Utah Supreme Court
Since 1998, the Utah Supreme Court has met in the Scott M. Matheson Courthouse. The Court previously met in the Utah State Capitol.
Map
Established1894
LocationSalt Lake City, Utah Utah
Composition methodExecutive appointment with legislative confirmation and retention elections
Authorized byUtah State Constitution
Appeals toSupreme Court of the United States
Number of positions5
WebsiteOfficial site
Chief Justice
CurrentlyMatthew B. Durrant
SinceMarch 26, 2012
Jurist term endsJanuary 5, 2025

The Utah Supreme Court is the supreme court of the state of Utah, United States. It has final authority of interpretation of the Utah Constitution. The Utah Supreme Court is composed of five members: a chief justice, an associate chief justice, and three justices. All justices are appointed by the governor of Utah, with confirmation by the Utah Senate. The five justices elect one of their own to serve as chief justice and another to serve as associate chief justice, each for a term of four years.

History

Before present-day Utah became a state, it was organized into a provisional state, called the State of Deseret. Its constitution established a three-member supreme court.[1] In 1850, the United States Congress passed "An Act to Establish a Territorial Government for Utah", Section 9 of which provided that "the judicial power of said territory shall be vested in a Supreme Court, District Court, and Justices of the Peace".[2] This act converted Deseret's supreme court into a territorial supreme court with expanded jurisdiction.[1]

In 1894, the United States Congress passed an Enabling Act, which called a convention to draft a constitution for Utah, another step towards statehood. The Enabling Act provided that Utah's territorial courts would be succeeded by new state courts with the same structure and jurisdiction.[1] When Utah became a state on January 4, 1896, its constitution took effect, and Utah's territorial supreme court was replaced by a new state supreme court. The constitution provided that the court would have three members, but that the Utah Legislature could expand its membership to five after 1905, an option it ultimately exercised.[3][1]

In 1998, the Utah Supreme Court moved into the Scott M. Matheson courthouse. The multimillion-dollar building was nicknamed the "Taj Mahal" by some critics over its cost.[4] Prior to that, the court met in the Utah State Capitol.[5]

Supreme Court justices

Further information: List of justices of the Utah Supreme Court

The Governor of Utah nominates justices from a list created by a judicial nominating commission each time a vacancy arises. The nominee must then be confirmed by a majority of the Utah Senate to take office.[6] If confirmed, the justice is subjected to a nonpartisan, "unopposed retention election at the first general election held more than three years after appointment" and every ten years thereafter.[7]

Justice Born Joined Term ends Appointed by Law school
Matthew B. Durrant, Chief Justice 1957 (age 66–67) January 2000[a] 2024 Mike Leavitt (R) Harvard
John A. Pearce (1969-06-06) June 6, 1969 (age 54) January 29, 2016 2030 Gary Herbert (R) UC Berkeley
Paige Petersen 1972 (age 51–52) January 19, 2018 2032 Gary Herbert (R) Yale
Diana Hagen 1973 (age 50–51) May 18, 2022 2026 Spencer Cox (R) Utah
Jill Pohlman August 17, 2022 2026 Spencer Cox (R) Utah
  1. ^ Originally appointed as an Associate Justice. Took office as Chief Justice on April 1, 2012.

References

  1. ^ a b c d "History of the Utah Supreme Court". Utah State Archives and Records Service. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  2. ^ 9 Stat. 453 (September 9, 1850).
  3. ^ Utah State Constitution, Article VIII, Section 2.
  4. ^ "BAR MAY ANTE UP TO ENHANCE COURTHOUSE". DeseretNews.com. 1997-03-08. Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  5. ^ Reavy, Pat (2010-06-15). "Security scarce at courthouse when Ronnie Lee Gardner murdered attorney". Deseret News. p. 2. Archived from the original on 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  6. ^ "Utah Constitution: Article VIII, Section 8". Utah State Legislature. 2020. Archived from the original on December 7, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  7. ^ "Utah Constitution: Article VIII, Section 9". Utah State Legislature. 2020. Archived from the original on January 25, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.

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