Senate chooses not to vote on Gov. Herbert's judicial nominee

Published: Friday, Oct. 18 2013 6:21 p.m. MDT

Both Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate declined to bring Gov. Gary Herbert's pick for a 2nd District judgeship to the floor for a vote, citing a lack of support for the nominee.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Both Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate declined to bring Gov. Gary Herbert's pick for a 2nd District judgeship to the floor for a vote, citing a lack of support for the nominee.

"It wasn't a partisan issue," Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, said of the decision of both the GOP and Democratic caucuses not to vote on Catherine Conklin's nomination during Wednesday's special legislative session.

Davis said even though Conklin received a favorable recommendation after her judicial confirmation hearing earlier this week, there was "a real deep concern" about her background that surfaced in closed discussions.

He said the concern stemmed from personal issues that could not be made public. Senators, he said, chose not to "bring her on the floor and have that kind of debate that went on in our caucuses."

Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, was the only vote in the judicial confirmation committee against recommending Conklin's confirmation but said others who initially supported her "lost confidence."

Jenkins would not explain why he opposed Conklin's confirmation.

"It's all private," the judicial confirmation committee chairman said. "We're very careful about what we say, because it's about people's personal lives."

He said despite his concerns and those raised during the GOP caucus, he pushed unsuccessfully during the closed-door meeting for a vote on the Senate floor. In the end, Conklin's name was removed from the list of nominees.

The lack of action means the search process will be reopened.

"By statute, the process will start over and the position will reopen for individuals to submit their application," Herbert's deputy chief of staff, Ally Isom, said in a statement. A nominating commission will recommend five candidates.

Other judicial nominees have been withdrawn in the past because the votes were not there. The last time the Senate rejected a judicial nominee was 2008, when 3rd District Judge Robert Hilder was nominated to the Utah Court of Appeals.

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