To define the role ofcourt commissioner.
To establish a term ofoffice for 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.
This rule shall apply toall trial courts of record.
Statement of the Rule:
(1) Definition. Courtcommissioners are quasi-judicial officers established by the Utah Code.
(A) Court commissionersmust be at least 25 years of age, United States citizens, Utah residents forthree years preceding appointment and residents of Utah while serving ascommissioners. A court commissioner shall reside in a judicial district thecommissioner serves.
(B) Court commissionersmust be admitted to practice law in Utah and exhibit good character. Courtcommissioners must possess ability and experience in the areas of law in whichthe court commissioner serves.
(C) Court commissionersshall serve full time and shall comply with Utah Code Section 78A-2-221.
(3) Appointment - Oathof office.
(A) Selection of courtcommissioners shall be based solely upon consideration of fitness for office.
(B) When a vacancyoccurs or is about to occur in the office of a court commissioner, the Councilshall determine whether to fill the vacancy. The Council may determine that thecourt commissioner will serve more than one judicial district.
(C) A committee for thepurpose of nominating candidates for the position of court commissioner shallconsist of one judge from each court that the commissioner will
(D) If the commissionerwill serve more than one judicial district, the presiding judges of thedistricts involved shall select representatives from each district's nominatingcommittee to form a joint nominating committee with a size and compositionequivalent to that of a district committee.
(E) No member of thecommittee may vote upon the qualifications of any candidate who is the spouseof that committee member or is related to that committee member within thethird degree of relationship. No member of the committee may vote upon thequalifications of a candidate who is associated with that committee member inthe practice of law. The committee member shall declare to the committee anyother potential conflict of interest between that member and any candidate assoon as the member becomes aware of the potential conflict of interest. Thecommittee shall determine whether the potential conflict of interest willpreclude the member from voting upon the qualifications of any candidate. Thecommittee shall record all declarations of potential conflicts of interest andthe decision of the committee upon the issue.
(F) The administrativeoffice of the courts shall advertise for qualified applicants and shall removefrom consideration those applicants who do not meet minimum qualifications ofage, citizenship, residency, and admission to the practice of law. Theadministrative office of the courts shall develop uniform guidelines for the applicationprocess for court commissioners.
(G) The nominatingcommittee shall review the applications of qualified applicants and mayinvestigate the qualifications of applicants to its satisfaction. The committeeshall interview selected applicants and select the three best qualifiedcandidates. The committee shall receive public comment on those candidates as providedin paragraph (4). ?
(H) When the publiccomment period has closed, the comments shall go to the nominating committee.If any comments would negatively affect the committee?s decision on whether torecommend a candidate, the candidate shall be given notice and an opportunityto respond to the comments. If the committee decides not to recommend acandidate based on the comments, the committee shall select another candidatefrom the interviewed applicants and again receive public comment on thecandidates as provided in paragraph (4).
(I) Thechair of the nominating committee shall present the names, applications, andthe results of background investigations of the nominees to the judges of thecourts the court commissioner will serve. The committee may indicate its orderof preference.
(J) The judges of thecourts the court commissioner will serve shall select one of the nominees by aconcurrence of a majority of judges voting. The concurrence of each courtindependent of the others is necessary for selection.
(L) If the Council doesnot concur in the selection, the judges of the district may select another ofthe nominees or a new nominating process will be commenced.
(M) The appointmentshall be effective upon the court commissioner taking and subscribing to theoath of office required by the Utah Constitution and taking any other stepsnecessary to qualify for office. The court commissioner shall qualify foroffice within 45 days after the concurrence by the Council.
(4) Public comment forappointment and retention.
(A) Final candidates forappointment and court commissioners who are up for retention shall be subjectto public comment.
(B) For finalcandidates, the nominating committee shall be responsible for giving notice ofthe public comment period.
(C) For courtcommissioners, the district in which the commissioner serves shall beresponsible for giving notice of the public comment period.
(D) The nominatingcommittee or district in which the commissioner serves shall:
(i) emailnotice to each active member of the Utah State Bar including the names of thenominees or court commissioner with instructions on how to submit comments;
(ii) publishthe names of the nominees or court commissioner with instructions on how tosubmit comments in a newspaper of general circulation; and
(iii) allowat least 10 days for public comment.
(E) Individuals whocomment on the nominees or commissioners should be encouraged, but not required,to provide their names and contact information.
(F) The comments areclassified as protected court records and shall not be made available to thepublic.?
(5) Term of office. Thecourt commissioner shall be appointed until December 31 of the third yearfollowing concurrence by the Council. At the conclusion of the first term ofoffice and each subsequent term, the court commissioner shall be retained for aterm of four years unless the judges of the courts the commissioner servesremove the commissioner in accordance with paragraph (6)(C). The term of officeof court 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) Performance evaluationand public comments.
(A) The presiding judgeof the district shall prepare an evaluation of the commissioner's performanceon an annual basis, on forms provided by the administrative office. Thepresiding judge shall provide copies of the evaluation to the Judicial Council.A copy of the performance plan and any subsequent evaluation shall bemaintained in the official personnel file in the administrative office. Courtcommissioners shall comply with the program for judicial performance evaluation,including any recommendations made in the evaluation.
(B) When the publiccomment period has closed, the comments shall go to the presiding judge in thedistrict in which the commissioner serves. If any comments would negativelyaffect the presiding judge?s decision on whether to discipline or remove thecommissioner from office, the commissioner shall be given notice and anopportunity to respond to the comments.
(7) Removal andsanctions.
(A) If thecommissioner's performance is not satisfactory, the presiding judge, with theconcurrence of the judges of that jurisdiction, may discipline the commissioneror remove the commissioner from office. If the commissioner disagrees with thepresiding judge's decision, the commissioner may request a review of thedecision by the Management Committee of the Council.
(B) The courtcommissioner may be removed by the Council:
(i) aspart of a reduction in force;
(ii) forfailure to meet the evaluation and certification requirements; or
(iii) asthe result of a formal complaint filed under CJA Rule 3-201.02 upon theconcurrence of two-thirds of the Council.
(C) The courtcommissioner may be removed without cause by the judges of the courts thecommissioner serves at the conclusion of a term of office. Removal under thisparagraph shall be by the concurrence of a majority of all judges of the courtsthe commissioner serves. A decision to remove a commissioner under thisparagraph shall be communicated to the commissioner within a reasonable timeafter the decision is made, and not less than 30 days prior to termination.
(D) The courtcommissioner may be sanctioned by the Council as the result of a formalcomplaint or by the presiding judge or judges of the courts the commissionerserves. Sanctions may include but are not limited to private or public censure,restrictions in case assignments, mandatory remedial education, suspension fora period not to exceed 60 days, and reduction in salary.
(8) Salaries andbenefits.
(A) The Council shallannually establish the salary of court commissioners. In determining the salaryof the court commissioners, the Council shall consider the effect of any salaryincrease for judges authorized by the Legislature and other relevant factors.Except as provided in paragraph (6), the salary of a commissioner shall not bereduced during the commissioner's tenure.
(B) Court commissionersshall receive annual leave of 20 days per calendar year and the same sick leavebenefits as judges of the courts of record. Annual leave not used at the end ofthe calendar year shall not accrue to the following year. A commissioner hiredpart way through the year shall receive annual leave on a prorated basis. Courtcommissioners shall receive the same retirement benefits as non-judicialofficers employed in the judicial branch.
(9) Support services.
(A) Court commissionersshall be provided with support personnel, equipment, and supplies necessary tocarry out the duties of the office as determined by the presiding judge.
(B) Court commissionersare responsible for requesting necessary support services from the presidingjudge.