Utah Legal Research
The Utah Constitution establishes the framework for Utah government.
Current Utah Constitution
The Utah Constitution is also published in the Utah Code, which is available in print at Utah's law libraries and many public libraries.
The Official report of the proceedings of the debates of the Constitutional Convention is a transcript of the proceedings of the constitutional convention held in 1895.
The Proceedings are also available in print at Utah's law libraries.
The legislative branch of government introduces legislation to make new laws, and to amend or repeal existing laws. Legislation not vetoed by the governor becomes state law. The legislative session starts on the fourth Monday in January and runs for 45 days. Visit the Utah Legislature's website for more information about this branch of government.
Current Utah Code
The Utah Code is the compilation of the laws of the state passed by the legislature, arranged by subject. Print copies of the Utah Code are available at Utah's law libraries and many public libraries.
There are three print versions of the Utah Code:
- Utah Code Annotated, 1953 ed., and West's Utah Code Annotated are hardbound, multi-volume sets containing the Utah Code together with commentaries or explanations at the end of each section of the Utah Code. These commentaries are not part of the official code but may be helpful in interpreting the law. They include a legislative history, collateral references, cross references, compiler's notes, annotations, and comparable provisions.
- The Utah Code Unannotated is a softbound set that contains only the actual text of the current laws of Utah and is published each year to incorporate any changes.
Older Versions of the Utah Code
Territorial Utah codes (1847-1888) are available online from the J. Willard Marriott Library's Digital Collections.
- Ordinances of the High Council (1847-1849)
- Laws and Ordinances of the State of Deseret (1851)
- Compilation (1852)
- Compilation (1855)
- Compilation (1866)
- Compilation (1870)
- Compiled Laws (1876)
- Compiled Laws (1888)
Utah state codes (1898-1943) are available online from the Utah Government Digital Library
- Revised Statutes (1898)
- Compiled Laws (1907)
- Compiled Laws (1917)
- Revised Statutes (1933)
- Utah Code Annotated (1943)
Utah Session Laws (1851-current) - a Utah public library card is required to access this resource.
The Utah Code is cited by title, chapter and section:
UT Code § 76-5-302
(title 76, chapter 5, section 302)
Information about the legislature and legislative history research is available from these resources:
- Utah Legislative History Resources (Utah State Law Library)
- Legislative Intent and Legislative History (Utah State Archives
- Mari Cheney, Utah Legislative History Research Tips, Utah B.J., Nov./Dec. 2008, at 22
- Citizen's Guide from the Utah State Legislature provides information about the legislative process.
The executive branch implements and enforces the laws passed by the legislature. The executive branch includes the Governor and administrative agencies, such as the Labor Commission, Motor Vehicle Division, and Tax Commission. The legislature delegates rulemaking authority to administrative agencies, and some administrative agencies also have some adjudication powers.
Utah Administrative Code (UAC)
The print UAC is annotated, which includes history notes and case law annotations, as well as the full text of all the permanent administrative rules of Utah and is a 10-volume softbound, annually replaced set. Utah's law libraries and the Utah History Research Center have historical collections of the UAC.
The UAC is cited by title, rule and section:
UT Admin Code R15-34-6
(title 15, rule 34, section 6)
Jessica Van Buren & Mari Cheney, Researching Utah Administrative Law, Utah B.J., Mar./April 2009, at 39
Utah State Bulletin
The Utah State Bulletin is an official publication of the Division of Administrative Rules. It is Utah's equivalent to the Federal Register and includes proposed rules, rule analyses, notices of effective dates, and review notices. It also includes public notices, and Governor's executive documents.
Utah State Digest
The Utah State Digest is a summary of the information found in the Utah State Bulletin. The primary difference between the Bulletin and the Digest is that the Digest does not contain the text of administrative rules or other documents.
Executive Orders and Proclamations
The Governor periodically issues Executive Orders and Proclamations. 1993-current executive documents are available online. Older executive documents are published in the Utah State Bulletin, which is available in print at Utah's law libraries and the Utah History Research Center.
Attorney General Opinions
Attorney General Opinions are issued in response to requests by state agency officials and state legislators for legal questions related to their official duties. These opinions are not law, but advice to state officials on questions of law and how the law applies to a particular fact situation.
- List of Attorney General Opinions (1990-2012) - PDF
The judicial branch resolves disputes between parties, interprets the law, upholds the constitution and protects the rights of Utahns. Utah's court system includes trial courts (district, juvenile, and justice courts) which hear evidence and decide the facts of a case, and appellate courts (court of appeals and supreme court), which hear appeals from lower courts.
Utah Judicial Council
The Utah Judicial Council is the policy-making body for the judiciary. It has the constitutional authority to adopt uniform rules for the administration of all the courts in the state. The Council also sets standards for judicial performance, court facilities, support services, and judicial and non-judicial staff levels.
Appellate Court Decisions
Newly-released published appellate decisions are available in print at Utah's law libraries.
Utah appellate opinions are eventually published in the Utah Reporter, which is a collection of the Utah cases from the Pacific Reporter (P.2d and P.3d). The Pacific Reporter and the Utah Reporter are available at Utah's law libraries.
Slip opinions are cited by case name, year, court, and opinion number:
Smith v. Jones, 2001 UT 29
(Supreme Court Case)
Smith v. Jones, 1999 UT App 16
(Court of Appeals Case)
Citations to published opinions should include the universal citation described above (Utah Rule of Appellate Procedure 24(f)), and the Pacific Reporter citation, which includes the case name, volume and page of the reporter, court and date:
Smith v. Jones, 2001 UT 29, 24 P.3d 928
volume 24 of the Pacific Reporter, third series, on page 928
Briefs are the written arguments of parties stating the reasons why the appellate court should rule in their favor.
Examples of briefs submitted in other appeals can be helpful. Briefs are available from these sources:
- BYU Law Digital Library
- Utah Supreme Court (1929-current; not comprehensive)
- Utah Court of Appeals (1986-current; not comprehensive)
- Appellate Court Briefs (Utah Courts)
- Newer cases - those at issue, are scheduled for oral argument, or are under advisement
- Utah State Archives (Utah Supreme Court, 1888-1940s; print)
- Utah State Law Library. Use the Document Delivery Service to request copies.
- Utah Supreme Court (1929 and 1940s-current, docket # 4922-4932 and 6190-current)
- Utah Court of Appeals (1986-current).
- University of Utah's James E. Faust Law Library (print)
Briefs can be used as examples of what your brief should look like, but you must be sure to follow the requirements specified in the Utah Rules of Appellate Procedure. Remember that the arguments in a brief are specific to that appeal, and may not apply to your situation.
Briefs can also be used as a legal research tool. They contain legal arguments designed to persuade the court by analyzing legal issues and citing legal sources. If you have found decisions of the Utah Supreme Court or Utah Court of Appeals that are similar to your case, library staff can help you look up the briefs to see what those parties argued.
Mari Cheney, Researching and Using Utah Appellate Briefs and Other Appellate Resources, Utah B.J., Jan./Feb. 2009, at 31
Utah Court Rules
Court Rules are the rules for the administration of state courts and for practice and procedure in civil and criminal cases established by the supreme court. The supreme court has also adopted rules for the practice of law in Utah and procedural rules for appellate and juvenile matters.
The print version is available at Utah's law libraries and some public libraries. Utah's law libraries also have a historical collection of the Utah Court Rules. The print version of the rules are published annually in April with an October update.
Court Rules are cited by type of rule and rule number:
Appellate Rule 48 Civil Rule 4 Evidence Rule 702
Notice of Rule Changes and Proposed Rules are posted on the court's website.
Jury instructions are used in trials to instruct jurors about the law that applies in the case they are deciding. Lawyers may also use jury instructions as they prepare for trial to ensure they address all the elements of their case.
The Model Utah Jury Instructions, 2nd edition (MUJI 2d), are available on the court's website. Civil and criminal instructions are available.
Utah City and County Codes
Most Utah cities and counties have their own codes - sometimes called a municipal code or local ordinances - that govern in addition to Utah's state laws. Some city and county codes are available online.
If the code is not available online, the local community public library or the city/county clerk's office may have a copy.
Utah Legal Research Guides
- Mari Cheney, Researching the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Utah B.J., Nov./Dec. 2009, at 28
- Mari Cheney, Before the Utah Bar Journal, Utah B.J., Sep./Oct. 2009, at 38
- Jessica Van Buren & Mari Cheney, Researching Utah Administrative Law, Utah B.J., Mar./April 2009, at 39
- Mari Cheney, Researching and Using Utah Appellate Briefs and Other Appellate Resources, Utah B.J., Jan./Feb. 2009, at 31
- Mari Cheney, Utah Legislative History Research Tips, Utah B.J., Nov./Dec. 2008, at 22
Utah Legal Journals
Utah Legal History