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Rule 3‑201. Courtcommissioners.

 

Intent:

To define the role of courtcommissioner.

To establish a term of officefor court commissioners.

To establish uniformadministrative policies governing the qualifications, appointment, supervision,discipline and removal of court commissioners.

To establish uniformadministrative policies governing the salaries, benefits and privileges of theoffice of court commissioner.

Applicability:

This rule shall apply to alltrial courts of record.

Statementof the Rule:

(1) Definition. Court commissioners are quasi‑judicial officersestablished by the Utah Code.

(2) Qualifications.

(2)(A)Court commissioners must be at least 25 years of age, United States citizens,Utah residents for three years preceding appointment and residents of Utahwhile serving as commissioners. A court commissioner shall reside in a judicialdistrict the commissioner serves.

(2)(B)Court commissioners must be admitted to practice law in Utah and exhibit goodcharacter. Court commissioners must possess ability and experience in the areasof law in which the court commissioner serves.

(2)(C)Court commissioners shall serve full time and shall comply with Utah CodeSection 78A‑2‑221.

(3) Appointment ‑ Oath of office.

(3)(A)Selection of court commissioners shall be based solely upon consideration offitness for office.

(3)(B)When a vacancy occurs or is about to occur in the office of a courtcommissioner, the Council shall determine whether to fill the vacancy. TheCouncil may determine that the court commissioner will serve more than onejudicial district.

(3)(C)A committee for the purpose of nominating candidates for the position of courtcommissioner shall consist of the presiding judge or designee from each courtleveland judicial district that the commissioner will serve, three lawyers, and twomembers of the public. Committee members shall be appointed by the presidingjudge of the district court of each judicial district. The committee membersshall serve three year terms, staggered so that not more than one term of amember of the bench, bar, or public expires during the same calendar year. Thepresiding judge shall designate a chair of the committee. All members of thecommittee shall reside in the judicial district. All members of the committeeshall be voting members. A quorum of one‑half the committee members isnecessary for the committee to act. The committee shall act by the concurrenceof a majority of the members voting. When voting upon the qualifications of acandidate, the committee shall follow the procedures established in thecommissioner nominating manual.

(3)(D)If the commissioner will serve more than one judicial district, the presidingjudges of the districts involved shall select representatives from eachdistrict's nominating committee to form a joint nominating committee with asize and composition equivalent to that of a district committee, except that amaximum of two judges from each district shall serve on the joint nominatingcommittee.?

(3)(E)No member of the committee may vote upon the qualifications of any candidatewho is the spouse of that committee member or is related to that committeemember within the third degree of relationship. No member of the committee mayvote upon the qualifications of a candidate who is associated with thatcommittee member in the practice of law. The committee member shall declare tothe committee any other potential conflict of interest between that member andany candidate as soon as the member becomes aware of the potential conflict ofinterest. The committee shall determine whether the potential conflict ofinterest will preclude the member from voting upon the qualifications of anycandidate. The committee shall record all declarations of potential conflictsof interest and the decision of the committee upon the issue.

(3)(F)The administrative office of the courts shall advertise for qualifiedapplicants and shall remove from consideration those applicants who do not meetminimum qualifications of age, citizenship, residency, and admission to thepractice of law. The administrative office of the courts shall develop uniformguidelines for the application process for court commissioners.

(3)(G)The nominating committee shall review the applications of qualified applicantsand may investigate the qualifications of applicants to its satisfaction. Thecommittee shall interview selected applicants and select the three bestqualified candidates.? All voting shallbe by confidential ballot.? The committeeshall receive public comment on those candidates as provided in paragraph(4).? Any candidate may be reconsideredupon motion by a committee member and upon agreement by a majority ofnominating committee members.??

(3)(H)When the public comment period as provided in paragraph (4) has closed, thecomments shall be given to the nominating committee. If any comments wouldnegatively affect the committee?s decision on whether to recommend a candidate,the candidate shall be given all comments with the commenters? names redacted andan opportunity to respond to the comments. If the committee decides not torecommend a candidate based on the comments, the committee shall select anothercandidate from the interviewed applicants and again receive public comment onthe candidates as provided in paragraph (4).

(3)(I)The chair of the nominating committee shall present the names, applications,and the results of background investigations of the nominees to the judges ofthe courts the court commissioner will serve. The committee may indicate itsorder of preference.

(3)(J)The judges of each court level the court commissioner will serve shall togetherselect one of the nominees by a concurrence of a majority of judges voting. Ifthe commissioner will serve more than one judicial district, the concurrence ofa majority of judges in each district is necessary for selection.

(3)(K)The presiding judge of the district the court commissioner will primarily serveshall present the name of the selected candidate to the Council. The selectionshall be final upon the concurrence of two‑thirds of the members of theCouncil. The Council shall vote upon the selection within 45 days of theselection or the concurrence of the Council shall be deemed granted.

(3)(L)If the Council does not concur in the selection, the judges of the district mayselect another of the nominees or a new nominating process will be commenced.

(3)(M)The appointment shall be effective upon the court commissioner taking andsubscribing to the oath of office required by the Utah Constitution and takingany other steps necessary to qualify for office. The court commissioner shallqualify for office within 45 days after the concurrence by the Council.

(4) Public comment for appointment and retention.

(4)(A)Final candidates for appointment and court commissioners who are up forretention shall be subject to public comment.

(4)(B)For final candidates, the nominating committee shall be responsible for givingnotice of the public comment period.

(4)(C)For court commissioners, the district in which the commissioner serves shall beresponsible for giving notice of the public comment period.

(4)(D)The nominating committee or district in which the commissioner serves shall:

(i)email notice to each active member of the Utah State Bar including the names ofthe nominees or court commissioner with instructions on how to submit comments;

(ii) issuea press release and other public notices listing the names of the nominees orcourt commissioner with instructions on how to submit comments; and

(iii)allow at least 10 days for public comment.

(4)(E)Individuals who comment on the nominees or commissioners should be encouraged,but not required, to provide their names and contact information.

(4)(F)The comments are classified as protected court records and shall not be madeavailable to the public.

(5) Term of office. The court commissioner shall be appointed untilDecember 31 of the third year following concurrence by the Council. At theconclusion of the first term of office and each subsequent term, the courtcommissioner shall be retained for a term of four years unless the judges ofthe courts the commissioner serves vote not to retain the commissioner inaccordance with paragraph (8)(B) or unless the Judicial Council does notcertify the commissioner for retention under rule 3-111. The term of office ofcourt commissioners holding office on April 1, 2011 shall end December 31 ofthe year in which their term would have ended under the former rule.

(6) Court commissioner performance review.

(6)(A)Performance evaluations and performanceplans. The presiding judge of each district and court level thecommissioner serves shall prepare an evaluation of the commissioner'sperformance and a performance plan in accordance with Rule 3-111. Courtcommissioners shall comply with the program for judicial performanceevaluation, including expectations set forth in a performance plan.

(6)(B)Public comment period results. Whenthe public comment period for a commissioner provided in paragraph (4) closes,the comments shall be given to and reviewed by the presiding judge of eachdistrict and court level the commissioner serves. If any comments wouldnegatively affect the presiding judge?s decision of whether to sanction thecommissioner or remove the commissioner from office in accordance withparagraph (7), the commissioner shall be provided all comments with thecommenters? names redacted and the commissioner shall be given an opportunityto respond to the comments.

(7) Sanctions or removal during a commissioner?s term.

(7)(A)Sanctions.

(7)(A)(i)The court commissioner may be sanctioned by the Council as the result of aformal complaint filed under rule 3-201.02.

(7)(A)(ii)If the commissioner's performance is not satisfactory, the commissioner may besanctioned in accordance with paragraph (7)(A)(iii) by the presiding judge, orpresiding judges if the commissioner serves multiple districts or court levels,with the concurrence of a majority of the judges in eitherdistrictor court level the commissioner serves.

(7)(A)(iii)Sanctions may include but are not limited to private or public censure,restrictions in case assignments with corresponding reduction in salary,mandatory remedial education, and suspension without pay for a period not toexceed 60 days.

(7)(B)Removal.

(7)(B)(i)Removal by Judicial Council. Duringa commissioner?s term, the court commissioner may be removed by the Council:

(7)(B)(i)(a)as part of a reduction in force;

(7)(B)(i)(b)for failure to meet the evaluation requirements; or

(7)(B)(i)(c)as the result of a formal complaint filed under rule 3‑201.02 upon theconcurrence of two‑thirds of the Council.

(7)(B)(ii)Removal by District or Court Level.

(7)(B)(ii)(a)During a commissioner?s term, if the commissioner'sperformance is not satisfactory, the commissioner may be removed by thepresiding judge, or presiding judges if the commissioner serves multipledistricts or court levels, only with the concurrence of a majority of thejudges in each district or court level the commissioner serves.

(7)(B)(ii)(b)If the commissioner serves multiple districts or court levels and one districtor court level contests a commissioner removal decision made by the otherdistrict or court level, the Management Committee will review the decision,with final determination by the Judicial Council.

(7)(C)Review of District or Court Level Decisions.If the commissioner disagrees with a district or court level?s decision tosanction or remove, the commissioner may request a review of the decision bythe Management Committee of the Council.

(8) Retention

(8)(A)TheCouncil shall review materials on the commissioner?s performance prior to theend of thecommissioner?s term of office and the Council shall vote on whether thecommissioner is eligible to be retained for another term in accordance withrule 3-111.

(8)(B)At the end of a commissioner?s term, the judges of each district and courtlevel the commissioner serves may vote not to retain the commissioner foranother term of office. The decision not to retain is without cause and shallbe by the concurrence of a majority of ?the judges in each district and courtlevel the commissioner serves. A decision not to retain a commissionerunder this paragraph shall be communicated to the commissioner within areasonable time after the decision is made, and not less than 60 days prior tothe end of the commissioner?s term .

(9) Salaries and benefits.

(9)(A)The Council shall annually establish the salary of court commissioners. Indetermining the salary of the court commissioners, the Council shall considerthe effect of any salary increase for judges authorized by the Legislature andother relevant factors. Except as provided in paragraph (6), the salary of acommissioner shall not be reduced during the commissioner's tenure.

(9)(B)Court commissioners shall receive annual leave of 20 days per calendar year andthe same sick leave benefits as judges of the courts of record. Annual leavenot used at the end of the calendar year shall not accrue to the followingyear. A commissioner hired part way through the year shall receive annual leaveon a prorated basis. Court commissioners shall receive the same retirementbenefits as non‑judicial officers employed in the judicial branch.

(10) Support services.

(10)(A)Court commissioners shall be provided with support personnel, equipment, andsupplies necessary to carry out the duties of the office as determined by thepresiding judge.

(10)(B)Court commissioners are responsible for requesting necessary support servicesfrom the presiding judge.

 

EffectiveMay 1, 2018