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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 ยง78A-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.

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