Category: Uncategorized


Salt Lake City, UT— In an historic vote, the Utah Supreme Court voted unanimously on Wednesday to authorize a pilot program to test pioneering changes to the practice of law and changes designed to address the access-to-justice crisis in America.

These changes allow individuals and entities to explore creative ways to safely allow lawyers and non-lawyers to practice law and to reduce constraints on how lawyers market and promote their services. In order to assess whether the changes are working as intended, the Supreme Court has authorized the core portions of these changes for a two-year period. At the conclusion of that time, the Supreme Court will carefully evaluate whether the program should continue. The evaluation will be based on a review of data collected from those entities and individuals participating in the program. The Supreme Court’s willingness to experiment with innovation is an important step, especially now, because the need for more affordable legal help has reached crisis levels as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. Many Utahns are facing crushing challenges that require legal help, including lost jobs, bankruptcy and debt, and health and family crises. Now more than ever new legal services and providers are needed to ease this crisis of access to justice.

The Court’s Reform-leading Efforts

The Utah Supreme Court has led the way on reforming the rules governing lawyers and the practice of law to increase Utahns’ access to legal help. Over the past two years, a task force established by the Supreme Court has researched and developed a model through which new and creative legal business models, services, and providers—under careful oversight—could offer safe and innovative legal services to Utahns. The resulting proposals, set out in the Supreme Court’s Standing Order 15 and associated revisions to the Rules of Professional Conduct, establish a regulatory sandbox for non-traditional legal providers and services, including entities with non-lawyer investment or ownership. The proposal also establishes an Office of Legal Services Innovation—a new office within the Supreme Court that will assess and recommend sandbox applicants to the Court, as well as oversee those applicants that are authorized by the Court to offer legal services. The rule changes and the sandbox, which the Supreme Court authorized pursuant to its plenary and exclusive constitutional mandate to govern the practice of law, represent perhaps the most promising effort by courts to tackle the access-to-justice crisis in the last hundred years.

Taking Input from All Sources into Account

Before voting on the changes, the Utah Supreme Court provided for a lengthy ninety-day comment period. Through the comment period and extensive outreach and research efforts, the Supreme Court and its task force were able to gather and take into account input on the proposals from the public, lawyers, the Utah Bar Commission—the body directly overseeing Utah’s lawyers—and subject matter experts. As a direct result of this input, the Supreme Court made a number of important changes to the initial proposals. These changes included: (1) increasing transparency into the application and approval process, (2) adding clearer channels for complaints regarding the new legal services, (3) severely restricting any roles for disbarred or suspended lawyers and those with certain felony convictions, (4) more explicitly articulating the program’s access-to-justice goals, (5) and more clearly delineating that the program will sunset in two years absent further order of the Supreme Court.

A New Legal Frontier

Justice Deno Himonas who, along with John Lund, past-President of the Utah Bar, led the effort, summed up the need for innovative solutions in the face of America’s access-to-justice crisis as follows, “We cannot volunteer ourselves across the access-to-justice gap. We have spent billions of dollars trying this approach. It hasn’t worked. And hammering away at the problem with the same tools is Einstein’s very definition of insanity. What is needed is a market-based approach that simultaneously respects and protects consumer needs. That is the power and beauty of the Supreme Court’s rule changes and the legal regulatory sandbox.” Now, under the leadership of the Supreme Court and the Bar Commission, which will have an important role in the Innovation Office, Utah will be the first state in the nation to lay the foundation for a truly accessible and affordable, consumer-oriented legal services system.

#    #    #

Continue Reading


Salt Lake City, Utah—The Utah Supreme Court and the Utah Court of Appeals have jointly issued an order suspending in-person oral arguments and appellate court committee meetings through at least the end of the year. Presiding Judge Gregory Orme emphasized that, “Utah was one of the first states to begin holding remote oral arguments and committee meetings through videoconference, and we have been pleased with the capabilities this technology has provided us to continue the Courts’ mission to provide for the open, fair, and efficient administration of justice.”
“While we miss seeing everyone in person, safety is our first priority, and we recognize that we are in a position where we are able to conduct our business remotely and avoid further spreading of the virus,” said Chief Justice Matthew Durrant. “Current prediction models show a real possibility of virus spikes as we approach this fall and winter, and we encourage everyone who can work and meet remotely to do so.”
As outlined in the Order, the Appellate Courts will continue monitoring the crisis and may overturn or extend the order based on the circumstances at that time.

Link to the order:

# # #

Continue Reading


Salt Lake City, Utah—The Utah Judiciary is mourning the passing of Taylorsville City Justice Court Judge Michael W. Kwan.
Judge Kwan has served the Taylorsville Justice Court since 1998. He started one of the first DUI/Drug Courts in the nation in 1998. This program received the Governor’s Award for reducing drug and alcohol abuse and related crimes in 2008. His Domestic Violence Program was awarded the Peace on Earth Award from the Salt Lake Area Domestic Violence Advisory Council in 2002.
His colleagues knew Judge Kwan as a warm and caring friend. He was the former chair of the Board of Justice Court Judges, and served on the Utah Judicial Council. He taught judicial education courses across the country for the Utah Judicial Institute, ABA, and National Drug Court Institute focusing on traffic, evidence, constitutional law, and criminal procedure and law. He received a law degree from Whittier College School of Law and was certified in Chinese law by the East China University of Politics and Law in 1993.
Our condolences go out to Judge Kwan’s family.

# # #

Continue Reading


Salt Lake City, Utah—Applications are being accepted for justice court judges pro tempore. This position is considered voluntary without compensation. The judge pro tempore will oversee the small claims cases for the Salt Lake City Justice Court.

To be considered for this position, candidates must be at least 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States, a Utah resident for at least three years, and have been admitted to the practice of law in Utah for a minimum of four years.

Information on judicial retention and performance evaluation is posted on the Utah State Court’s website at under employment opportunities. A small claims judge pro tempore application must be completed and is available on the court’s website ( For application information, contact Amy Hernandez at (801) 578-3809 or by email at For scheduling and other court-specific information, contact Tammy Shelton at

The deadline for applications is Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 at 5 p.m. and should be emailed to If appointed, a judge pro tempore assigned small claims cases shall complete a small claims orientation program within one year after appointment and thereafter complete at least three hours of small claims education annually.

# # #

Continue Reading


Salt Lake City, UT— The Utah Judiciary belongs to the people of Utah. The work of the courts is to provide an open, fair, efficient and independent system to advance access to justice under the law. Fairness is the basic premise of our system of justice. The goal is a fair process that produces a just result. The goal cannot be achieved in a system tainted by racism and bias.

Today, the Utah Judicial Council, as part of its ongoing commitment to identify and eradicate racism and bias from the judicial system, announced the establishment of the Office of Fairness and Accountability. The Office is created to organize and lead the Utah courts in examining and addressing racism and other forms of bias within the system. The Office will work collaboratively both within the courts, and with individuals and entities outside the system, including the Executive and Legislative branches of government. It will focus on, among other items, outreach to marginalized communities; data collection and research; and judge and employee education.

The Office will enhance the Judiciary’s efforts to address inequities and to provide greater access to our courts; especially for those who, whether due to race, socio-economic status or some other factor, have been marginalized or have otherwise been unable to access the rule of law on equal footing with their fellow Americans.

We hope that, now, more than ever, we can receive increased public input regarding how we can continue to reform as we strive toward the more perfect Union our constitution promises.

Office of Fairness Accountability Charter.


# # #

Continue Reading


Salt Lake City, UT—Utah’s Judicial Branch, through a new Administrative Order, has adopted a Risk Response Plan that sets forth safety and operational requirements for courts as they move through three risk phases: Red, Yellow, and Green. The plan also includes guidelines for conducting jury trials and Juvenile Court hearings.
The risk phases for the courts are not the same as the Governor’s risk phases. The courts created a pandemic response plan in September 2009, adopting three risk phases at that time.
While the Judicial Branch takes into account the Governor’s color coded risk phases as it considers court operations, it has chosen a more cautious approach because it recognizes that among the three branches of government, the courts have the power to compel people to appear in court, either for a hearing, or for jury service.
Currently, all court locations are operating under the Red phase. This means, critical court functions continue, and courts are conducting many other criminal and civil proceedings, but most hearings and services are being done remotely. Jury trials will not resume until a court moves into the Yellow phase, and then only if strict safety protocols are followed.

The new Risk Response Plan lays out a process by which courts in a county may seek approval from the Judicial Council to move to the Yellow phase. The council will approve the request to move to the Yellow phase when the local health department confirms that the rate of transmission for the county in which the court is located is consistently decreasing, or is stable at a level well below the level that would overwhelm the Utah healthcare system. Courts can resume in-person operations under the Yellow phase if the appropriate safeguards outlined in the Risk Response Plan are followed. Based on recommendations from state health officials, the courts do not anticipate any court transitioning to the Green phase in the foreseeable future.

The public can check the status of each court location by county by visiting the Utah Courts COVID-19Alerts Page.

# # #

Continue Reading


Salt Lake City, UT—The Utah Judicial Council is seeking public comment on two court commissioners as required by Utah Code of Judicial Administration Rule 3-201. The commissioners are up for retention for a four-year term. Individuals who wish to comment on the court commissioners are encouraged, but not required, to provide their names and contact information. The comment period closes on July 3, 2020.

The court commissioners up for retention and the email addresses to which comments should be sent are as follows:

Commissioner Kim M. Luhn

Third District Court

Comments to


Commissioner Sean M. Petersen

Fourth District Court

Comments to

# # #

Continue Reading


Salt Lake City, UT—Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant has issued an updated Administrative Order. The order instructs judges to begin expanding virtual hearings for more cases in both criminal and civil matters, including bench trials.
During the moderate-risk phase of the pandemic courts will not resume in-person proceedings, including jury trails, until further notice. There are limited exceptions to the prohibition of in-person proceedings for unusual circumstances.
The Supreme Court has directed the creation of a judicial working group to establish a way to conduct safe and effective in-person court proceedings that follow state and federal pandemic safety guidelines. The working group is expected to submit its recommendations to the Utah Judicial Council for approval before in-person hearings will resume.
Most hearings can be held remotely in the meantime with the consent of parties, including bench trials. If a judge believes that a party’s consent to a remote bench trail is being unreasonably withheld, the updated administrative order allows a judge to order the bench trial to proceed.
Click here to read the May 11, 2020 Administrative Order:

# # #

Continue Reading


Salt Lake City, UT—Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant has issued an updated Administrative Order. The new order expands the ability for judges to hold more hearings via remote video or telephone, including bench trials.
The order offers further guidance to Utah judges. It addresses courthouse operations, requiring that each court across the state will perform the mission-critical work of the judiciary while also providing for the safety of court personnel and the public.
The order also directs the creation of a judicial working group to establish a way to conduct safe and effective in-person court proceedings. The working group will consist of judges from all court levels, with rural and urban representation.
Among consideration will be a proposed plan to hold jury trails while conforming to the latest state and federal COVID-19 safety guidelines. The Utah Judicial Council must approve any proposal before it is implemented.
Click here to read the May 1, 2020 Administrative Order:
# # #

Continue Reading


Salt Lake City, UT — The Utah Supreme Court has recognized the lack of affordable legal services can be devastating for many people. Between free but limited legal aid, and standard attorney service that can easily exceed $200 an hour, there are few options for affordable legal help.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of finding new, affordable, and high-quality innovations as quickly as possible.
That is why the Supreme Court is offering expedited review and approval of proposals from individuals and entities who believe they can offer low-cost, or no-cost, legal advice for small businesses, people with unemployment issues, and others.
“Americans need and deserve access to affordable legal services,” said Utah Supreme Court Justice Deno Himonas, who heads the Utah Implementation Task Force on Regulatory Reform. “For decades, we in the legal profession have tried to volunteer ourselves across the access-to-justice gap. Under that approach, we’ve witnessed the gap grow into a crisis. And now COVID-19 and its aftermath threaten so many of us with severe legal consequences. The Utah Supreme Court’s regulatory reform efforts offer a way to harness innovation and market forces to improve the delivery of much-needed legal services to all.”
Today, the Utah Supreme Court announced the proposed set of comprehensive regulatory reforms. The announcement comes after many months of careful work and study by a group of state and national legal experts.
A pilot regulatory sandbox has been created to provide a safe space for experimentation while being monitored for safety and effectiveness. An Office of Legal Services Innovation will be created to assist the Utah Supreme Court with respect to overseeing and regulating the practice of law by nontraditional legal service providers or by traditional providers offering nontraditional legal services.
The proposed reforms are the first in a series of changes that will open up Utah’s legal industry to new and more modern ways of offering legal advice at a lower cost. The goal is to fill in the access-to-justice gap with a variety of new, forward-thinking, services for Utah residents. Last year, the Supreme Court approved the Licensed Paralegal Professional. An LPP can help people with family and debt collection matters, such as divorce, civil stalking, custody and support, and small claims cases. Moving forward, the Supreme Court is expecting more innovations will be forthcoming.
# # #
Continue Reading