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Utah Court Records

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How Does The Utah Supreme Court Work?

The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Utah and the highest court in the state. The Utah Supreme court has original jurisdiction to issue prerogative writs, including habeas corpus and matters involving state laws that have been certified from federal courts. The Supreme Court also has appellate jurisdiction over cases heard at the District Court that involves:

  • First-degree felony offenses
  • Convictions that are punishable by death
  • Decisions on civil proceedings except for domestic-related cases

Also, the Utah Supreme Court has the authority to review the proceedings of administrative agencies, including the Tax Commission, Public Service Commission, School and Institutional Trust Lands Board of Trustees, Board of Oil, Gas, and Mining, and the State Engineer. The Supreme Court also makes final decisions concerning the interpretation of the Utah constitution, the implementation of rules for civil and criminal procedure, and how evidence is used in the state courts. The court has administrative authority over the Judicial Conduct Commission and has the oversight of law practice in the state, including the admission, conduct, and discipline of state attorneys.

The Supreme Court is mandated to hear appeals on criminal convictions categorized as first-degree felony and crimes with a death penalty. Some civil cases and cases that involve administrative agencies are also heard by right. Other appeals brought before the court are interlocutory appeals that the court handles at its discretion.

The Supreme Court reviews the Utah Court of Appeals’ decisions by writ of certiorari. Hence, individuals who are not satisfied with the court of Appeals’ conclusion may request a judicial review from The Utah Supreme Court. Interested individuals are required to file a petition for writ of certiorari thirty days after the decision by the Court of Appeals was made. However, the apex court does not attend to such petitions as a matter of right and may grant or deny a petition at its discretion.

The Utah Supreme Court sits on the first and third Mondays of the month to deliberate on procedural issues. Oral arguments are scheduled for the first Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, during February, March, April, May, June, September, October, November, and December. Litigants may find out when their oral arguments are scheduled to occur via the court’s oral arguments calendar or at the Clerk’s office. Typically, the Supreme Court schedules up to three cases for arguments in a day. The time allotted to both parties’ counsels is twenty minutes each, and the appellant presents first.

After the oral arguments, the Justices hold a conference to decide by majority vote the motions to be granted. While three justices form the panel that decides on a motion, two justices are tasked with writing the opinions. If the court denies a motion, the aggrieved party may file a petition for rehearing, fourteen days after the issuance of the Justices’ opinion. The court may issue an opinion after an argument. Generally, opinions are released to the involved parties, the public, and the news media on Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. These opinions can be accessed by date on the court’s opinions webpage.

Using the docket number, interested parties may also view the Utah Supreme Court dockets online via the Appellate Docket Search. Persons who cannot find the case they are looking for may visit the appellate clerks’ office from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. The office is located at:

450 South State Street
5th Floor
Salt Lake City, Utah
(801) 578–3900

The Utah Supreme Court consists of five justices and a chief judge. The appointment process for a justice vacancy begins with the appellate judicial nominating commission submitting a list of five to seven candidates to the Governor. The commission comprises eight members, and they are all appointed by the Governor. The Governor must choose a nominee from the list within thirty days, and the Utah Senate has 60 days to confirm or reject the Governor’s nomination. If the Governor does not choose a nominee within thirty days, the Chief Justice has the authority to appoint a new justice to fill the position. All justices of the Supreme Court serve a renewable tenure of ten years. The justices elect a Chief Judge among themselves through a majority vote. The Chief Judge serves a tenure of four years while an Associate Chief Judge is elected for two years. Eligibility to serve in the Supreme Court includes:

  • Citizenship of the United States
  • At least thirty years of age
  • Must have resided in Utah for at least five years
  • Must have practiced law in Utah

The justices of the Supreme Court are assisted by law clerks, staff attorneys, a clerk of the court, a legal secretary, and front office clerks. Law clerks are responsible for conducting legal research on cases before the court proceedings occur. The staff attorneys look into the cases to be heard by the court, and the Clerk is responsible for sorting out petitions and other legal matters filed with the court.

The Utah Supreme Court’s address is:

Utah Supreme Court
Matheson Courthouse
450 South State Street
P. O Box 140210
Salt Lake City, UT 84114–0210
Main Phone: (801) 578–3900
Justices’ Reception: (801) 238–7967

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