An Overview of the Utah Court of Appeals

The Utah Court of Appeals, created in 1987, consists of seven judges who serve six-year renewable terms. A presiding judge is elected by majority vote to serve for two years. Learn more about the current members of the Utah Court of Appeals in the Gallery of Judges. The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals is complementary to that of the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals hears all appeals from the Juvenile and District Courts, except those from the small claims department of a District Court. It also determines appeals from District Court involving domestic relations cases, including divorce, annulment, property division, child custody, support, visitation, adoption and paternity, and criminal matters of less than a first degree or capital felony. The Court also reviews appeals of administrative proceedings by state agencies including the Utah Industrial Commission and the Department of Employment Security Career Service Review Board. It also has jurisdiction to hear cases transferred to it by the Supreme Court.

Court of Appeals sessions usually are conducted in Salt Lake City, but the Court travels several times per year, holding court in different geographical regions of the state. The Court sits and renders judgment in rotating panels of three judges. It is prohibited by statute from sitting en banc (all seven members at once).

The panels hear oral arguments in cases during the third and fourth week of the month. After hearing arguments, the judges conference to discuss the issues raised in the case. One of the judges on the panel is assigned to write the opinion of the court.

In addition to its oral argument panels, the court designates three judges to sit on the law and motion panel. This panel determines procedural and substantive motions and hears cases on one day per month.

The judges are assisted by the Clerk of the Court, central staff attorneys, law clerks, legal secretaries, and deputy clerks.