Thirty-three judges will be on the November ballot in five Utah judicial districts for a retention election made possible by recent changes in state law.
The 33 judges were certified by the Utah Judicial Council last week to stand for retention elections - a relatively new element of Utah law implemented when the Legislature changed statutes to eliminate the ability of a challenger to run against a judge.All trial judges and Court of Appeals judges must stand for retention election after their first three years on the bench, and every six years thereafter. Supreme Court justices stand for retention election every 10 years.
Proponents of the bill that eliminated election challenges argued judges should remain above the political fray of campaigns and elections. And they should not be placed in a position of soliciting campaign donations, possibly from lawyers who would then have to practice against them.
In order to be placed on the ballot for retention at all, however, the law requires the judges to be evaluated and certified by the 14-member Judicial Council, which judges the judges in five areas.
The council first checks whether any disciplinary action was taken against the judge during the current term on the bench. The council then makes sure the judge meets constitutional and statutory requirements by being at least 25 years old and by living in the geographical area he or she serves.
The general health of the judge is considered, along with how effective the judge has been in managing the workload and whether the judge has been in compliance with the Code of Judicial Conduct.
"This certification process ensures that the judges of this state continue to serve at the highest level possible," said State Court Administrator William C. Vickrey.
Not only are 33 of the state's 90 judges on the ballot in their areas, many of them will be considered by voters in new areas because of the Legislature's changes in judicial boundaries this year.
Appearing on the statewide ballot for retention this year will be Supreme Court Justices I. Daniel Stewart and Michael D. Zimmerman.
In the 1st Judicial Circuit, including Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties, Judge Robert W. Daines is up for retention. Juvenile Court Judge Stephen A. Van Dyke will be on the ballot for retention in the 1st and 2nd Districts, which include Box Elder, Cache, Rich, Weber, Davis and Morgan counties.
In the 2nd District, which includes Weber, Davis and Morgan counties, voters will consider the retention of District Judges Rodney S. Page and David E. Roth. In the 2nd Circuit, which includes the same three counties, voters will consider Circuit Judges K. Roger Bean, Phillip H. Browning, S. Mark Johnson, Stanton M. Taylor, Alfred Van Wagenen, and W. Brent West.
In the 3rd District, including Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties, voters will consider District Judges Scott Daniels, J. Dennis Frederick, Timothy R. Hanson and John A. Rokich; and Juvenile Judges Arthur G. Christean and Franklyn B. Matheson.
Also, in the 3rd District, voters will consider Circuit Judges Floyd H. Gowans, Paul G. Grant, LeRoy H. Griffiths, Maurice D. Jones, Sheila K. McCleve, Tyrone Medley, Philip K. Palmer, Eleanor S. VanSciver and Edward Watson.
In the 4th District, including Wasatch, Utah, Juab and Millard counties, voters will consider District Judges George E. Ballif and Ray M. Harding; and Circuit Court Judges Joseph I. Dimick, E. Patrick McGuire and Robert J. Sumsion.
In the 5th District, including Washington, Iron and Beaver counties, voters will consider Circuit Court Judge Robert F. Owens.