an opening ceremony, a free film screening, a pro bono social, and a one-hour CLE on Family Law Basics.

    Pro Bono Week is celebrated nationwide. Check out the ABA's National Pro Bono Celebration site to find out about events nationwide.

    October 19, 2010

    November Classes

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

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

    Collecting a Judgment Basics
    Not offered in November because of the Veterans' Day holiday

    Court Website & State Law Library Basics
    Friday November 12th, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

    Landlord-Tenant Basics
    Thursday November 18th, 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.

    Every Dog's Legal Guide

    Having trouble with a neighborhood dog? Wondering what your responsibilities are as a dog owner? Nolo's Every Dog's Legal Guide by Mary Randolph might be the book for you!

    Topics covered in this book range from leash laws, dogs in vehicles, animal burial restrictions, barking dogs, assistance dogs, dog bites, dangerous dogs and animal cruelty. The book also has an appendix of state dog-bite laws and tips for researching state and local dog laws.

    While this books is not new (2007), it is new to our library. You are welcome to look through it at our library; your public library may also have a copy you can check out.

    October 18, 2010

    Wireless Password: intro

    keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of October 18, 2010 is intro.

    More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

    October 14, 2010

    New Book: Credit Repair

    CREP9.gifWe've received a new book called Credit Repair by Robin Leonard & John Lamb. This book is published by Nolo, a company which publishes books written for non-lawyers.

    Credit Repair provides tips for assessing your debt situation, how to avoid overspending, how to handle your existing debts, how to clean up your credit report, and how to build and maintain good credit. It also includes sample forms and letters.

    Have additional questions about credit repair? See our recent announcement about the new Debtor's Counseling Clinic.

    October 12, 2010

    New Book: The Foreclosure Survivial Guide

    Foreclosure Survival Guide book cover imageWe've received the newest edition of Nolo's The Foreclosure Survivial Guide by Stephen Elias.

    This second edition provides information on a variety of topics, including whether you can or should keep your house, negotiating a workout, and fighting foreclosure. It also includes a glossary of foreclosure-related terms, and summaries of foreclosure laws for every state.

    Have additional questions about foreclosure? See our February post about foreclosure prevention and our recent announcement about the new Debtor's Counseling Clinic.

    October 11, 2010

    Wireless Password: hedge

    keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of October 11, 2010 is hedge.

    More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.

    October 08, 2010

    Juvenile Courts Now Accepting Online Payments

    ct balcony.jpgDistrict courts have been accepting ePayments since last year, and now juvenile court payments for restitution and fines and fees can be paid online at https://courtapps.utcourts.gov/JuvenileEpaymentWEB/. In addition to making payments online, if you have your case number and court-issued PIN number, you can view information about your juvenile case, including court orders, money owed and upcoming hearings.

    October 07, 2010

    October Holiday Hours: Columbus Day

    The Law Library, and all Utah State Courts, will be closed on Monday, October 11 for the Columbus Day holiday.

    Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since 1971; the first recorded celebration in the U.S. took place on October 12, 1792, 300 years after Columbus' landing.

    For more information about Columbus Day, check out the Library of Congress' page about the holiday or the Library's online exhibition, "1492: An Ongoing Voyage."

    October 06, 2010

    Judicial Retention Elections

    Article VIII, Section 9 of the Utah Constitution says that each judge of a court of record must stand for retention in a non-partisan, unopposed election:

  • At the first general election held more than three years after their appointment
  • Supreme Court justices every tenth year after the initial election
  • All other judges (including court of appeals, district and juvenile judges) every sixth year after the initial election

    Justice court judges stand for retention election every six years. Utah Code §78A-7-203.

    Be Informed
    Most people have little or no contact with the court system and its judges, and so may be wondering how to make an informed choice on election day - November 2, 2010.

    Before a judge stands for retention election, he or she is evaluated by the Utah Judicial Council, which has established criteria for evaluating a judge's performance, as well as minimum standards for performance. Attorneys and jurors are also surveyed about their interactions with judges of courts of record. Surveys are not conducted about justice court judges.

    The Judicial Council weighs all of these factors and determines whether a judge is qualified for retention. A summary of the evaluation information is published in the voter information pamphlet, and includes a photo, a brief professional biography and a summary of the attorney and juror survey results for each judge. Remember that appellate and juvenile court judges do not use juries, so there will be no juror surveys for them, and there are no surveys for justice court judges. When you're reviewing the survey results it helps to reference the list of questions on page 4 of the voter information pamphlet so you know which results go with which question.

    One Court of Appeals judge, 23 district judges, 10 juvenile court judges and 92 justice court judges are up for election. Don't worry, you will not see all of those names on your ballot! You only have to decide on the judges who have jurisdiction in your community. Judges of courts of record are listed in the voter information pamphlet first by judicial district, then in alphabetical order. Justice court judges are listed at the end of the pamphlet in judicial district order.

    Want to see your judges in action? The public is welcome to attend nearly all appellate, district and justice court and some juvenile court hearings.

    Additional election information is available on the Lt. Governor's Voter Information page.


  • This is the last year the Judicial Council will be involved in the judicial evaluation process. As of the 2012 election, judicial performance will be evaluated by the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, which is part of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.
  • Evaluation criteria: Rule of Judicial Administration 3-111.02.
  • Standards of judicial performance: Rule of Judicial Administration 3-111.03.

  • October 05, 2010

    New Debtor's Counseling Clinic

    collecting.jpgThe Utah State Bar, Utah Legal Services and the Pro Bono Initiative of the S.J. Quinney College of Law are co-sponsoring a new debtor's counseling clinic.

    This clinic will be held the fourth Thursday of the month from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Salt Lake City Public Library, 400 E 210 S, in the Conference Room on Level 3.

    This clinic will provide help in the areas of bankruptcy, collections and credit issues.

    October 04, 2010

    Court of Appeals Briefs

    The library has received 20 Court of Appeals briefs. The docket numbers range from 20070932 to 20100075 (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: grown

    keyboard.JPGThe wireless password for the week of October 4, 2010 is grown.

    More information about wireless access in Utah's courthouses.