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Utah Court Records

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How Does the Utah Court of Appeals Work?

The Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in the Utah state court system. Generally, the Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction is dependent on the Utah Supreme Court. Cases handled by the Court of Appeals include appeals from the Juvenile Court and District Court, excluding matters involving the District Court’s mall claims department. The Utah Court of Appeals hears District Court appeals on domestic-related cases such as divorce, annulment, property division in divorce, child custody, family support, adoption, and paternity.

Cases involving criminal convictions, excluding first degree and capital felony offenses, are also heard at the court. Furthermore, the court is responsible for reviewing agencies’ administrative proceedings, including the Utah Industrial Commission and the Department of Employment Security Career Service Review Board. The Supreme Court may also transfer some cases to the Court of Appeals.

Final decisions and orders of agencies can be appealed at the court by filing a petition for review; that is, if a party believes the agency made a legal mistake in its decision. The Court of Appeals reviews the decision on the record created by the agency during the hearing, and the petitioner must prove that the agency made an error. Typically, the court grants the petition if the error was crucial enough to make a difference in the outcome of the proceedings. Petitions must be filed within thirty days after the decision by the agency.

A trial court’s appeal begins when a party files a notice of appeal within 30 days after the trial court’s final verdict. Appellants who may need more time before filing a notice of appeal can file a request in the trial court. Upon the filing of the necessary documents and payment of appropriate fees, the case proceeds to the briefing stage, if the court does not dispose of it. After briefs are filed, oral arguments ensue.

The Court of Appeals can schedule appeal cases for the next available date for oral arguments if it believes the arguments will be important to reach a final decision. Hence, the court may also make decisions based on the briefs submitted by the involved parties. The panels hear oral arguments during the second, third, and fourth weeks of the month. The court gives both parties fifteen minutes each to make their arguments, after which the judges hold a conference to discuss matters relating to the case. A judge on the panel is tasked with writing the opinion of the court. In addition to its oral argument panels, three judges also form the law and motion panel that determines procedural and substantive motions and hears cases once per month.

The court issues a written decision on cases in the form of an opinion. While the opinion does not necessarily have to be undisputed, a majority of the judges must agree on it. The time frame for judges to decide on a case is usually dependent on the case’s complexity. The public can view documents containing the court’s opinions on the Court of Appeals Decisions site or via the Appellate Opinions Search Tool.

If a party is not content with the Utah Court of Appeals’ decision, they can file a petition for rehearing or file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Utah Supreme Court. Interested parties must file petitions for rehearing fourteen days after the court decides on the case. If the party wishes to file a petition for a writ of certiorari, it must be done in the Supreme Court within thirty days of the court’s decision. Individuals should note that the Supreme Court is the court of final resort in Utah and its decisions on appeals are final. Individuals can search for Court of Appeals dockets using the Appellate Dockets Search tool. Dockets can also be retrieved by contacting the Utah state appellate clerk’s office. In-person visits are available on weekdays during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A written request may also be sent to the clerk’s office located at:

450 South State Street

5th Floor

Salt Lake City, Utah

P. O. Box 140230

Phone: (801) 578–3900

Email: courtofappeals@utcourts.gov

The Court of Appeals may refer some cases to the Appellate Mediation Office to be alternatively resolved without litigation. The Appellate Mediation Office as an alternate means of resolving legal disputes by helping the involved parties to negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution. Unlike the litigation process, mediation resolves disputes by assessing merits and making a decision. The Appellate Mediation Office is independent, and the Court of Appeals does not influence its resolutions. Mediation is usually less costly than litigation, and the procedure involves an appellate court mediator scheduling a mediation conference between parties to explain the process and identify possible resolutions. If the negotiation between the parties is not successful, they may then proceed to courtroom litigation.

The Utah Court of Appeals has seven judges. The Governor appoints a candidate to occupy a judgeship position from the nominees’ list collated by the Utah appellate judicial nominating commission. The Utah State Senate then confirms the appointment through a majority vote. To qualify for the Court of Appeals judgeship position, an interested individual must:

  • Be a resident of Utah State for at least three years;
  • Practiced law in the state;
  • Be younger than the retirement age of seventy-five.

The Court of Appeals judges serve a six-year term. At the end of each term, the judges must stand for retention election. However, the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission must assess a judge’s performance before participating in a retention election. The judges cast a majority vote to elect a presiding judge for a two-year term.

The Utah Court of Appeals is located at:

450 South State

5th Floor

Salt Lake City, UT 84114–0210

Justices’ Reception: (801) 238–7967

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