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Despite earlier rejection, Senate approves Su Chon as judge

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 15 2012 3:46 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Questions about a judicial nominee's trial experience survived the scrutiny of the Utah State Senate on Wednesday, with a 17-10 vote sending Su Chon to a place on the 3rd District Court bench.

"She's a wonderful person, a wonderful lawyer," said Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George. "I think Su Chon will make an excellent judge."

Two senators were excused from the vote.

Others in the 29-member Senate threw their votes behind a decision earlier this week by the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee, which voted 4-2 to reject the nomination forwarded by Gov. Gary Herbert.

Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said committee members simply were not satisfied with Chon's experience, and wanted her to spend more time in the courtroom before seeking judgeship.

"When we took her through the process, we felt she was weak in certain areas," Jenkins said. "It was not personal. She's a wonderful person, has a great temperament. … She's the American dream who comes from an immigrant family and A+ people in this community."

Still, Jenkins said committee members wanted Chon to further refine her skills in front of a bench, and not learn them while sitting there.

"We wanted her to get some experience," he said.

Earlier, Herbert reiterated his support of Chon, urging the state Senate to approve his nominee.

"Without question Su Chon possesses the skills and experience to be an outstanding judge," he said. "For more than 18 years, she has excelled in her practice in both the public and private sectors where she has focused on complex real property and banking issues. She is consistently praised by her colleagues as intelligent, hardworking and ethical — all traits that will serve Utah's judiciary and residents well."

Chon works in the Office of the Property Rights Ombudsman. On four different occasions, she has been named one of Utah's Legal Elite by Utah Business magazine. In 2005, she was named Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year by the Utah State Bar, where she serves as a commissioner.

The Utah Minority Bar Association also urged the Senate's support earlier in the day.

"Ms. Chon was vetted by the 3rd District Nominating Commission and the governor's office and is a qualified and experienced attorney with over 18 years of legal experience who will bring much needed diversity to the judiciary system," the association said in a statement.

The association said the appointment of Chon was especially important given the need for diversity on the bench.

"Currently our judiciary system is not representative of the community that comes before it for just and independent resolution of legal problems," the association said.

The confirmation of James Blanch to the bench of the 3rd District Court sailed through quietly. Blanch is from Salt Lake City and a shareholder with Parsons, Behle and Latimer.

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